October 05, 2010

The Master Story-teller Does Soaps

I admit that I, like anyone else who has spent more than a few days in a hospital bed in a conscious state, have watched Soap Operas. When you spend a month, as I did, lying in a hospital bed, unable to get up, trying to distract yourself from the pain and despair of your situation (is that a bit dramatic?), there isn't much to do but watch TV to pass the time....and there aren't that many options. At least there weren't for me. Either the hospital I was in didn't have many channels at that time, or they didn't exist. The channels, I mean.

Whatever the case, my options were....game shows (ugh!), talk shows (double ugh!), old episodes of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" (actually, it was pretty funny), and soap operas. The "soaps" seemed to be the most plentiful, and certainly the most distracting. I couldn't even tell you now (11 years later) what the shows were called or what the characters' names were. But I can tell you that their complicated lives and relationships (albeit, very silly and unrealistic) kept me sane during a very dark and difficult time in my life. Those writers really know how to hook you, reel you in, and drag you along. Very long.

I haven't watched any "soaps" since then, but I laugh with fond memories when I think of the ridiculous plots and over-the-top acting. I took an acting class in college from a professor who had acted in soaps, and he talked about what a demanding job it is....constantly getting new scripts and having to learn them quickly, filming daily with little or no rehearsal. So, I guess I can cut them some slack for being so amateurish and hokey.

BUT, over the last few days I have watched all 14 episodes of the most amazing show that I can't help comparing to a soap opera in some ways; each episode ends leaving you dying to watch the next one; it's filled with a huge cast of characters with complicated lives and they are all inter-connected; numerous plot twists and turns; and themes of money, power, social status, deceit, debt, romance and mystery... it has it all.

Unlike "soaps," this show was wonderfully written (by the screenwriter Andrew Davies no less, whom you may not have heard of, but have surely seen something he has written), superbly acted by an extremely talented cast, and not the slightest bit silly (though there are plenty of lavish clothes to be seen). Oh....and it's adapted from a novel by Charles Dickens. You won't see that on "Days of Our Lives."

So, go rent "Little Dorrit" (or check it out from the library, like I did), but let me give you some advice:

1) Don't start watching it until you know you have plenty of time to devote to it, because you won't be able to stop, and you will stay up late. Very late.

2) Turn on the subtitles.... even if you don't have trouble understanding their accents, it helps to keep the characters straight. Trust me. It's complicated.

3) Invite your husband to join you... he will enjoy it just as much as you will. Mine was hooked.

Next I'm going to watch "Bleak House." I'll let you know what I think.


  1. Bleak House was sooooooo good! My mother-in-law told me to watch it and it was amazing. Plus it has Scully from X-Files and she was surprisingly convincing! I'll have to rent Little Dorrit. It sounds like my kind of movie. You should also watch Daniel Deronda. It's not an entire mini-series but a two-part movie. I watched it with Mom and Dad and they liked it as well.

  2. Little Dorrit was already in my Netflix queue, but I moved it to the top of the list after reading your post. I have loved the first four episodes that I've gotten to watch to date. Thank you for sharing.


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