If you think you know the story of the Artful Dodger from “Oliver Twist”, think again, as this brand-new drama series follows an adult Dodger as he sets up a new life down under in Australia as a surgeon. Apparently, being light-fingered for pickpocketing gives you the perfect skills for becoming a surgeon. However, his past has a nasty way of catching up with him, when a gambling debt causes him to revert to his old ways, and he is encouraged into the life of crime when Fagen arrives off the latest convict ship from the UK.
While “The Artful Dodger” is based on the characters from “Oliver Twist”, it’s a very different tale and has a very different style. This is no musical, nor an animated adventure with a scruffy dog! Instead, it’s a drama series, set in Australia, two hundred years ago, but ironically, the characters feel more suited to living in modern times. The way they talk and act often feels like they’ve just jumped out of a time machine and gotten stuck in the past.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster is excellent in the title role, with lots of natural charisma, but also naturally suits that time period and can easily flip between the doctor and criminal with ease.
One of the core storylines is about the governor’s daughter, Lady Belle Fox, whom Maia Mitchell plays, and she wants to prove that women are just as capable of being doctors and uses Dodger’s situation to get him to train her to be a female doctor. It’s just a shame this storyline wasn’t made a little harder, showcasing how tough this would have been during that era. There’s also great chemistry between the two characters, where they push each other to be better.
This is, by no means, a gritty drama series set during the late eighteenth-century convict Australia. It’s all very shiny, sunny and a bit too clean. Though Fagin at least acknowledges how different it is from the grimy fog-ridden London of that era.
However, take away some of the more unrealistic aspects to the show and underneath, you’ve got an upbeat and cheery drama series. This quirky series doesn’t take itself too seriously, though some of the surgery scenes can get a bit bloody. The action moves along at a brisk pace, never hanging around on a specific storyline for too long, and it is a really enjoyable light-hearted show, which, considering many dramas are so heavy in tone nowadays, this one is a bit of a pallet cleanser.
For some bizarre reason, Disney decided that the latest Australian drama series, “The Artful Dodger”, was going to be released on Disney+ in the UK and Europe, two months after it was released everywhere else in the world, even though the series is a spin-off of the classic English novel, “Oliver Twist”, by Charles Dickens and stars two English actors in the main roles!
Overall: “The Artful Dodger” is a fun, easy-going light entertainment drama series that I could have easily seen air on the BBC on a Saturday night. It’s got all of the nostalgia of the story everyone knows, but set in a completely different time and country. It zips along at speed, entertaining throughout and delivering a really enjoyable show.
Rating: 4 Out Of 5
“The Artful Dodger” will be released on Disney+ in the UK and Europe on January 17th 2024. It is out now on Hulu and Hulu On Disney+ in the United States, on Disney+ around the world.
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Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.