In 1777, in the midst of the American Revolution, General George Washington led his army of about 11,000 men to Valley Forge, PA to camp for the winter. For many of them, it was the worst Christmas ever. Inadequate clothing and supplies, coupled with wet weather, meant the men were underfed, cold, and oftentimes sick. As many as 2,000 men are said to have died … Continue reading Good Christmas, Bad Christmas
We start off in some sort of opium-induced dream. A man stands in a burning desert, staring at a mirage-like building in the distance. Then, he’s inside a church, where a blonde woman in an orange dress walks towards the altar, where a young blonde man waits for her. Oh, god, the woman’s played by Tamzin Merchant, who played that idiotic Katherine Howard on The Tudors. I’m sorry, I’m sure she’s a very nice person, but every time I see her in something, I cringe, because she just always seems to have this blank, dim look on her face and she drives me crazy. Anyway, she drapes a black tie around the blonde man’s neck and looks back at the other guy, smiling. Blonde guy smiles too, and she hands first guy the end of the tie, which he uses to strangle blonde guy to death while she just stands there blandly. First guy stands and looks around and sees her far, far away, in a dark part of the church, and then she’s running through an upper chamber, and he wakes himself, shouting “Ned!” in his dingy opium den.
We get a very poetic opening, with a chrysalis opening into a butterfly…underwater, on lace, so…ok. Also, it seems Ray Winstone’s the more important cast member here, since he’s listed even before Gillian Anderson. I have no problem with that—I kind of love Ray Winstone. Did you know he used to be a professional boxer before he became an actor? No wonder he looks like he could kick every ass in the room.
A man breaks through the surface of some swampy, offshore area. It’s misty and kind of miserable out, but all the same there’s a little boy visiting and weeding the grave of his parents. This is Pip, our hero, or, at least, our leading man.
Previously on Oliver Twist: Oliver wanted more, and when he didn’t get it, he hit the road to London, where he hooked up with a gang of child thieves, made friends with a prostitute, and wound up living with some nice rich people before being kidnapped by said prostitute’s crazy boyfriend so he could help boyfriend rob houses. And then he got shot.
I’m not entirely sure what happened. I checked out PBS.org and I could have sworn it said that Oliver Twist was airing last night and next Sunday, so in an effort to keep myself sane and ensure and early bedtime, I scrambled around until I found this version of Oliver online and I went ahead and recapped part one. Then I tuned into PBS later and…it was some Downton Abbey nonsense. Look, I like Downton just fine, but it’s over now, and I think it’s time to move on. Enough with the endless “behind the scenes” specials, ok? I’ve readjusted my brain to Dickens month now, so stop jerking me around my time periods, PBS! Anyway, the recap was already done, so I figured, eh, screw it, I’m posting it anyway. No way I’m flushing a couple hours worth of work on a Sunday down the drain. So, here it is, and you’ll get part II next week, because now I’m just operating on my own schedule.
Like all the Dickens adaptations this year, this one starts out in gloom and misery. A young woman in distress rings the bell at some workhouse and begs to be admitted. Someone comes out and helps her inside, where she gives birth to a baby and then takes a really bad turn. One of the other workers notices a locket on the young mother, and once her rather hardened superior leaves, the mother rallies and asks to see the baby. Nice Lady brings him over and mother smiles and realizes she’s dying. She begs Nice Lady to send a letter she has on her, and though Nice Lady’s reluctant, you know she will, or she’ll hold onto it and reappear at some randomly opportune moment. Mother expires and Nice Lady takes the locket, watching it twist in the flickering light.
I’m a bad former English major. I’m not a fan of Dickens. Not a fan of reading his work, at least. I find it hard to slog through his novels (though I did enjoy Great Expectations), so I don’t read most of his works, and I haven’t read The Old Curiosity Shop. This recap will, therefore, be entirely based on what’s on screen, not what’s in the book or how the book translates to the screen. I’m not sure I can promise the same for Great Expectations when that airs, but we’ll see how that goes when we get there.