Tonight, Disney+ releases its second Australian drama in the form of The Artful Dodger.
The series picks up in the 1850s, fifteen years following the events of Oliver Twist, where we meet Jack Dawkins (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), the impish pickpocket known as the Artful Dodger. Busted out of jail, he is now a respectable surgeon, but his past can’t easily be forgotten as when we meet him he’s gambling with a spot of pick-pocketing, hoping to get enough to clear his debt.
If he cannot pay, the punishment is getting his own hand chopped of – a bit problematic if you’re a surgeon.
Enter the villain of Oliver Twist, Norbert Fagin (David Thewlis), who mentored Dogder but now who is an unwelcome arrival for Dodger. Throw in Belle Fox (Maia Mitchell), the governor’s daughter who wants to become the first female surgeon, and you’ve got a show that really rockets along.
Written by James McNamara, the show’s opening hour certainly hooks with a pilot episode that has expanded the story of a classic character with action, adventure, and even a hint of romance.
Brodie-Sangster certainly has the charm of Dodger, with compelling performances also coming from Mitchell and Thewlis. And with a host of Australian talent, including Tim Minchin, Jessica de Gow, Damon Herriman, Miranda Tapsell, and Susie Porter, there’s no shortage of engaging performances from some much-loved faces.
If the first four episodes watched for this review are anything to go by, The Artful Dodger is a high contender for show of the year.
All episodes of The Artful Dodger are available to stream on Disney+, and on Hulu in the USA.