Monday, March 30, 2009

"Little Dorrit" on PBS

Everything is coming up Dickens. In December, I read and reviewed The Man Who Invented Christmas. I just finished reading Drood by Dan Simmons (review on Wednesday). Now, on TV, "Little Dorrit" started last night.

The first thing that came to mind last night was the gorgeous production values. The folks over in Britain really do their classic literature adaptations well. I thoroughly enjoyed "Bleak House" and watched all of the Jane Austen presentations last spring. These programs are so good that they might make me reconsider my lack of desire to own everything I love on DVD.

But production values alone don't guarantee a good film. The story has to be there. And with "Little Dorrit," is most certainly is. We are, after all, talking about Charles Dickens. I don't know the story of "Little Dorrit" at all so I am coming to this show cold. I'm just enjoying all the Dickensian tidbits and characters here and there and everywhere.

In one, two-hour installment, everything is set in motion. Little Dorrit, the daughter of man in debtors' prison, has a new job with Mrs. Clennam, a paraylized woman with a secret (natch). Her son is back from the East with news of his father's death and a dying request to fulfill. That request is so odd that he sets out to discover the truth. Jeremiah Flintwinch (great Dickens name), Mrs. Clennam's conniving butler, seems to know more than he should for a butler and, I think, has a secret all his own. Throw in Dorrit's gamling-prone brother, her actress sister, John Chivery, the son of the prison's gatekeeper who has eyes for Little Dorrit, to name but few, and the resulting concoction is one beautiful story with lots of inconnectedness. It is set up so wonderfully. You know: there's a reason why Dickens was a genius.

I'll write more as the series goes on. And if you missed it last night and are interested, you can watch online.