‘The Artful Dodger’ Series Review: A Fresh Take on a Classic Dickens Story

In November of 2023, Hulu released The Artful Dodger, a thrilling series set in 1850s Australia filled with redemption, love, and social standards. Jack Dawkins (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), a former navy surgeon, is trying to create a life of respectability in the colony. As you witness the drama, betrayal, romance, and redemption that construct Jack’s journey, you will be captivated by this incredible show. With exciting performances and a fresh take on a classic story by Charles DickensThe Artful Dodger is a show you won’t want to miss.

The story of The Artful Dodger

Set in 1850s Australia, the story is about Jack Dawkins, a former navy surgeon. He’s trying to live a good, respectable life in the colony, but his past comes back to haunt him when an old friend named Norbert Fagin (David Thewlis) shows up. Fagin gets Jack involved in a life of crime once again because Jack owes a lot of money from his gambling debts.

As Jack deals with his criminal past and professional aspirations, the story progresses, and things get more complicated when Jack meets Lady Belle Fox (Maia Mitchell), the Governor’s daughter. Belle’s mother warns Jack to stay away from her daughter, adding to the tension. However, she wants to be a surgeon, which is unusual for a woman at that time. Jack agrees to teach her.

The story gets dramatic as Jack tries to balance his new life and old troubles. Fagin’s schemes and betrayals keep causing problems, making it hard for Jack to keep his reputation clean and his relationship with Belle stable.

Jack must navigate his feelings for Belle while owning up to his past in The Artful Dodger

As The Artful Dodger goes on through the episodes, Jack has to navigate his feelings for Belle while facing his past and the consequences of his actions. The turmoil culminates in a dramatic climax as Jack tries to save Belle’s life with a risky surgery, but he gets betrayed and arrested by Gaines (Damon Herriman), a figure who wants to clean up the colony and get rid of crime.

The actors in The Artful Dodger have received abundant praise for their performances. Thomas Brodie-Sangster brought complexity to the role as he played Jack Dawkins, the Artful Dodger himself. Brodie-Sangster did a fantastic job in his performance, conveying the internal conflict with his past and present. David Thewlis, as Norbert Fagin, makes the character strong, brilliant, and shady, bringing much gravitas to the character. Maia Mitchell is as always spectacular as Lady Belle Fox, perfectly showing her resilience and complexity. The show has a strong ensemble of performers, including Damon HerrimanTim MinchinDamien GarveyLucy-Rose Leonard, and Nicholas Burton, who all masterfully played their roles. Overall, the actors’ performances are a monumental part of the show’s success.

Characters drive the story and themes in The Artful Dodger

The characters in Hulu’s The Artful Dodger play important roles and contribute to the story and its themes in various ways. Jack Dawkins, also known as the Artful Dodger, is the show’s main character. He’s a skilled surgeon who used to be a pickpocket, and now he’s struggling to leave his criminal past behind. His inner conflict and desire for redemption drive the story, showing themes like love and the temptation of the criminal underworld. 

Norbert Fagin’s reappearance in Jack’s new life makes things more complicated by reminding Jack of his old life. Adding layers of betrayal and his connection to him makes him feel the pull of his past. Lady Belle Fox, the Governor’s daughter, is determined to become a surgeon, but her high social status makes it hard for her to be with Jack. This represents the aspirational, yet impossible love of high society, which makes her relationship with Jack complicated. Supporting characters like Captain Lucien Gaines and Darius Cracksworth contribute to the story with the web of relationships, heists, and betrayals, which help develop the wild and exciting story of The Artful Dodger. The series intermingles with romance, crime, and reinvention elements in 1850s Australia, making it a fascinating story about the characters’ decisions and conflicts.

Visually compelling and immersive

Other reviews of The Artful Dodger have praised it for its stylistic revisions and energetic presentation; some reviews have noted unevenness in certain aspects of the show, particularly in the development of the central romance and the portrayal of side characters. Despite these criticisms, the series’ technical prowess and captivating cinematography contribute to its distinctive and modernized adaptation of the classic tale, providing audiences with a visually compelling and immersive viewing experience.

The Artful Dodger has wild, energetic, and stimulating bright visuals. Despite being set in 1850s Australia, the series stays fresh and dynamic by adding exciting visuals and incorporating rock music, giving it a modern twist. This new take on the old story makes it feel fresh and up-to-date. It’s a vibrant portrayal with a revitalizing take on a classic.

The 1850s means no anesthesia and no antibiotics

The show is a balance of contemporary zeal and the spectacle and brutality of surgical procedures performed in the show. Since The Artful Dodger takes place 1850s, these surgeries were performed without anesthesia and antibiotics. It deepens the plot and adds a new dimension to the story. It’s also interesting to see on screen.

Even though The Artful Dodger has an energetic and captivating presentation, other reviewers have noted that the romance development and the side characters’ stories could be more balanced. Nonetheless, the show’s technical skills and intriguing cinematography have made it a distinctive and modernized adaption, giving the audience an immersive experience.

The appeal of The Artful Dodger is varied and the show has rightly so gained significant recognition because of the fantastic performances, modern approach to the source material, and unique storytelling. Overall, it’s a tale about Jack’s struggles with societal expectations, overcoming his past, and his efforts to redeem himself by doing the right thing in a challenging situation. The show is set against the backdrop of colonial Australia and explores themes like love, ambition, and facing the consequences of your actions.

The Artful Dodger is now streaming.

Have you checked out The Artful Dodger yet? What do you think? Do you have a favorite character? Connect with us on X @MoviesWeTexted.


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