One of the early 2000s period dramas from a BBC production team, inspiration for Bleak House comes from the Dickens novel of the same name.
Bleak House (2005) BBC Period Drama Review
Long ago she stopped feeling. Something that is the result of her heart-breaking past. It’s at this stage in her life that Lady Dedlock (Gillian Anderson) remembers. The life she leads bores her even as the wealthy and respected wife of Sir Leicester Dedlock (Timothy West), a man whose name is above reproach. This extends not just to peers but to his solicitor, Mr. Tulkinghorn (Charles Dance) who will let nothing bring ruin to the Dedlock name. Even if it means going to war with the lady of the house…
Coinciding with this, Mr. John Jarndyce (Denis Lawson) brings together three young people as his wards. Esther Summerson (Anna Maxwell Martin) is a woman with dark memories of being told she should never have been born. Engaged as companion to Miss Ada Clare (Carey Mulligan), Esther is grateful to be trusted enough to run a household. Along with Ada, dreamer Richard Carstone (Patrick Kennedy) has claims to the Jarndyce inheritance case. It’s a court case with multiple wills, all of which causes the case to drag for years with little to no resolution…‘BLEAK HOUSE’: AN INTRICATE AND EPIC BEAUTIFUL BRITISH MASTERPIECE. Review of the 2005 miniseries. #BleakHouse #CharlesDickens #PeriodDrama #Romance #Romantic #CostumeDrama #CareyMulligan #AnnaMaxwellMartin #GillianAnderson #British Click To Tweet
This is one of those period drama’s that I would have watched all the way back in 2005 or 2006. It’s also one I would have been quite excited to see at the time. Not a traditional two hour film yet not a TV show, the production is cut up different ways depending on how you watch it. On DVD, it’s mostly in 30-minute installments. On streaming, it’s eight hour-long episodes. If there is a production to fit the use of “epic,” this is one. In this story is also a host of other characters. From Mr. Smallweed to Joe; Sergeant George (played by The Musketeers’ Hugo Speer) to Caddy; Mr. Woodcourt to Guppy. On the character list keeps growing and the talent who plays them impresses.
Chances are always high anytime a name like BBC features with a period drama production, it will be good. This is true in excess here. Even with the things that we don’t love (like a quick shot succession to denote a change in place), this is still a superior production. Everything about it feels very authentic when it comes to setting though I’m not sure all of the dialogue or actions are totally period authentic. But the look of it seems to be, so that’s a win. Also, ending is unimportant in the “big picture,” but so darn cute that it deserves a shout-out.
If you don’t mind investing in an eight hour drama about familial and unrequited love, sadness, happiness, murder, and even a little romance, then Bleak House is a good pick. It’s a memorable production that I honestly forgot how good it is until I rewatched it; and as someone who did remember liking it, the fact that this still surprises me is a pleasant outcome.
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Content: There’s not a lot to note in terms of content. There’s very little sexual content (kisses) and talk of past sexual sins. Mostly this is adult with its themes (murder, blackmail and death). This likely means a TV-14 rating though I think most of the episodes had the PG rating.