I am a big period drama fan. So a few years ago, a friend who knew I liked period dramas asked if I’d ever watched one of the Catherine Cookson adaptations. I said that I hadn’t and my friend went on to tell me that I should and how Cookson writes these sweeping epic novels that make great adaptations.
Well, last week I noticed there was one of Cookson’s adaptations posted on Netflix. A Dinner of Herbs. I decided to watch it. I know there are those who absolutely love her films and novels so there had to be something to it.
This week I am watching the 2005 version of Dicken’s Bleak House. My thoughts on the two series got me to thinking. Yes, these two authors lived nearly a century apart but they have both become beloved authors and the period dramas emanating from their works are many. They both focus much attention to the common man and the realities of life. But which do you prefer to watch?
I have to admit that when watching the Cookson series, I wasn’t completely impressed. Of course, I am making a judgement on only one series. After watching the first two or three parts, I realized I didn’t exactly care about any of the three leads and what happened to them. I forced myself to finish the series. However, I must admit the series grew on me as I finished it. I gave it three stars on Netflix. Afterwards, I got to thinking about the series and the plot and realized I really didn’t like it as I pulled it all apart in my mind.
Now I have read several Dickens books and watched many adaptations. I’ve loved them all. This week I started watching the 2005 Bleak House which was adapted by my favorite period drama screenwriter Andrew Davies. (Okay I hate what he did with the newest A Room with a View, but otherwise his films are terrific.) I found myself comparing the Dickens series to the Cookson series. I was excited to move on to each part in the Dickens. I cared about the characters and wanted to see what would happen next.
I suppose, for one thing, it seems like Dickens gives you a good guy (or girl or both) to support and root for, occasionally a mystery to unravel and the baddies are to be reviled and hissed at. I didn’t feel like that while watching the Cookson series. Perhaps the Cookson characters were just too flawed for my taste. Some viewers and readers like that in their entertainment. I am just not one of them.
So which do you prefer, Dickens or Cookson? Love to hear your opinions. Maybe you have a recommendation of another Cookson series that will change my mind.