Attack of the House


Is the six part BBC mini-series not the perfect way to adapt a novel? A film based on a novel may be good every now and then, but only a mini-series can emulate the feeling of living with the characters that a good novel has. It’s rare to read a novel in one sitting; six sittings is just about right.1 It gives things a chance to percolate in your head. More importantly, it allows one to write a paragraph a week and end up with a solid review. I now present my Bleak House Diaries.

Oh, and that’s not the title. But I refuse to go around calling TV shows by their episode numbers. It’s uncouth. I’ll be naming the series for you in a suitably Dickensian fashion.

Week 1. Let us get something out of the way immediately; I love the names of Dickens’ characters. Jellyby. Skimpole. Pardiggle. Tulkinghorn. Brilliant. I can also confirm for old X-Files fans that Gillian Anderson is still hot, in an old, forbidding, slightly creepy sort of way.

So there’s these two young things, adorable and naive, swept up as possible heirs to a massive fortune, tied up in litigation for some years now. They’re brought to London to stay with Mr Jarndyce, who seems far too nice and must have some sort of agenda. For a reason I missed, a cute brunette is brought along to accompany them. Before they’ve settled in, she’s already picked up a stalker, who resembles a white Michael Jackson.2 Meanwhile, there’s a noble-seeming, poor-living bugger who can’t pay his rent wandering the streets and transcribing legislation for wages, and a beautiful nobleman’s wife who sees his handwriting by chance, and gets all a-flutter, even going so far as to faint.

There are hints of nastiness in the wind. There’s an evil-looking lawyer snooping into Mr Nemo’s affairs. There’s an apparently mindless lazy dolt who gives off a duplicious air. This is good, intriguing stuff.

Week 2. I have now remembered the Dead Ringers spoof of Bleak House — two scenes of people sitting around doing nothing, woven together with loud noises and crazy camera zooms. It wasn’t entirely unfair. There was one set of scenes this week that seemed particularly pointlessly split up. And the sound effects do seem to be getting louder. I’ll swear they’re stock sci-fi noises. Woooosh!

Esther falls in love this week, but has the chance of love cruelly snatched away. I’m much more easily manipulated by love stories in the olden days. They just don’t get that many chances; how brutal that a good match gets snatched away. And she’s still got her sneaky stalker. Lady Dedlock seeks out the grave of Mr Nemo and is much affected. Meanwhile, the Evil Lawyer Tulkinghorn appears to be tightening the noose on a trap for her. I can’t shake the feeling that bad things are about to happen to everyone. It’s best to choose the characters who absolutely must end up unscathed and sacrifice the others to television’s gods of karma. The male heir can go. He’s a useless pain in the arse. Little Miss Cutie, his companion, may stay.

  1. What? Fifteen? Surely not.
  2. Hmmmmmm.
They say he sold his soul to the Devil. If he did, I don't know what he did with the money. — Krook

2 Responses to “Attack of the House”

  1. Will you condense the 15 episodes into a 6 part review series?

    Why is Gillian so much taller than the other characters? Is she a giant?

  2. I’m unsure how to proceed. I may drop back to one review per episode. I may move up to three. The whole review was written on the assumption that it was a six episode series. The next review will apologise more fully.

    The characters in the picture are graphed in order of public appeal. Having been in a high-profile US TV show, Gillian is much much bigger. Anna Maxwell Martin was in an episode of Doctor Who that’s been shown in the US so she’s quite large. Richard Griffiths would have been bigger but his scenes were cut from the most recent Harry Potter film.