The bleak, depressing atmosphere of a factory town in mid-nineteenth century England is caught and conveyed in this excellent adaptation of the Charles Dickens' novel. Episodes one and two capture the drabness of the town and the how the factory owner combines with the politicians to maintain control of the situation. Far from doing anything to try to ameliorate and improve the lot of the workers, the program shows how those who do not tow the line and demonstrate any independence of thought are ridiculed, ostracized and rejected. The most dramatic and sympathetic character is Stephen Blackpool, who struggles to maintain his integrity in a corrupt environment. Having lived in a poorhouse himself, Charles Dickens was uniquely qualified to write about the abuses inherent in an economic system that systematically sought to keep people in their place and stifle anything that even remotely resembled independence of thought. What is surprising is not that the factory town was inherently a nasty place, but that anyone would go out of their way to defend it.