Saturday, 19 April 2008

"He do the police in different voices"

Extra points if you got the T.S. Eliot reference in the title.

Having moderate amounts of fun at the moment, neglecting housework, recovering from Stupid Virus, and watching Our Mutual Friend. This is a 1976 BBC adaptation - far superior to the more recent one. It's one of the most Gothically dark versions of any Dickens tale, but then the story is rather grim. It's about money, love, money, snobbery, money, education, money, violence, money, death... you get the picture.
This serial, in seven 50 minute episodes (!) has a wonderful starry cast. Jane Seymour as Bella Wilfer (wilful beauty, geddit?), Leo McKern as genial but wily Mr Boffin, Alfie Bass as leg-deficient Silas Wegg (who declines and falls off the Rooshian Empire), young Warren Clarke as Bradley Headstone, arguably the first stalker in English literature, and the superb David Troughton as Mr Sloppy, the mangling gangling orphan. Some unusual casting, too. Polly 'Liver Bird' James as Jenny Wren the crippled doll maker, and Richard Stilgoe as a party guest of the ghastly, nouveau riches Veneerings. The serial is new out on DVD, apparently produced under license, which might explain why a few slight sound glitches haven't been cleared up. Likewise there's no commentary or documentary features. Pity. Also, it's very obviously a studio-based drama, shot mostly on tape, and this does detract from the visuals somewhat. But otherwise, this is how BBC drama should be. The recent Bleak House was pretty good, and well done to whoever decided to do it in true serial form. But OMF was one of the highlights of Good Telly. Buy it now! You won't be sorry.

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