Some random thoughts…
Pop psychology is ruining drama. I caught a glimpse of an animated Christmas Carol where Scrooge’s misanthropy was explained by a flashback to his time in an orphanage when he was the only child who didn’t get a visitor for Christmas. And in the brand new shiny Oliver, Bill Sykes couldn’t get his come-uppance without being tortured by visions of the murdered Nancy. Fagin was redeemed on the scaffold by refusing to fall on his knees and renounce his Jewishness. Mind you, the sentimentality when Dodger tearfully turned his back on the hanging only to be comforted by Bullseye, Sykes dog, was pure Dickens even if he didn’t get round to writing it.
Dr Who and Robin Hood both had lush Christmas specials. To lose Kylie and Maid Marion in three days – who’d have thought it?
Billie Piper seemed badly miscast as Sally Lockheart in Philip Pullman’s Victorian detective yarn. But the big surprise in this dramatisation of The Shadow in the North was how tame the whole thing was. Pullman has a reputation for dark, edgy stories but this was as cosy as it gets. It felt like a children’s story written by a vicar.