Little Dorrit (TV Series 2008) Poster

(2008)

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10/10
Wonderful
Edu-167 February 2009
From the first moments of this wonderful production we (mum, dad and two girls 10 and 12) were entranced. Unlike those in the UK who would see this a slice a week, we saw the whole lot over a single long weekend. As I write - we've just two episodes to go...

We have all the BBC Dickens productions for comparison - including the recent Bleak House and our favourites Great Expectations and (my personal top) Our Mutual Friend. LD comes v.close to the top of this pile - The last two episodes may tip the balance....

From the first, this production grabs with its beautiful and (perhaps unusually) 'sunny' scenery. None of the austerity of the recent Great Expectations production, nor the gloominess of Bleak House. Actually this made for a nice change.... The acting is perfect - with key emotional scenes being utterly believable. The actor playing Young Chivery (heading for great things I suspect) induced a flood burst of tears from my 10 year old in the marriage proposal scene. As others have mentioned, even the smaller parts are excellently cast and played. But there's something else at play here to make this possible.

In many Dickens productions Directors seem loath to leave peripheral characters out. Bleak House in particular suffered for this I think. In LD everyone seems to have space and time in which to be presented and to evolve. It never feels chaotic or suffocating - time is taken, and this makes the whole that more soluble.

The leads are all superb - Little Dorit is perfectly perfect without being goody goody....(another issue with Bleak House), and Andrew McFad is particularly good, managing to look younger than he did in the wonderful Pride and Prejudice... And did he chub up for the role? Things have been left out - and perhaps the damning indictment of society and government are not so forcibly presented as they might have been. But what remains is a delightful mystery, beautifully told and acted and which we will want to watch all over again as soon as we've come to the end.
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7/10
Great dramatisation of Dickens' story of debt and greed...and desire
LouE158 December 2008
Oh, I do love a good period drama… I got interested enough after one episode of this to re-read the book for the first time in 10 years, and was impressed by how very dark and cynical Dickens' tone is. The show is well-shot and well made, and does the book justice in almost every way. The only thing which is – so far – slightly lost is the cynicism: the staggering incompetence and idleness of the Circumlocution Office is meant to be an attack on the whole governmental administration system. Likewise, the inordinate raising up of one person above others on a great balloon of hot air, and the great, national disgrace that was the imprisonment of whole families for debt. The intensity of the satire is missing – which is a great shame, since a central part of the story finds its perfect parallel in events unfolding both in this country and elsewhere right now. That was a missed opportunity – but I suspect the show wouldn't have attracted such ready funding and promotion if it laid the satire on too thick at the expense of say, the costumes (yawn).

The casting is excellent, and it seems almost unfair to single out individuals from the list, including Judy Parfitt's cold Mrs Clennam, Tom Courtenay's vain, haunted Mr Dorrit, Russell Tovey's charmingly emotional young Chivery, Claire Foy's delicate, youthful Amy and Matthew McFadyen's kind-hearted, generous Arthur. Ruth Jones' wondrous recreation of the voluminous Flora is bettered only by Annette Crosbie's frankly terrifying Aunt. (She's how I want to be when I get old!) I'd been disappointed by McFadyen's Mr Darcy in the Joe Wright film "Pride & Prejudice" - it was almost at times as if he had been stuffed, and his looks were somehow lost in the mix. Here all his best attributes are to the fore – his eyes, his height, his voice and manner, the excellence of his diction – all these create a warm, breathing man out of really quite flimsy material. In the book and even in this dramatisation, Arthur is a rather shadowy presence, on the sidelines while things happen to those around him. Yet his appearance each week is like a beacon, a feeling of warmth, like home.

Claire Foy does a really wonderful job as the title character. Dickens' heroines used to drive me mad – so tiny and blushing and always so very, irritatingly good, drat them. Foy manages to be all of these things, but to be likable too, and I very much admire her for it. The way she looks at her father – half with love, half with pity – is spot on. Tom Courtenay is brilliant – I can't imagine anyone else being able to bring so much to the character of this foolish, vain, blind Mr Dorritt. I kept missing episodes and having to watch them on the (BBC's excellent i-player) catch up site. Now I've at last seen the final episode I think it's sadly rushed, missing a few voyeuristic opportunities for catching up on some of the minor characters seen in the series. However the scenes between John Chivery, Arthur and Amy are moving and beautifully handled. I will definitely be getting hold of the DVD. This one's a keeper.
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10/10
Evocative picturisation, stellar cast, excellent performances - BBC at its best!
kabosse12 December 2008
This BBC adaptation of the Dickens novel has enthralled me from the very beginning, mainly because of the outstanding quality of its performances. Every single character, even minor ones like the insufferably haughty Merdle butler or the paranoid Italian (perhaps with the exception of Maggy who's perfectly manicured fingernails in one close-up blew her otherwise worthy portrayal), has been ideally cast and all the actors are absolutely convincing in their delivery.

What made me write this comment, though, was Tom Courtenay's heart-wrenching performance as Mr. Dorrit for which I hope he will receive all the accolades he deserves. His multifaceted Dorrit awed me until the very end and will resonate with me for a long time.

What I particularly liked about the series was how we got more than a glimpse of all the characters' 'little lives', people going about their respective businesses, revolving in their little worlds. Even if a scene only touched on a certain character, setting, costumes, and dialogue provided ample information for the viewer to evoke the full picture of this character's life and to imagine how they would go on after the camera had panned away to continue with the main story.

On top of that, the great care put into the selection of costumes and locations made Little Dorrit a real feast for the eye, perfectly accompanied by the wonderful score by John Lunn.

May this be a 'true Dickens' or not, what it surely is, is Grand TV. And as such, it adds another sparkling jewel to my cherished collection of BBC adaptations.
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10/10
Brilliant Dickens dramatisation, with outstanding performances and superlative period detail
TheLittleSongbird5 November 2009
I admit I hadn't read the book for a long time, and I do remember finding it rather complicated. Reading it again, I found it an insightful piece of literature, but it isn't the easiest book to sink your teeth into at first. But along with 2005's Bleak House, this adaptation of Little Dorrit was absolutely brilliant, and by far one of the better dramatisations of 2008.

What is worth of mention is the period detail. It was stunning and truly evocative! You can never go wrong with realistic looking sets,skillful camera work, lavish costumes and breathtaking scenery, and this adaptation scored highly in all four of these areas. The music from John Lunn was gorgeous, and the scripts were of exceptional quality. The plot, may be a little complicated at times, but I will say at 17 I was hooked from minute one. I think it was to do with how every scene was shot and executed. There are a handful of poignant, bleak and truly haunting moments throughout.

Other than the overall closeness to the book and how it was filmed, what made this dramatisation was the quality of the performances. I don't think anybody gave a bad performance whatsoever. Claire Foy gives an appealing lead performance as Amy, and Matthew MacFadyen is charming and handsome. Tom Courtenay is truly heart-wrenching as Amy's father, in one of his best understated performances, and I do think Courtenay is in some ways undervalued as an actor, Allun Armstrong is as reliable as ever as Jeremiah and Andy Serkis steals every scene he's in in a truly sinister performance as Rigaud (who is a real creep). And I found his accent convincing, if anything he could have done with more screen time.

Overall, I cannot sing my praises enough of this fine dramatisation of Dickens' book. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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10/10
Wow...just, wow!
iowane24 January 2011
Generally the BBC adaptation of Dickens are great, but this was just something more. Not only is this a great story, parts of which could have been ripped from recent financial headlines, but the script, cast and direction were pretty much flawless from beginning to end. And did I mention the cinematography?

The plan was to watch the 4 disc set over several days. That didn't quite work out. The second day became a marathon viewing session. All of us watching kept calling out for the next installment as soon as the previous one came to an end. It had it all: love story, social commentary, great characters, and a mystery that isn't solved until the very end. I won't say what that is. In a way, it is incidental to the story. It will keep you guessing, but it is not really the point.

Get it and watch it. You won't be disappointed.
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8/10
A lot of "Dorrit"..
Lejink13 December 2008
... hardly "Little" when you see it spread over 12 half-hour and two hour-long bookend episodes, BBC's new production repeats the successful episodic template of the previous "Bleak House", with adaptor-extraordinaire Andrew Davies' latest dramatisation of classic Dickens again, proving, on the whole to be a successful and highly entertaining epic. The novel (no pun intended) idea of breaking down the book to bite-size half-hour chunks to echo the monthly magazine serialisation in Dickens' own time, certainly kept me looking forward with anticipation to the next one, even if it does cater to the half-hour-soap mentality and attention-span of much of today's target audience. The settings were superb, with every background filled in and peopled appropriately, from the squalor of The Marshalsea Prison to the grandeur of the stately homes of London and Venice as The Dorrits make their parabolic journey on the path of moral regeneration. The direction was well-paced and occasionally imaginative while the acting, with a few exceptions was excellent, particularly in the crucial main roles where Claire Foy and Matthew Macfadyen in arguably the leads convey without too much sentimentality (Dickens' goodly characters frequently teeter on the edge of over-sentimental caricature) their traits of honesty, loyalty, self-sacrifice and humility. The story has elements of Trollope's "The Way We Live Now" (another recent BBC/Davies triumphant adaptation) in its exposure of the unprincipled fat-cats at the centre of high finance, with of course echoes of today's post-credit-crunch collapsing banks in the depiction of Mr Merdle as the epicentre of the bubble that has to burst sometime. Plus ca change... Everyone will have their own favourites amongst the rest of the cast. I was particularly impressed by Eddie Marsan as the tough rent-collector with a heart, the snorting Pankes, Russell Tovey as the lovelorn lock-keeper's son John Chivery, Ruth Jones as Clennam's blowsy, bloated childhood sweetheart, Flora Flinching (her transformation from the slim teenager of his memory to today's fat frump, was deftly rendered) and Flora Robson lookalike Judy Parfitt as Arthur's cold, immovable (in every sense of the word) "mother". The biggest star on board, arguably, is Tom Courteney who skilfully makes sympathetic the basically aloof, pompous, self-deluding Mr Dorrit, particularly his descent into madness and sudden death. On the debit side, I found Freema Agyeman miscast and tending to overact in the admittedly difficult part of Tattycoram and if I was being picky just a little too much of the archetypal Victorian melodramatic villain in the performances of John Alderton and Andy Serkis as the rogues of the piece, Casby and Rigaud/Blandois. Davies' screenplay as ever can't resist the odd allusion to today, but I always find such moments jarring and there are certainly some crudities here which I don't recall Dickens employing. Seems such a shame to go to all the trouble of period recreation to besmirch it with clever-clever in-jokes to a modern audience. That said however, I was thoroughly transported into the Dickens' world that I love and wait with anticipation, the next production. Davies should take on a real challenge in my opinion next time with "Edwin Drood" and fashion us a credible conclusion to Dickens' death-shortened final work.
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10/10
Classic drama
kathymonktrudy10 October 2010
I love this version of Little Dorrit. Whilst I have not read the book, and so cannot vouch for its following the storyline faithfully, I find it interesting enough to enjoy it immensely every time I watch it.

Some characters are funny, some capricious, others are mercenary whilst a few are kind and good hearted. The juxtaposition of all the different personalities really does make good viewing, and the true Dickensian oddities are very funny and entertaining, like Mr. Panks or the extraordinary French gentleman!

The story holds a lot of events and developments that both interest and satisfy the viewer. A classic tale of love, hardship and affluence, this film is like a ray of sunlight in a darkened room: murky and mysterious, yet somehow also rather quaint and sweet.
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7/10
Runs the gamut of incidents and struggles usually found in all of Dickens' tales...
Doylenf1 January 2010
LITTLE DORRIT is an excellent British TV version of the Dickens novel, the kind of saga that almost makes David Copperfield's struggles look pale by comparison. Here, the leading characters are mystified by the secrets involving their past and the young man ends up in debtor's prison when he can't pay his creditors. Everything is eventually cleared up, but getting to the end of all the woes is quite a struggle.

As usual, all of it has been given magnificent production values, great sets that look as though people really lived there in those times, and fine acting by an ensemble cast of fine British actors. MATTHEW MACFAYDEN and CLAIRE FOY are splendid in the leading roles and ANDY SERKIS does a fine job as the villainous Ragaud.

I'm going to have to watch the replay to see the whole story, but what I saw has certainly whetted my appetite for catching the whole story from beginning to end. I can see why this production has been winning so many awards. Fine job.
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8/10
Little Dorrit BBC movie--possible spoiler alert Warning: Spoilers
I am a great fan of period dramas in general, and especially of the Andrew Davies BBC adaptations. Of all the movies done of Pride and Prejudice, none come anywhere near the exemplary dramatization done by Mr. Davies.

I saw the original 1988? movie of Little Dorrit, and apparently was one of the few who really enjoyed it! I thought the actress Sarah Pickering was appropriately waifish, mysterious, resolute but "minding her humble place," and I have no problem with actresses re-creating characters that are accurately representative of the way women behaved in that time period, and the way Dickens wrote them. The sassiness that 21st century actress often bring Dickens' characters is bothersome because it is simply not an accurate representation. We have to get past our pride to accept that this is just how reality was back then, and if done right, the proper 19th century representation can have something very refreshing and winsome about it. That is why I enjoyed Sarah Pickering's Dorrit.

Having said that, Andrew Davies' Little Dorrit was really very good. Claire Foy as Amy was a bit saucy at times for my taste, but overall did an excellent job. The entire production was high-class and visually very attractive.

The plot had some unexplainable loose ends, and since I haven't read the book, I'm not sure if it's a fault of the book, or because the movie just ran out of time. For example, Tattiecorem was a big, colorful character, well-developed, at the beginning of the story. By the end of the story, I wondered what had happened to her and what was the purpose of her character being in the story at all. Same with Pet and Henry--after the baby was born, what happened to them?? And I didn't understand the purpose of the Blandois character to the plot in general. He was a frightening, vicious killer at the beginning. By the end he was an annoying, intrusive extortionist but kind of lost the "evil". I can't figure out why Dickens needed a character like that to expose the secret of Mrs. Clennan. It seemed totally unrelated to the rest of the story. Perhaps Mr. Davies just had too many characters to deal with, even with such an epically long program.

But none of that detracted from my enjoyment of the movie. It was high quality in every way. I plan to buy the DVD and add it to my collection!
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10/10
Wow - Simply The Best Thing I Have Ever Seen On PBS
jaldeborgh17 October 2010
I stumbled on to this series about half way through an early episode purely by accident and within 5 minutes I was totally hooked - wow. My favorite programs are a combination of a great story, careful character development and excellent acting. This series has all these and more - the cinematography shows great sensitivity, the sets and costumes world class and even the theme music is mesmerizing. Each episode practically stands on it's own. It's the whole package.

Clair Foy is nothing short of brilliant - I have never seen a character that so completely captures your sympathies and heart. She is the perfect manifestation of beauty being so much more than skin deep.

Matthew Macfadyen is the idea counterpart and perfectly represents the goodness that mankind can (should) strive to achieve. The electricity between Matthew Macfadyen and Claire Foy is also magic.

Tom Courtenay performance is in many ways the most extraordinary of all. His role as William Dorrit is by far the most complex and challenging. Tom Courtenay's insight into this complex and rapidly evolving character is truly remarkable - I have seen very few that could compare. In my mind on the same level as George C. Scott in Patton.

The other supporting actors are also faultless almost to a man (or woman).

If you haven't seen this one - I suggest you do it's great and timeless entertainment.
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10/10
Wonderful Series- Spot on Characters - A Joy to Watch!
michaelgrantham2 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I bought the DVD of this series a while ago and for some reason we never got around to watching it till recently. What an omission! The series is quite simply a joy to watch, with fabulous interpretations of the characters by all. Alun Armstrong was wonderfully over the top as Flintwinch, Tom Courtenay excellent as the vain Mr Dorritt, Claire Foy quite simply perfect as Little Dorrit, and Russell Tovey giving a beautifully sensitive performance as the besotted John Chivery.You cannot leave out Eddie Marsan's Mr Pancks or Mathew McFadyen's perfect Mr Clennam. I frequently found myself laughing out loud at Flintwinch or Pancks and was very moved by Russell Tovey's unrequited love. There wasn't a single poor performance in the whole cast.

I do agree with the earlier reviewer about how Tattiecoram simply disappeared from the story, however and one or two other loose ends that were left. However, they just make me want to read the book which I will do soon. These DVD's will most certainly be kept! I do hope the cast get to read their reviews - well done to you all :o)
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10/10
Great production
bob99816 January 2015
I'm not able to say if this is the best BBC series ever, since I've seen few of them, but it must be close. The attention to casting, choice of locations, costumes and everything else is so impressive. They have really brought the Marshalsea to life by using Hampton Court, it looks just like the Hablot Browne illustrations. Andrew Davies is to be praised for using so much of Dickens's dialog in his script.

The one real standout performance is that of Andy Serkis as Rigaud; he is commandingly evil and looks just like the illustration. You accept his presence everywhere in the story without asking questions, he is that impressive. Tom Courtenay as Dorrit is very good; he's one of the most self-deluding men in world literature, always telling everyone how he has suffered during those two decades in prison (others suffered more, but he won't recognize that). Maxine Peake, whom I knew only through Silk, does very well as ice-cold Miss Wade. Eddie Marsan is Pancks, absolutely: obsessed, snorting derisively at the Marshalsea prisoners, finally declaring independence to cheers all round. Claire Foy and Matthew McFadyen play the heroes convincingly.
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8/10
A delightful drama!
TheReviewPerson15 May 2012
This adaptation takes the book very seriously, and is a true adaptation. 14 episodes at first seemed a little daunting, but this series is captivating, with wonderful characters and fantastic cinematography. The soundtrack suits the series well, and just gives that extra touch to get the watcher crying, laughing, and sighing at the television screen! You truly feel like you are in the series, which makes it a series in a league of it's own. The casting is fantastic, and well done for Claire Foy - she portrayed the character brilliantly for a first large part! In the end, if I had to describe this series in one word; it's really, truly 'sweet' - there is no other word! - and will no doubt leave the viewer with a smile on their face by the end of it!
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10/10
Perfect 10 - Gold Medal
downeyfresh16 February 2019
They hit the nail on the head with this. Perfect casting (with the exception of Maggy... maybe). The scene towards the end with Young Chivery pouring his heart out to Arthur Clennam is incredible actibg. You're crying with him practically. I've read the book and the actors did such a great job portraying the real characters Dickens wrote about. This is my favorite period drama of all time. I have no idea why this has an average rating of 8.2 and not a 10. Yes... they maybe veered from the book a tiny bit in places but keep in mind they're trying to squash a 800+ page book into 7 episodes.
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10/10
Perfect
lovedaybb29 January 2019
It is hard to watch Littoe Dorrit without a stupid grin on my face. I just think it is perfect. The characters are all just as you imagined when reading the novel. From The leads in Clare Foy and Matthew To the vast array of supporting characters. It is like the book has come to life itself. Ruth Jones is a stand out. Just brilliant
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10/10
Absolute Classic-Timeless
timmurphy-225 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
There are some series or movies that are so well acted, so well written and so genuine that they touch you. The emotions resonate because the story and actors are relatable, even though the story is grounded at a different time. Little Dorrit is such a series. The leads portray Amy and Arthur as kind, generous and giving...yet not in a sanctimonious or humorless way. The supporting characters are typical Dickens...a wide variety of personalities who both brighten and darken the story as it progresses. The central love story between Amy and Arthur is buttressed by themes as timeless as humanity itself: mystery, greed, cruelty, shame as well as selflessness, loss, kindness, forgiveness and sacrifice. I can watch it again and again and pick up new ways of enjoying this series. The acting is absolutely phenomenal-no weak link and the two leads-Claire Foy and Matthew Macfadyen-are perfect. The final scenes wherein each finally declare their love for each other are joyous and intimate. An absolutely incredible adaptation.
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10/10
A wonderful adaptation, even better than the book!
johannes2000-124 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is yet another outstanding Dickens-adaptation by the BBC. It makes you wonder how they do it: making everything fall so exactly in its place! The casting is perfect, settings and costumes are flawless, the direction is impressive and the editing gives it all a wonderful pace, helped by cutting it into short pieces of half an hour, so that you are kept on your toes all of the time, simply craving for the next episode.

To be honest, Little Dorrit is not my favorite Dickens. I remember when reading it, it impressed me as over-long, over-crowded with characters and with story-lines, and – I'm sorry to say – as a bit tedious in the last couple of hundred pages, especially after the family Dorrit came into their unexpected financial fortune and starts traveling. So the directors (apparently there were three of them) and the writers deserve the highest praise, to have turned the somewhat tough basic material into this wonderful, exciting and involving story of love, greed, social differences, mystery and (thank heaven) lots of vintage Dickensian comedy.

The basic premise of a life almost entirely spent in a debtors prison (the notorious Marshalsea), without any hope of ever getting out, and where even your children are born and bred, is heartbreaking in itself. The rest of the story with all the turns and twists that Dickens composed is actually less important, it is at many points too complicated and unrealistic. Even in the end, when all the mysteries are unfolded and out in the open, you keep wondering if you have understood everything correctly. But don't bother too much about logic, just let yourself be immersed and enjoy the ride.

It's hard to give credits to singular actors, they are all so wonderful. Of course Claire Foy and Matthew Macfadyen should be mentioned as the two leading characters Amy Dorrit and Arthur Clennam. Claire Foy succeeds in making Amy more than just a spotless and angelic Dickens-heroine, she's a real person of flesh and blood who can at times be hurt and angry, but who stands firm in her believes and especially in her loyalty to her overbearing father. Foy gets more beautiful in every episode and in the last happy shots she's virtually radiant. Macfadyen is as Arthur convincingly her match in every aspect, he plays this extremely sympathetic, modest and loyal man to perfection, and with a wonderful sense of humor. He's also very handsome in a puppy-like way and it isn't hard to see why Amy is totally in love with him from the moment she first meets him.

Of course Tom Courtenay has to be mentioned. His portrayal of the complicated personality that father Dorrit is, cannot be surpassed. The arrogance and the insecurity, the ungratefulness towards his daughter and yet his deep love for her, his carefully groomed image of "the father of the Marshalsea" and yet his fear for the real outside world, it is all there, not with grand gestures but with the subtlety that only the most gifted actors have. When he finally feels himself slipping away into mental confusion he just breaks your heart.

I need to mention two more actors. I was on the edge of my chair every time Ruth Jones as Flora Finching came into view, she's absolutely hilarious and she never failed to make me laugh out loud, clinching and flirting around her old love Arthur and calling him "Arthur, Doyce and Clennam" all the time (it doesn't sound like anything funny when you write it down, but you should see it!). Ruth Jones was a great surprise to me and I don't know how her career develops but she definitely should have her own television show or something like that.

The last actor that I want to point out is Russell Tovey. He plays the awkward and clumsy John Chivery, literally hopelessly in love with Amy. His character is clearly put into the story as a comic relief (the counterpart of Flora Finching who in vain tries to win back Arthur), and his unstoppable sobbing and desperation when his love is rejected are comical indeed. But in several scenes Tovey succeeds in lifting up his character to an almost grandiose level. His reaction when Amy – ever so gently – turn his proposal down already is heartbreaking. But his last big scene, when he tells Arthur – his supposed rival - how Amy actually loves Arthur and not himself, is unforgettable, it moved me to the core and I'm again in tears just thinking about it. Tovey is an extremely gifted talent and I just hope he will get many chances to prove it again.

In short: a great series, a treat to watch and a heartfelt 10 out of 10!!!
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10/10
ExtraOrdinary
Alireza-Amidfar10 June 2013
When I first watched the first episode of this superb production of BBC, I gave 7 to it. Then I continued to watch and found out what a exceptional work it is. There are lots of adaptations from different authors but none of them could catch my eyes like this one. The chemistry between characters, the performance of them, the creation of locations, costumes, the music regarding each scene... in a simple word admirable... Perfect. As someone who read the novel itself and has the highest esteem for the author of it, I should say this adaptation, ironically, is so superior than the novel itself, it gave life to the "Little Dorrit" of Dickens. It deserves the highest rate.
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10/10
I need to be cast with Matthew MacFadyen in something
w-weish7 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
No, the ONLY problem with this story, the film, and with 95% of films and books is the idea that a man somehow needs to be CONVINCED That he loves you, is so 'unaware' of his feelings, can be convinced that he is in love when he didn't know it (come on!),or doesn't recognize his feelings. That is a terrible thing to be telling women, because it is not true in the real world!!! Let me tell you: When a man is in love, he doesn't need any 'convincing'. And this is coming from men themselves: When men want something, they go for it. Period. They don't need to be bargained with ("let me stay with you the rest of my days") or given ultimatums to marry you. If they want to marry you , they will do the proposing!Period. The portrayal of poor little me and poor little Dorrit (yes, I had a half-British man call me 'little', too) having to be the ones to somehow convince a man of his true loving feelings for us, and this constant portrayal of a man suddenly seeing the light and saying 'Oh, my.. I must love her' is absolute b.s., and it makes women in the real world waste a lot of time (sometimes years of their lives) because of story lines like this that abound: "He does love me, he just doesn't know it', or " all it takes is one person (young Chittery) to tell him and he will finally realize that we both love each other and are meant to be together!" Again, women, all the men say that no one had to convince them or 'show' them when they were in love. There was nothing that a woman can do to get a man to love her. Throughout this entire story, the Arther character virtually ignores her, skips off happily leaving her in hell and never asking about her, goes for another woman,(certainly not pining away for Dorrit) tells the woman that he loves about the other woman (that happened in real life, and talk about painful?!) has no concern for little Dorrit's feelings throughout the entire film, even when she has just lost her father and uncle at the same time (!) Arthur merely says 'Sorry to hear that', many women nurse men back to health and the men don't have some big glorious awakening of romantic love from it, much less a marriage, and Arthur never even asks about her through the film, much too preoccupied with his other things. That is not the behavior of a man in love. Men who are TRULY in love will try to move mountains to be with the woman they love, and make great, huge personal sacrifices to do so. He never even proposed marriage to her, and is full of the same ridiculous, inane 'excuses' commitment phobic men use (you know, the ones who never marry the woman in the real world): Age difference, I send you away because I care for you, money, etc. Baloney!
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Bleak Dorrit
alfa-1617 November 2008
I may have been looking forward to this too much. Period drama has been hitting new heights recently but I'm not surprised that there hasn't been a rush to comment on the latest BBC/Andrew Davies Dickens adaptation. 18 months ago, Bleak House, with its dark shadows, glacial foreboding and taut narrative storyline gripped the nation. Not so Little Dorrit.

What's the problem? Surely with a winning formula, a great cast and a brilliant novel, we must be guaranteed some sort of success? The three leads are very successfully cast. McFadyen and Courtenay are both living their parts and taking every opportunity that comes their way. Amy has just the right combination of winsomeness, vulnerability and moral strength and can bring a tear to the most jaded eye.

But here's where the problem starts. She's so tall, fit and healthy that if someone told you she was the British All-Comers keepie-up champion you wouldn't be surprised.

And the whole series is like that. London looks spruce and modern, the Marshalsea looks more inviting than any accommodation I ever had in London, everyone is clean and fettled and no one seems to have a problem worthy of the name. Parts of it,like everything associated with the Meagles at Twickenham, are actually boring and defective.

Apart from that, the planning that went into the storyline of Bleak House to come up with a strong narrative thread supporting two half hour episodes a week is missing here. Characters constantly seem to be rushing off stage. Andy Serkis, as Rigaud, is a delicious villain and would be a much-needed, hugely oppressive presence if only they'd give him more than a minute an episode.

I can't see myself falling in wholeheartedly love with this production, especially when there is a much more imaginative (and even better acted) adaptation already on DVD, from Christina Edzard.

I love Panks and the Bleeding Heart Yard crew, and the Clennam household is a tremendous success. I'd watch Judy Parfitt mowing her grass, she's beautifully paired with Alun Armstrong and Sue Johnston is perfect as Affery.

But whilst it scores, it also continues to disappoint. I just don't think enough hard work went into it at the planning and scriptwriting stages.
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10/10
Absolutely Brilliant in Every Regard
djrandmpr-0160015 June 2019
It's said that comparisons are odious, so to criticize this 2008 BBC adaptation based in anyway on the 1987 version would be a gross mistake. True, the latter is also a 10 out of 10 with some performances that are outstanding, but to make any critical comment purely based upon that fact would force you to ignore the many top notch portrayals found here.

For instance, Claire Foy as Little Dorrit is without fault, as are so many of the cast. Alun Armstrong is memorable playing Flintwinch, ticks, jerks, limps and all, but most of all, Andy Serkis is the epitome of evil as Rigaud/Blandois/Lagnier or whatever he happens to call himself as he delightfully proceeds to happily murder victim after victim. Not including Judy Parfitt (Mrs. Clennam), Eddie Marsan (Pancks) and the heart breaking performance of Russell Tovey (John Chivery) seems like a travesty. Many US viewers may not know some of these names at all, but it's due to their careers being predominantly on the other side of the Pond.

If you don't like Dickens, then you won't like Little Dorrit. But assuming that you do, you'll be delighted with every scene in every episode. There's no way that this could have been dramatised in a finer fashion, as I'm certain Dickens would agree. A must see series!
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5/10
Average; not a patch on the 1988 film version
sbrumfit27 January 2012
I watched the Christine Edzard film of Little Dorrit aged fourteen and was so enthused by it that I ended up doing work experience on her next film. For this reason I resisted watching this version for a long time. I relented recently having just read the book, but I was right to be wary. Watching this version reminded me how good the 1988 Edzard films were. This version has good production values and some very strong performances (although I still find Matthew McFadyen annoyingly wooden), but it lacks much of the book's depth and subtlety, while ironing many of his characters (who are always larger than life) into shadows of their written selves. The story has been 'distilled' and the stakes raised so that it has become a quest story, rather than a social satire with a quest element. Everyone seems about ten years too young for the parts they play, except Clare Foy, who is altogether too tall, too old and too knowing for Little Dorrit. They are also far too clean, as is London, and William Dorrit's room in the Marshalsea is so enormous it might qualify for the status of 'suite' when in fact the rooms in the Marshalsea were shared and less than ten feet square. Plus the language is far too modern and some of the details anachronistic (Clennam would NEVER have kissed his mother hello in 1826, even if she hadn't been a fearful old battle-axe). Most annoying of all, this version explains and signposts through scenes that have no place in the book, while cutting others (like the wonderful introduction of Flora Finching) back to the bone.

The Edzard version takes a more consistent approach to the point of view issue by telling the story twice, once from Clennam's point of view and then again from Little Dorrit's (and in a sense this version, with its shifting perspectives, is truer to the book). The camera-work is far more engaging in this version; Edzard's camera is static, a cool observer, whereas this version employs a liquid, flowing approach that gives the geography of the city greater life and a more sinister edge. Nonetheless the film is far better cast and its use of the original dialogue is more authentic.

The summary of Episode One in the DVD set describes Amy as an 'enterprising young woman'. This misses the point. She is a girl under pressure, a child, like so many in the developing world today, whose responsibilities are far greater than they should have to bear. It's Dickens's exploration of exploitation and imprisonment, in all its forms, that forms the essence of Little Dorrit. And I'm not sure this version does justice to any of these themes.
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4/10
Eastenders Do Dickens
screenman27 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I have been a Dickens fan most of my adult life. Discouraged in childhood by a succession of Sunday evening serial adaptations of unremitting bleakness and gloom; I missed out on The World's Greatest Ever Writer until I had grown up a bit.

Ironically; it was another TV adaptation, screened during the 1970's - this time of 'David Copperfield' - that caught my interest and imagination. I enjoyed it so much that when I saw a subscription book-club for his complete works, I signed-up at once.

What a joy. He was the best investment I ever made. The books turned no profit but enriched my life beyond measure. I came to love Dickens and his characters so much and read the books so often that each volume became a treasured friend. I discovered that the 'David Copperfield' serial had been absolutely solid-gold spot-on. It was Dickens from first to last, with his deep and complex plotting, his unbelievable variety and imagination in character creation, and truly authentic and believable dialogue. But above all; there was his light hand of wit and minutely observed study of human nature: wicked, weird, spoilt, tragic and wryly comical. You have to read his books to enjoy the full extent of his comedy; there's no other way. So much of it is contained in the narrative - which, of course, cannot be easily represented on screen, and certainly not in the subtle language of his style.

And as well as all of this, there is the profound thread of social commentary: his enormous intelligence, poking fun at the cynical and snobbish, contemptuous of high-office, compassionate for the poor and suffering of all. Dicken's huge outpouring worked as much as any other force to draw public attention and compel a change in official attitudes to the poor and dispossessed.

I'm sorry about this lengthy preamble, but it needed to be said. Because I tell you truly that this serial (and another - earlier - rendering of 'Bleak House') is not Dickens at all.

Oh-yes; it's BASED upon a Dicken's work. The serial bears his title. The various characters also possess their respective names. But that's it. There is non of the hilarious lampooning political and social commentary. There is non of the splendid mirthful dialogue. But most of all there is no empathy for good or ill with the characters. All of the minutely observed details with which Dickens twits his creations and their oh-so-human vices and foibles, mocking ourselves in the very same instant - because we are also guilty - all of this is absent. Never was a baby so comprehensively jettisoned with the bath-water.

Instead we seem to re-live my childhood. We have a montage of staid, unimaginative, humourless characters steeped in sets as dull and dreary as my infant memory. Dickens has been squeezed out to make way for what is no more than a grim short-running soap-opera. His sly stroke of satire has been replaced by an insensitive corporate stamp.

Whoever created this travesty must have worked upon the characterisation and scripting of 'Eastenders'. It's that bad. They can't possibly have read the book. Or if they have then they possess not a particle of humour. Or perhaps this is yet another example of the politically-correct BBC scourging our great national heritage once more, and dumming it down to their own miserable, resentful left-wing agenda. Dickens towers so mightily above anything that they can conceive - despite billions of pounds of tax-payers' money - that they pull down the edifice so that it no longer confronts and mocks them with their own pygmy-like creativity. The BBC is precisely the sort of arrogant, self-serving, tower of weakness that would have excited Dicken's ire. If you doubt me, read the book. Read his whole chapter about the 'Circumlocution Office' (Whitehall). And discover how 'the whole science of government' is defined by one abiding principle: 'HOW NOT TO DO IT'. Nothing has changed unto this day.

The viewer has been cheated. It's as simple as that. I earnestly entreat anyone who is not familiar with 'The Master' to read his books and find out why Dickens will live on, long after the BBC and its squalid little munchkins have passed into history.
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6/10
Excellent Dickens
tom3952016 August 2019
Great production values, you can smell and taste the rancid decay of 19th century London. A wonderful cast of splendid actors .... Armstrong giving a richly textured portrayal, Parfitt energerizing the story with an aural of measured evil, Paterson, Courtenay and Foy are all delightful to watch. A top notch, well paced and acted film. The young actor Russell Today is one to watch. He emanates an inner combustible power that you sense can carry him to acting greatness. In short, he's got "IT". I look forward to the film that gives him the opportunity to show the full range of his acting chops.
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6/10
Mixed bunch
pawebster20 December 2008
I really wanted to like this, hoping for something like the BBC's wonderful Bleak House of a couple of years back. It had the characters and some excellent acting (but see below), but what it lacked was a clear plot. About half way through I realised that I wasn't sure (a) what we were waiting to find out and (b) who was who in the lesser roles and (c) why I should bother trying to sort it all out.

On the other hand, Claire Foy, Matthew MacFadyen and Russell Tovey stood out, along with several others. But will someone please tell me what Andy Serkis was up to with that ludicrous, atrocious fake French accent?
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