Sunday, March 19, 2006

Bleak House

I'm halfway through the new Masterpiece Theatre production of Bleak House, and boy, is it bleak. But also, Dickens is pretty funny. He throws in these broadly drawn comic characters for much-needed comic relief, and I think the actors playing these roles are having a hell of a time. The pawn broker, Mr. Smallweed, is freakin hilarious, riding around in his chair, always hollering at his carriers. He's just funny as hell. I'm not sure who the actor is; he sort of looks like Tom Waits with bad teeth and a big nose. Mr. Crook was a good one too, rest his gin-soaked soul...

Gillian Anderson should always wear English period garb, specifically, Georgian or Edwardian. Victorian is pretty good on her too. All are perfect for her classic face. I do wish she'd have a sandwich or two, as she's gotten a bit pointy and severe. It suits the Lady Dedlock character, but it makes me nervous for Ms. Anderson. I'd hate to see her waste away to nothing as so many actresses have done. Actresses over 35 need to have a bit of plump under the skin, or their faces start to look drawn & mannish.

But Dickens, now: I've never been a Dickens fan, really. But he's theatrical and the twists, turns, and multiple characters are perfectly suited to serial television. Subtle, he is not, but Gillian Anderson has managed to nuance her acting so that Lady Dedlock's drama is indeed quite subtle. Mr. Talkinghorn, on the other hand, is so downright Soap Opera Evil, he reminds me of Lucius Malfoy.

The first night we watched Bleak House, the Oscars were on. I called my fellow Bleak House viewer the next day and said: "Man, we are GEEKS. Did you know the Oscars were on while we were watching Bleak House on tape last night?" Nope, neither of us did. Proof of my irredeemable nerdiness, I guess. And proof that you're never a recovered English major, but rather a Recovering English Major for all eternity.

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