Little Dorrit

Masterpiece Classic miniseries, March 29–April 26.

With Charles Dickens, you expect an innocent saint of a hero, broadly drawn yet charmingly idiosyncratic characters, sensational setbacks and reversals, and, of course, some populist agitation, and Little Dorrit does not disappoint on those fronts: check, check, check, and check. What surprised me, though, is how timely that populist agitation is. We’re inured to the deprivations of “A Christmas Carol,” and Bleak House focuses on arcane nineteenth-century British legalties, but the targets of Little Dorrit come straight from today’s newspapers: ruinous Ponzi schemes, predatory lenders and landlords, a financial system that rewards those who shuffle money about rather than those who actually produce goods. As melodramatic as Little Dorrit is (very), the rage at its core about capitalism gone awry is still all too relevant, and it still burns.