Bleak House, Part 1

I just finished Disc 1 (five episodes) of the 15-episode Bleak House series. This is the first time I've understood why Dickens was so popular. I am completely hooked. Who are Esther's parents? Will anyone inherit? (No, I say.) Who is going to get killed? Someone's going to get killed; I hope it's not the street sweeper. Will Richard and Ada get married? (Not a good idea, I'd tell her.) Who will end up marrying Esther? Is Guppy a bad guy or a good guy? Who on earth is Lady Deadlock's sister? Is there a sister? And who's going to get those letters????

And on and on.

I'm so obsessed, I dream about it! This is why I don't watch soap operas although, to be fair, Bleak House is way more interesting than your average soap opera. Something actually happens in every episode!

Gillian Anderson is great, by the way. For a single scene in the second episode, she suddenly adopts a strong British accent. Now, Anderson was born in England and lives there now, but after that single aberration (maybe that was the first scene filmed?), she has spoken "Scully" the majority of the time--crisp tones that are almost accent-less. I love it! It's so in-your-face refined. Which isn't to say I associate her character with Scully although I admit to a wish that David Duchovny would make a cameo appearance. Everybody else has! And can I say that Nathaniel Parker has truly impressed me as the bumbling guest; now, is he a good guy or a bad guy? I thought I knew, but I'm not sure now. Don't tell me! I actually want to figure it out all by myself.

What with all the uncertain, ambiguous, and villainous lawyers (and isn't Charles Dance magnificent?!), I feel like I'm watching The Screwtape Letters: Tulkinghorn is Screwtape. Luckily, he is one of the few obviously unpleasant people in the piece. I'm not certain about anybody else, even John Jarndyce, which makes me nervous. Speaking of John Jarndyce, there's some major manipulation going in his relationships with his wards.

Some of that manipulation involves Ricky, but to be honest, I find Ricky so annoying, I don't much care if he is being manipulated or not. Perhaps my job gives me a suffeit of 20-years-old boys who don't know what to do with their lives, but I keep going, "Oh, kick him out on his ear" whenever Ricky makes another lame excuse about his future.

Back to the lawyers: this Christmas I read a book about A Christmas Carol. The author made the argument that Dickens may have lambasted lawyers and debt collectors, but he identified with Scrooge more than with Tiny Tim et al. Dickens was constantly aware of money: when it was coming in, who owed it, who wasn't repaying it, who was forcing him to lend it. Part of him wished he wasn't so aware and like all good writers, he tried to exorcise his impulses through his writing. He failed, but, as Wimsey says in Gaudy Night, "What does it matter if it hurts if it makes a good book?"

So my appreciation for Dickens has increased. And so has my appreciation for the BBC which makes it possible for me to appreciate Dickens without actually having to read him!


1 comment:

marshymallow said...

My personal favourite is Our Mutual Friend, but Bleak House is definately well done. Wait till you get to the spontaneous combustion bit...