Up until now, I believe, I've pretty much stuck to facts when writing about the upcoming BBC One show Dickensian. I'd like to use this post to share some thoughts and feelings about it.
We know that the series is basically a mashup of various Dickens works. From the quotes that were released not long ago, we know that show creator Tony Jordan is calling it "mischievous and irreverent" and that many news outlets are calling it a soap (though some refer to it as a period drama). I'm not opposed to any of that, necessarily. Placing the characters in new situations and relationships and having some fun with them could make for a good show.
What I hope is that they're allowed to keep their integrity, to be true to who they are and who Dickens meant them to be. I don't want to see heroes made bad or villains made out to be heroes. I don't mind new friendships, alliances, and romances, but I don't want new adulteries. I don't want to see, say, Allan and Ada carrying on behind Esther's back . . . and God save us all from meeting Carton and Lucie's love child. (Or great-grandchild, I suppose it would be, as this is set in the Victorian era.)
Nor do I want to see Dickens's values and ideas used to promote any sort of modern political platform. Too many people use the name of Dickens as a weapon to go after their ideological foes -- often without any idea how complex his ideas really were, and how impossible it is to put them in a box. (Just search for the word "Dickensian" on Twitter or Google sometime, and you'll see what I mean.) It's a great disservice to him and to everything he stood for.
As you might have gleaned from all this, I've been burned before by TV shows in this vein. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Once Upon a Time.) Hollywood, for the most part, has turned out to be terrible at this sort of project. Let's hope London can do better, and give us a show that's truly fun and moving and enjoyable -- in other words, genuinely Dickensian.