Thursday, January 26, 2006


The third Television adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Bleak House" has already aired in Great Britain and is now airing in six parts on 'Masterpiece Theatre'.

The first version was broadcast in 1959, and there was another adaptation twenty years ago which starred Diana Rigg as Lady Dedlock. This new version stars Gillian Anderson in that role, with Charles Dance and Denis Lawson playing other major characters.

This new version contains more of the book than any of the previous adaptations. Some Inner Toob readers might remember that such a factor played a big role in my decision that Jeremy Brett's interpretation of Sherlock Holmes should be the official version for the main Toobworld, since almost all of the original stories were adapted rather than coming up with stories that were non-Canon.

But in this case, I think the 1959 version may as well stand as the version that actually takes place in Earth Prime-Time. Despite the lack of real star power in that cast and the absence of the technological achievements possible today, there should be something to be said for being the first to broadcast a particular story. And at least it was dealing with the established plot, unlike say, the 'Sherlock Holmes' series starring Ronald Howard and H. Marion Crawford.

(There was a temptation to choose the middle version of "Bleak House", but that was primarily out of my long-standing... admiration for Diana Rigg.)

Since the evil mirror universe is the most popular of all the alternate dimensions for Toobworld, I think the 1985 adaptation should be placed there. And as for this latest version? I suppose it's up for grabs, and arguments could be made to place it in any number of them.

However, because it was able to tell as much of Dickens' full, complicated story with its large roster of characters as possible, I feel comfortable in the idea that this version of "Bleak House" took place in the same dimension where 'The West Wing' resides. Like 'Bleak House', 'The West Wing' is also a complex, richly detailed look at the state of society for its times. And there's nothing about 'Bleak House' and its place in history that would contradict anything that might have been seen on 'The West Wing'.

There's another Toobworld aspect that should be addressed. Most TV shows, movies, and specials are created in their own vacuum, without regard for anything else that might be on the air. And yet Toobworld celebrates the concept that all of these shows exist within the same universe.

So it can be a bit of a problem when the works of an author get adapted for Television, and that author's life ends up depicted as well.

Charles Dickens has been seen as a TV character many times, most recently in the 'Doctor Who' episode "The Unquiet Dead". And his works have been adapted for broadcast quite often, most especially "The Christmas Carol". As such, Dickens joins the ranks of such other writers as Shakespeare, Twain, Verne, and Conan Doyle, who exist in the same world as the works they wrote.

The position I came up with is that these writers were basically historians and reporters, and that their novels were factual accounts of events that actually happened and people who really existed.

So if there was any possible Zonk! in the idea of mixing the authors into the same world occupied by their works, hopefully this serves as the splainin.

Although I doubt it will stand as being a far, far better thing than I have ever done before........


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