What the Dickens?

I have finally got around to watching Dickensian, and I am really enjoying it so far. I can’t say that I have actually read many of the great man’s novels but I am more than aware of most of his better known works and also some of the more well known characters so it was nice to be able to spot people that I might have heard of before and then finding out a bit more about them afterwards.

It was also amusing that all of the characters from all of the Dickens books were all living together in the same part of London at the same time in a Victorian version of East Enders with characters mingling from novels that were published over a period of more than thirty years.

The best thing about this it that it just simply works and it doesn’t seemed like they have been forced together against their will at all. It doesn’t even matter that you have never read any of the books because the way that the characters have been put together looks like they were always meant to be together.

Some of the characters in this series are earlier versions of the characters from the Dickens novels that they appear in and the beginnings of their stories are shown here.

For instance Miss Havisham in this series is young, beautiful and carefree, and a long way from being the aged spinster jilted by her fiancée from Great Expectations. She even has a name, Amelia.

She is also best friends with Honoria Barnaby a character from the novel Bleak House published eight years previously but it makes sense because they are very similar people, and are about the same age and have a lot in common so why wouldn’t the two of them be bosom buddies.

The set up to Miss Havisham’s later state in Great Expectation unfolds in this series with her brother, Arthur, angry at her inheriting their fathers business and home over him, meets up with this bloke, Compeyson, who agrees to help him get what he thinks is rightly his, but at what he cost he doesn’t appear to care about.

Of course Compeyson appears charming at first and first appears rescuing Amelia from being attacked by her brother but soon that facade falls away as he is revealed to be totally unscrupulous and totally without morals exactly as he is in the original Dickens book and up to episode eight, which is as far as I have got into the series so far, he appears to be prepared to do anything to get his own way including pretending to rescue Amelia’s beloved pet dog, Jip, but stealing him and then throwing himself under the wheels of a carriage and also getting rid of other people who might stop him getting what he wants such as Amelia’s cousin Matthew Pocket who she tries to persuade to help her with running the brewery by almost killing by daring him to jump between two buildings from a great height and by then getting him to leave by persuading him that Amelia will never love him until he has gone out an made his own fortune.

He is a truly obnoxious and nasty person and is the real villain of the piece. Unfortunately he is very good looking and very charming and what he is doing, when he is not being a total bastard that is, seems to be working as Amelia who was a bit cold towards him at first has now seemed to warm to him and is even starting to like him a bit which you know is not going to end well as she is so nice and he is so horrible.

Amelia is also a bit of a women to be contended with, and is so much more than the meek minded women whose head can so easily be turned which makes it frustrating as you see her start to fall for this man despite the faft he is clearly no good for her.

You really don’t care what happens to Arthur as he had made his own bed by starting his whole thing in the first place when he was spitting his dummy because the reading of the will did not go as he had hoped and assumed it would. I guess that as the only son he expected to inherit and also assumes that even if it was given to his sister that she would fuck up somehow and that he would get it back somehow but he still goes ahead with his plan with the nefarious Compeyson, obviously believing that his sister is more than competent to run the business rather than him and not liking that one little bit. I mean being made to look a fool by woman; it wouldn’t do at all for a Victorian gentleman like Arthur Havisham.

He goes seem to start to regret what he had started but does not seem able to stop it, probably because he still believes that what he is doing is right, and that he will get what is rightfully his but he has made his bed and will have to lie on it whatever the outcome.

Amelia’s best friend Honoria’s story is perhaps not as dramatic as that of her friends but just as compelling in its own way. She lives with her sister and her father and both she and her sister are unmarried. She is having a secret relationship with a Captain Hawdon from the Cavalry and is often seen snogging him in public much to the disgust of the people who are witnessing it happening which wasn’t the done thing in those days, especially if they were not married, which was what they both wanted, well what Honoria wanted, whether or not her suitor wanted that as much as she did is debatable, after all he was a young man and probably has load of different women on the go.

She also seems to be doted on by her father which doesn’t please her elder sister, Frances, who is also unmarried, but also a bit more of a cold fish than her sister, and is a little bit jealous of how Honoria’ seems to be able to glide through life without a care and how she has to take on all of the family burdens herself.

Of course what Honoria doesn’t realise is that her father is up to his eyes in debt and worse than that owes money to Scrooge and Marley the local money-lenders who repayment rates are a bit like Wonga’s are today and will do anything to keep his daughters into the manner which they are accustomed. Frances is well aware of their problems but Honoria is none the wiser.

They aren’t the only people that owe money to them as the nice little old man from the Old Curiosity Shop with the sick granddaughter also is a debtor, as is Bob Cratchit the clerk of Scrooge and Marley who lives in near penury with his wife and millions of kids, one of whom is just about to get married. Bob has borrowed some money from his employers to buy his wife a nice necklace for Christmas but decided not to tell her where he got the money from for it when they just about afford to feed themselves but she can see right through him and tells him in no uncertain terms that the thought was nice but that it wasn’t necessary.

You have to like the Cratchit’s for their make do and mend attitude which is still prevalent in society today more than 100 year later when you would expect things to have changed but in all honesty very little has changed since those days.

There is also a nice little touch in that one of the Cratchit children is sweet on Nell from the Old Curiosity Shop and is constantly going rounds to see her, hanging on her every world and promising her the earth and more besides. When she gives him a kiss on the cheeks he looks like he is going to shoot up into the air with delight which I found very uplifting indeed and I would have felt the same way at his age if a pretty girl kissed me.

Scrooge in this story is very much the Scrooge of the start A Christmas Carol rather than the one at the end of the story who was a changed man, and the character of Marley here is just as bad as Scrooge also just like the original character.

Other characters in here include Mrs Gamp a gin soaked mid wife who not only attends to Nell but also to Tiny Tim and is always asking for a little tot of gin for her nerves. There is also Mrs Biggetywitch who is another busybody and friend of Mrs Gamps who has an opinion on everything and everyone and is not afraid to make it known. Both of these characters are only relatively minor ones from the books but they make the presence known in this story.

Mr and Mrs Bumble from Oliver Twist are also present in this story with Mr Bumble being totally under the thumb of Mrs Bumble who has ideas above her station whereas Mr Bumble just wants a quiet life and meekly does whatever she tells him to.

Fagin is a very shadowy characters her and has his fingers in all sort of pies including being a bit of a pimp. One of his girls is Nancy and, one of his hired hands, is Bill Sikes a ne’er-do-well who has a soft spot for Nancy but all Fagin has a soft spot for is profit.

Nancy is portrayed as a girl with a mind of her own and is capable of looking after her but has had a hard life and has to make ends meet somehow so hiring herself out to men is just a way of making those ends meet and she is quite sanguine about the whole situation.

There is a lot to enjoy in Dickensian and I certainly am enjoying myself more hoping that Amelia realises that Compeyson is up to no good than who killed Jacob Marley to be honest.

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One thought on “What the Dickens?

  1. Same here, watched the first ten episodes on catch up and now cannot wait for the next instalment! It is a brilliant piece of writing as there is an element of the characters, many of who are recognisable, from their original stories. Fantastic!!!!!!

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