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Review: 'The Old Curiosity Shop'

May 2, 2009 |  4:00 am

Curiosity As admirable and ambitious as the folks at PBS Masterpiece are -- four tales of Charles Dickens in three months! -- it seemed inevitable they would run out of steam. (Eight hours of "Little Dorrit" is a lot of "Little Dorrit," even when it’s good story.) And they have, ending the series with a 90-minute version of "The Old Curiosity Shop" that streamlines plot, character and tone to the point that you have to wonder why they bothered.

It's not that "The Old Curiosity Shop" is bad television -- with Derek Jacobi, Toby Jones and Zoë Wanamaker involved, they could have shot it for YouTube and it would have been worth watching. It's just not very good Dickens.

Oh, most of the major plot points still occur. Little Nell (Sophie Vavasseur) lives with her kindly if irresponsible grandfather (Jacobi), who manages to gamble away his money and wind up in debt to the evil dwarf Quilp (Jones). Nell and her grandfather still leave the shop, now in Quilp's hands, fleeing to the country, where they encounter (very abridged) adventures. Kit (George MacKay) is still Nell's faithful friend, who, at the prompting of a mysterious stranger, does everything he can to find the two runaways before Quilp and the increasingly ambivalent Dick Swiveller (Geoff Breton) do.

To read more, click here.

-Mary McNamara

File credit: PBS