ome previous adaptations of Oliver Twist, such as the musical Oliver!, wore the sharp edges off of Charles Dickens’ portrait of the sordid underside of Victorian London. This brisk, vibrant new two-part Masterpiece restores all the pathos, cruelty, and muck the author intended. An excellent cast brings the sometimes grotesque characters to vivid life: Timothy Spall as a splendid Fagin, Sophie Okonedo as the tragic doxy Nancy, Tom Hardy as a truly menacing Bill Sikes, Adam Arnold as the Artful Dodger. As the plucky hero (the first child protagonist in an English novel, host Laura Linney points out), young William Miller is sympathetic but never syrupy. Sundays, Feb. 15–22, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why Texas Republicans may want to cool the anti-Obama land-grab talk
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
- Why China's Communist Party is headed for collapse
- How to make perfect fried rice in 6 easy steps
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- How my boyfriend and I learned to live on one income
- Why conservatives see rural America as the 'real' America
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
Subscribe to the Week