The American television network TNT proclaims in its advertisements, "We know drama," but it can't hold a candle to the BBC. Since the sixties, the Beeb has been producing exquisite adaptations of classic literature. These include the plays of Shakepeare, Shaw, and Wilde, the novels of Eliot, Austen, and Trollope, and the works of many other treasures of British and Irish literature, not to mention those of other European nations: Ibsen, Checkhov, Dostoyevsky, and so on.
These productions tend to be simple, elegantly-appointed affairs. There's very little flash, and some viewers may be disappointed by their talky, set-bound nature, yet they are quite faithful to their sources. Performances are uniformly top-notch, often by the most talented and justly famous of British actors: Ben Kingsley, Anthony Hopkins, Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart, John Hurt, Diana Rigg, Rex Harrison, John Gielgud, Joan Plowright, and many more.
This series of Dickens adaptations and its parter, Volume 1, do not utilize thespians especially well-known to Americans (though Ian McKellen, Maggie Smith, Bob Hoskins, and Daniel Radcliffe do star in "David Copperfield" on Volume 2), but the acting and direction are excellent.
If you love British literature and history, particularly the Victorian period, you will find these DVD sets to be thoroughgoing treats. They will expose you to dramas both familiar and obscure and will encourage you to delve more deeply into the perennial delight that is Charles Dickens.
Both 2009 sets use slim rather than standard DVD cases, so they are more compact versions of the sets issued in 2005 and 2006, but their contents are identical. They are highly recommended in either form.