Rollover Information
About the Series Schedule The Archive Learning Resources The American Collection Home Search Shop
The Archive Broadcast Schedule Masterpiece Theatre Forum Forum

Forum [image map with 2 links]

Visit this site:
Bleak House

Share your thoughts
Forum Home

Bleak House
updated 5.11.2006

Warning! Plot points may be revealed below!

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Thank you for an outstanding dramatic presentation of Dickens' novel! The casting was brilliant, the sets remarkable and the pace intoxicating. The best drama on television. All should be very proud of the result!

Donald Kauke
West Hartford, CT

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Sort of blue today since Bleak House is now complete and I will miss my "fix" of Dickens for the time being. Was wondering why that disgusting fellow in the carrying chair (whose name just escaped my brain) had to be "shook up" in his bones by Judy all the time. Was this some type of cure during the era?

Gail James
Lacey, WA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The best show I have ever seen in any genre!

Melvin Greenblatt
Ventura, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I tuned in every Sunday to watch Bleak House and I watched every second. I was memorized by it all, particularly about the last will and testament of John Jarndyce. How did that will get in Mr. Krook's boarding house? Now I have to read the book. Loved it, loved it, loved it!

Phyliss Levine
New York, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
To my mind the most engrossing and beautifully produced series ever presented on PBS. I couldn't wait for the next episode to come along. Even though I had seen the 1985 version, I felt this production was far superior. The casting was perfect!

Marcia Maytner
Caldwell, NJ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I'm sorry, but Bleak House was just plain dumb and dropped my opinion of Dickens through the floor. There must be better things to spend your money on. At least I didn't have to read the damn thing.

Nathan Coolee
Urbana, IL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I thoroughly enjoyed Bleak House on Masterpiece Theatre. It was a riveting drama/mystery. The series was well-acted. The atmosphere which is so Dickens was extremely well-represented by this piece. I attended Girls' Latin School in Dorchester, MA, in the 1960s and early 1970s and read and studied a few of Charles Dickens' works. My class was actually required to read Nicholas Nickleby. It was a mammoth book with tissue paper pages.

My family and I waited each week for the installments of the series. I loved the casting of the characters! Lady Dedlock, Esther, Smallweed, Tulkinghorn, Mr. Guppy, Bucket and Clamb were incredibly excellent, as were all of the other characters. Another favorite was Mr. Jarndyce himself, who portrayed a wonderful manner and sensibility of the times. Mr. Skimpole was also very indicative of the times in which Dickens wrote. Jo was a classic character who recurs again and again in Dickens literature: the very poor, young street urchin. The entire cast and production was superb.

Masterpiece Theatre productions far outshine the other so called 'entertainment' on tv/cable channels. Please keep scheduling such fine programs. They are stellar.

Cynthia Connors
Wilmington, MA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I think that overall a good job was done in condensing Dickens' Bleak House for television. I thought too that the cast selection was excellent with one glaring exception: the main character, Esther. In the book the mystery and suspense are heightened by the fact that Esther resembled her mother Lady Dedlock, a great beauty of the day. Although Esther downplayed her own good looks, she was not the plain -- yes, unattractive -- character as portrayed in the PBS story.

For me it was a great detraction to have Ester played by someone who acted well but did not meet the vision of what I believe Dickens intended for his Esther. In addition, Bucket's character was not as developed as the Dickens detective, one of the first detectives in literature. He comes across very well in the end of the novel but not as clearly in the PBS version.

I felt that the final episode was a bit rushed. Lady Dedlock's death seemed less likely because her long arduous journey through a snowstorm was changed to a seemingly quicker trip through rain. I know much had to be omitted but perhaps the ending could have had a little more suspense. All in all it was a pretty good job, but a different Esther would have made it great.

Brenda Harris
Warrenton, VA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Justin Chadwick should never be given another directing job. His "technique" of putting cameras behind objects (bottles, branches, whatever) in order to obscure the scene and its actors was not a good idea. In addition, the editing of Bleak House was jarring. I randomly counted and the average shot was about three seconds long. Whatever made the director and editor think Dickens would be well-served by this technique?

Was Andrew Davies at fault? I don't think so, but he shares some blame for this completely unengaging rendition. I've seen the version from the 1980s, and I honestly believe that it is just as good, if not better. Certainly this version was not a real improvement.

I believe the actors were all quite good. Unfortunately, the director's style did not allow them to truly work their craft. How would that be possible, three to four seconds at a time?

Patrick Rist
Bon Aqua, TN

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This show was just incredible. I was riveted from the very first hour. Just how many Emmys this production garners is yet to be seen, but from my perspective it should be up for at least the following: Direction, Cinematography, Sound, Production Design, Costumes, Editing, Screenplay, and not in the least the superb acting/casting. Absolutely amazing. I can't wait to purchase the DVD!

Jeffrey L. Porrello
Toluca Lake, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I must say I am left at a loss for words to describe how much my mom, sister and I enjoyed Bleak House! We kept up with all six episodes, recording every single one, loving it more and more. We'll eventually buy the DVD. I've never read the book, but this movie was so mysterious and suspenseful! Gillian Anderson was so believable, and Anna Maxwell Martin played an excellent part as Esther! The score was beautiful as well. I thought I knew what to expect, but so much of it caught me by surprise! A job well done on the whole production, and my family and I were all very pleased with such a beautiful ending! Keep presenting such excellent masterpieces!

Katryn Miller
Richardson, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I would just like to take this opportunity to thank PBS for Bleak House. I can safely say I have never seen anything better on TV and never have I been sadder to see something end. Just... thanks.

Ernest Schirmer
Saugerties, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I've always enjoyed Charles Dickens and Masterpiece Theatre. You can't be disappointed with either, but when you put them together... wow!! Hats off to all involved... what a great production. I've seen every episode and I'm looking forward to the final episode tonight. I actually hadn't heard of Bleak House until your program aired nor did I know this Masterpiece production was scheduled until I began to watch on the first night. What a great surprise! What a pleasure to watch these episodes and to see the Bleak House story for the first time. Many thanks.

Steve Sansing
Knoxville, TN

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am going to reiterate how much I love this series. I am hooked completely. The character of Lady Dedlock was performed perfectly by the actress Gillian Anderson. She is simply riveting. I wish it would never end. I simply cannot get this novel out of my mind. It offers so much psychological and social commentary of the Victorian era but applies to contemporary times as well. Probably books could be written about the pivotal character of Lady Dedlock... indeed, how locked in she has been as a woman, a wife and as a member of the upper class. She knows it, but cannot do very much about it. She has lost her opportunity for love and happiness and has been wedded to a man too old, certainly not the love of her live and surely not nearly as psychologically deep and wounded as she. I can't wait for Sunday's episode but I surely want more. I'll buy the series. Great job, Masterpiece Theatre you have done it yet again!

Natalie Rosen
Framingham, MA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I'm really enjoying the series. I'm also rereading the book. The relationship in the book between Esther and Mr. Jarndyce is very warm and loving, although she does not want to marry him. In the series, she seems a bit cold towards him. Also, I noticed in the series Ada speaks sharply to Esther and her guardian a couple of times. Dickens never wrote anything like that. I suppose it's because modern adapters can't imagine or don't think the public could accept a girl being so pliable as Ada, or someone being as good tempered and peaceful as Esther. So they have to make out that Esther resents Mr. Jarndyce a little, or that Ada is capable of showing anger, which neither ever did in the book. In any case, the whole thing is very enjoyable.

Raye Samuel
New York, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
In my opinion, Masterpiece Theatre has always delivered top-notch productions but you've really outdone yourselves with Bleak House. The casting, the acting, the set design and production are pure perfection. Charles Dickens' England, as dark and dreary, as repressive and abusive as that era was, never looked better. I eagerly await each new episode. Kudos to everyone involved in bringing this endeavor to the screen. You've done a fabulous job!

Mary Ruth Hunt
Lakewood, OH

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Fantastic!! Bleak House brought out an interest in Dickens that I never knew existed. All of the actors in this series are brilliant! Thank you!

Wendy Marksberry
Newton Falls, OH

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have watched Masterpiece Theatre since its inception. It is for me the most superior effort on U.S. television. It is my lifeline to my home in the U.K. Please never cease to produce it. Bleak House is by far the best production I have ever seen. It is superior to the other great production of the same book.

Pauline Hunt
Middletown, IN

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Masterpiece Theatre and the current series, Bleak House, are simply the best television can offer. The plays and the performances are consistently enthralling, riveting, superior viewing.

Roberta Kravitz

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This is one of the best shows I have seen this year on PBS. I absolutely love it! I am so enthralled. I am so glad I can purchase the DVD set so I can watch it as many times as I want. Keep up the great programming!

Antoinette Thorne
Youngstown, OH

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Thank you for the outstanding program Bleak House. I so look forward to Sunday evening at 9:00 p.m. when the next episode is on. The acting is superb as well as the music, the script adaptation, the sets, and costumes. I have read Bleak House so I am aware of the complexities of adapting this novel to film. Great attention to detail is evident in every scene. Thanks to all involved for bringing this to light.

Margaret Sutterley
Valencia, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Thank you for airing Bleak House in its entirety. I had heard the rave reviews from the UK and was pleased to see how fast Masterpiece Theatre aired (uncut and unedited) it here in the States. The sets, actors, and the costumes were all first-rate (aside from the rather jerky camera motions in the beginning). I hope that the airing of Bleak House will help Masterpiece Theatre find a sponsor and show how PBS is still needed on TV for quality shows. Thank goodness for the BBC and PBS.

Heather Lisy

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Bleak House, is incredibly well-done and I look forward to each episode! This is one of the few series that is "better than the book" and that is high praise indeed, as I seldom find that to be true. Thank you, PBS, for Masterpiece Theatre!

Diane Downing
Melfa, VA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Having never before been inclined to watch Masterpiece Theatre, I must say I'm delighted with the program thus far. Of course, who doesn't like Dickens, though I'd never heard of Bleak House. Thank you for airing this magnificent production!

Linda Bedtelyon
Naples, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I just began watching Bleak House on PBS in Boston, MA. I simply love it. How could one not love Dickens? He is timeless. I have watched the first episode twice and each time I get more out of it. One of my favorite characters is Lady Dedlock. The actress Gillian Anderson is simply marvelous as is the entire cast. The direction is fascinating and the historical period riveting. Thank you for such an entertaining event. One can always count on PBS for a great artistic experience!

Natalie Rosen
Framingham, MA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Why do we have to wait a whole week for the next episode? Some of us might not be around for that length of time!

Jim Gleason
Silver Spring, MD

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
When I first read about this upcoming series, I was excited to see Gillian Anderson listed as one of the characters. I decided to follow the series, but was afraid that it might bore me. I'm very picky. But I have to say I have enjoyed every bit of it! The way it was shot, in kind of a cutting-edge way, still fits the feel of it. And all the actors are really great... very interesting and professional.

Karina Karon
San Diego, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I feel quite sure that Dickens intended the name Jarndyce to be pronounced with a British "r" and a short "y," not as the actors in the series are pronouncing it, "John-dice," but rather "John-diss," i.e. "Jaundice." Then the joke about the lawsuit "Jaundice and Jaundice" of which everyone is heartily sick makes sense and fits with all of Dickens' other glorious joke names: Dedlock, Guppy, Tulkinghorn, Bayham Badger, Krook, Turveydrop, and so on. But so far that is the series' only defect -- the cast is wonderful!

A. Rider

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have seen only the first episode -- it showed twice in the same evening, and I watched it intently both times. I am hooked. The characters are already developing nicely, and the intertwining dramas are fascinating. This is one I have to order to treasure again and again.

Jill Craft
Odenton, MD

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I'm sure Dickens would have loved Masterpiece Theatre's Bleak House, as long as he was receiving royalties!

Bruce Friedlander
Westminster, MD

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
After watching the first hour of this series I felt that it was more of a chore than a pleasure to stay with it. This is a directing style I find very annoying: excessively dark, chaotic, often incoherent. And when you have actors mumbling through their lines it all adds up to a less than engaging experience. It's too bad because the production quality seems to be otherwise first rate. Don't think I'll tune in to the rest of this.

John Mueter
Kansas City, MO

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
To be honest, I'm not a regular viewer of Masterpiece Theatre. I was flipping through the channels last night and stumbled upon Bleak House accidentally. After about 5 minutes, the show just sucked me in. I can't pinpoint exactly what it is about the series that is so captivating, but I can't wait until next week!

Y. L.
Stamford, CT

Share your thoughts

Home | About The Series | The American Collection | The Archive
Schedule & Season | Feature Library | eNewsletter | Book Club
Learning Resources | Forum | Search | Shop | Feedback

WGBH Logo PBS logo


Vertical Dotted Line