THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD is the second of two Dickens adaptations that the BBC showed over the New Year 2011/2012. The good news is that it's a damn sight better than GREAT EXPECTATIONS, being noticeably more 'Dickensian' in feel, with plenty of amusingly monkeyed supporting characters. The hilarious scenes involving churchyard urchin Deputy are alone better than anything in that other awful production.
My viewing of this one benefited from not having read the famously incomplete story that Dickens died during writing. It's split into two instalments, and the first does admirably well in setting up the chessboard of characters: Matthew Rhys (BROTHERS AND SISTERS) is great as the sweaty and sinister Jack Jasper. Kudos too for the familiar character actors fleshing out more minor roles: Julia McKenzie, Ian McNeice and Alun Armstrong all acquit themselves well, and Rory Kinnear (FIRST MEN IN THE MOON) seems to be going from strength to strength.
What a shame, then, that the second part just doesn't hold up. It's clear that this segment wasn't written by Dickens, instead completed by the scriptwriter. The ending is particularly bad, hinging around one massive plot hole/contrivance (a character appearing from nowhere at just the right time) that it's impossible to ignore. Way too many twists are attempted in this latter part so that it feels muddled and ludicrous, nothing like Dickens at all.