Plot: What’s it about?
Charles Dickens (Roy Dotrice) is in America on his final tour, as his health has take a drastic turn for the worse. Now on his death bed, Dickens reflects on his life with the tour’s manager. He then guides the manager through numerous flashbacks, painting the portrait of his own life. The story of his youth, where he worked in a factory while his sister was pampered, his father John a failure who lands in debtor’s prison. His youth was a far cry from his later days of success and fame, but Dickens’ childhood had huge impact on his writing, to be sure. Dickens then moves on his young adulthood, when he made his first strides into the worlds of stagecraft and writing, not always smooth strides, either. From there, Dickens details his success as a writer, how he formulated his books and various anecdotes about their creations. The story of Dickens’ life is a grand one and one that influenced his work to no end, so in the end, his own story was his greatest accomplishment.
Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors, so of course, this mini-series about his life held immense interest to me. I knew about Dickens of London, but I’d never been able to see it until now. This is indeed a comprehensive look at Dickens’ life, from his youth to adulthood to his old age. This is a thirteen part series and each episode focuses on one flashback in his life, so we’re there through his entire life. Dickens said he drew some of his characters and situations from his own life, which we’re able to see here, especially in the way of his father John. This series is sure to delight fans of Dickens, as his story is told in period drama fashion, as if this is another of Dickens’ tales. The production values aren’t great, but the costumes and locations look good. The cast is led by Roy Dotrice and the performances are solid across the board. In the end, Dickens of London was a pleasure to watch and for even casual fans of the author, this release is recommended.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in full frame, as intended. The series looks good, but not great. These British productions from this time period rarely hold up, shot on video and all. The image is soft to be sure, so detail isn’t good, but this looks much like it would have when first broadcast. The image doesn’t have much in terms of damage or debris, so aside from the general softness, the visuals come across well. The colors do have a slight fade and contrast is on the soft side, but neither is to an extreme degree. So this is more than watchable, but don’t expect the world.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is passable, but unremarkable. If you’ve seen other ITV productions from this time period, then you know about what to expect. The audio is a touch thin, but sounds fine. The main element here is dialogue and vocals sound good, with no harshness or hard to understand moments. The music sounds decent too, but with little presence, while the assorted sound effects are as good as we can expect in this case.
Supplements: What are the extras?
An Audience With Charles Dickens is the only extra provided, but it is a substantial one. This is a recreation of the famous public performance of A Christmas Carol, so quite an appropriate inclusion. Fans of Dickens would have probably bought this on its own, so it adds a lot of value to this release.