I recently finished listening to this audio dramatization, available through Audible.com. It features a strong cast, including Alex Jennings as Charles Dickens himself (a role he's played before), narrating the action and weaving in and out among the characters as they go about their business. It's an interesting and effective conceit.
I wish I could say I enjoyed everything else about the program as much, but unfortunately, it had some signifcant weakenesses. There was far too little use of Dickens's own words, for one thing. I understand that a dramatization has to add, subtract, and generally change things, but even taking all that into account, I don't see why they had to use so very few of them. Nor do I understand why Eugene and Lizzie's story had to be severely truncated, and John and Bella's story badly botched. (Bella here is still torturing John almost past endurance, long after the point where book-Bella changed her ways and admitted that she loved him.) Also, there was an annoying tendency now and then to cut away from important scenes and bring the narrator in. Even if you like the narrator, that sort of thing tends to yank one abruptly and disagreeably out of the story.
I'm sorry to say it, because I had been pretty excited about this version, but I think many of my fellow OMF fans will find it, though well-produced and well-acted, far from satisfying.
The 1976 adaptation of Our Mutual Friend, long unavailable in the U.S., has been put up on YouTube. It stars Jane Seymour as Bella, John McEnery as John, Lesley Dunlop as Lizzie, and Nicholas Jones as Eugene (a complete cast list is here) -- and for some unknown reason, it has English subtitles! Links are here and here. Thanks to The Buzfuz for the tip!
In December, a concert version of A Christmas Carol aired on PBS. I DVRed it but haven't yet seen it -- it's part of an enormous pile of DVRed stuff that I'm currently working my way through! However, I did get to hear the music on CD a while back, and reviewed it here.
It had been a while since we heard anything about the BBC's planned TV series Dickensian. But this week, writer Tony Jordan told the Liverpool Echothat the show will air in 2015, and will consist of 20 half-hour episodes.
This one will have its world premiere in Northampton, England, next month. It will star Oliver Dimsdale (whom you may have seen in various period TV dramas, including Downton Abbey) and Abigail McKern (who was in a TV adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby).
. . . and I don't know about you, but I'm suddenly feeling ancient! Disney is releasing a new 30th Anniversary Special Edition of this beloved special. The website Big Picture Big Sound reviews it here.
Kelly Clarkson will star in an NBC Christmas special "loosely based on Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol,'" airing December 11.
A minor point: The Huffington Post tells us that "Clarkson's character will learn the true meaning of Christmas." Bah, humbug. "The true meaning of Christmas" is vapid TV-speak for "home and hugs and family and anything but the TRUE meaning of Christmas." Charles Dickens would have broken his pen in half before he'd have used such a cliché. And A Christmas Carol isn't about that, anyway, and doesn't pretend to be: It makes a point of reverently mentioning the "sacred origin" of Christmas, but the story's focus is on one man's redemption. Loosely based, indeed.
Forgive my Scrooge-likeness, but fake TV versions of "the true meaning of Christmas" are an old pet peeve for your Dickensblogger.
Cable network Bravo is developing a new series called Fortune, inspired by Bleak House but set in the present day. (Note that "developing" doesn't necessarily mean that the series is guaranteed to make it to the screen.)