Tuesday, July 26, 2016

BBC Miniseries: Bleak House

Welcome back to BBC miniseries as we move into classical writings depicting the strengths and flaws in English men and women in Victorian London and can think of no other author of the time better to give a curt view of such a time than Charles Dickens. A long running legal case Jarndyce and Jarndyce, due to conflicting wills is drawn out to the point of madness showing a satire on the English judicial system and how bureaucracy can fail even the most noble of houses. This is Bleak House.

Hmm, Mulder is streaking in the rain again.

Our story is told from the eyes of its narrator and protagonist Esther Summerson (Anna Maxwell Martin of Enduring Love, North & South, Doctor Who, Becoming Jane, Poppy Shakespeare, Free Agents, The Night Watch and Death Comes to Pemberly) as she is Dickens' only female narrator in all his novels, novellas and short stories. Raised as an orphan under the cruel and heartless vigil of Miss Barbary (Kelly Hunter of The House of Eliott, Being Human, Resort to Murder, Hollow Reed, Life Force, Perfect Strangers, Henry VIII, Waking the Dead and Doctor Who).

Lady Dedlock (Gillian Anderson of The Turning, The Mighty, The X-Files, The House of Mirth, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, The Last King of Scotland, Closure, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, Boogie Woogie and Any Human Heart) holds a secret of a previous affair with a man Captain Hawdon and a daughter by him. Sir Leicester Dedlock (Timothy West of Witch Hunt, Twisted Nerve, The Tragedy of King Richard II, The Day of the Jackal, Edward the King, The Devil's Advocate, Churchill and the Generals, Oliver Twist, When Are We Married, Brass and Framed) is blissfully unaware of this secret nagging at his wife's soul and conscience.

I hereby order the meeting of the powdered wig club to an end!

Concerned for his standing with this account and the well-being of his employer, lawyer or is it solicitor? Mr. Tulkinghorn (Charles Dance of Edward the King, For Your Eyes Only, The Jewel in the Crown, Plenty, The Golden Child, Hidden City, Alien 3, Last Action Hero and Game of Thrones), an odious, small minded man convinced that whatever Lady Hedlock has kept secret will be the downfall of Sir Hedlock and must be watched at all times, so far as he convinces her maid to keep him abreast to her goings on. What will become of this will? Will Esther ever be free of her class standing?? Will Lady Dedlock forgive herself of her previous affair??

The novel this is derived from spoke volumes for the need of a reform in the legal so much that it made its own re-evaluation in the 1870s. Directed by TV directors Justin Chadwick (Life Force, EastEnders, Red Cap, MI-5, The Other Boleyn Girl and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) and Susanna White (Holby City, Love Again, Teachers, Lie with Me, Jane Eyre, The Diary of a Nobody, Nanny McPhee Returns and Billions) this adaptation is viewed as a soap opera style of a series and I disagree. It was compelling, fast paced as much as it could be and showed many facets of humanity through in and throughout. While I have only seen the 1985 version prior to this, I feel its cast alone carries the story well on their shoulders and delivers the performance necessary for the piece. On a side note, I did get the biggest chuckle out of Guppy (Burn Gorman of Torchwood, The Runaway, The Hour, Up There, The Dark Knight Rises and Spies of Warsaw) and started laughing, shouting "OWEN LIIIIIIIIVES!!!!"

Come miss or we shan't meet the Doctor.