‘The Artful Dodger’ reviews round-up: ‘Playful’ spin-off is ‘a must-watch’ for Dickens fans

The first reviews are in for The Artful Dodger and it sounds surprisingly fun!

Set in 1850s Australia, the new period drama series explores the adult double life of Charles Dickens’ iconic character from Oliver Twist, now “a surgeon who can’t shake his predilection for crime.”

We weren’t entirely sure if another Dickensian spin-off was really necessary when this was announced…

But the casting of Thomas Brodie-Sangster from Love Actually and Game of Thrones as the title character, alongside Harry Potter actor David Thewlis as Fagin, had us intrigued.

We’re very happy to report that critics seem mostly impressed by the show so far, enjoying the “wild energy” and praising Brodie-Sangster’s performance as “an underdog you want to root for,” even if “the plotting is a little all over the place.”

“In the lively colony of Port Victory, Jack Dawkins, aka The Artful Dodger, is now a surgeon who still has a penchant for crime,” the official synopsis reveals.

“When Dodger’s past returns to haunt him with the arrival of Fagin, he is lured back into a world of crime. From heists to life-and-death surgeries, to the harsh realities of the criminal world mingling with the middle ground and gentry, this is a tale of reinvention, betrayal, redemption, and love with a twist.”

Watch the trailer here:

The Artful Dodger launches today – Wednesday 29 November – on Disney+ in Australia and on Hulu in the US.

The show will arrive in the UK and Ireland a bit later, with all eight episodes being made available to stream here on Disney+ from Wednesday 17 January 2024.

We’ve rounded up a selection of spoiler-free reviews here to help you decide if it’s worth a watch:


The Artful Dodger doesn’t run out of puff, fully committing to a twisty storyline told with panache. Even when the plotting is a little familiar, the packaging feels fresh: it’s the show’s wild energy that keeps it zipping along.

“The cast and crew read from the same sped-up song sheet, tongue firmly in cheek, resulting in a sweet spot that is playful, whimsical and self-conscious, but never smugly so.” ★★★★ – The Guardian


“Closer to a PG-ish version of The Knick than anything substantively Dickensian, this take on the Artful Dodger is a lightly adventurous medical rom-com, emphasis on “light.”

“Despite the added maturity of the main character, nothing in The Artful Dodger acquires much emotion or depth, but thanks in large part to leads Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Maia Mitchell and, adding instant credibility, David Thewlis, there’s some playful entertainment to be found.” – The Hollywood Reporter


“The eternally baby-faced Thomas Brodie-Sangster is such an endearing lead, and the script gives him so much to work with as an underdog you want to root for…

“The twists and turns that the story takes keep everyone on edge, delivering satisfying episodes each step of the way. The Artful Dodger is a must-watch for anyone who loves Dickens, historical dramas, and has a stomach for the woefully horrific surgical practices of yesteryear.” – Collider


“Brodie-Sangster is much too restrained and posh-sounding for Dodge. Yes, the series reimagines Dodge as a reformed gentleman, but there’s nary a glimmer of mischief—or even the occasional hint of a Cockney accent—poking through his polished façade.

“In departing from most of the usual hallmarks of the Dickensian world—from its vividly atmospheric descriptions of London to its host of complex personalities—all The Artful Dodger offers is flimsy comedy, half-baked characterizations, and a dubious romantic subplot.” – Slant


“Though The Artful Dodger is more pulpy than intellectual, there are touches of depth in its exploration of classism, patriarchy, colonialism, and medical advancement. (Dickens would be proud.)

“And while the plotting is a little all over the place, the central characters are sharply written and the chemistry between the leads fantastic, particularly as a romance starts to blossom between Belle and Dodger. Whatever your preferred flavor of period piece TV, The Artful Dodger likely has something that will have you asking for more.” – The Daily Beast


“A sharp, enjoyable Oliver Twist spinoff … So what do we have here: a compelling setting, characters we can root for, ever-heightening stakes, and rich dialogue? Sounds good so far.

“The one potential downside is that the whole Dickens connection can feel a bit superimposed sometimes, as if the creators had an idea for a series about a surgeon in gold-rush era Australia forced to return to his pickpocketing past, then worked in a connection to some recognizable IP. However, this is pretty easily forgiven. If that got it made, then good.” – The AV Club


The BBC’s popular children’s series Dodger is also back this Christmas, with Nicola Coughlan from Bridgerton and Derry Girls guest starring as Queen Victoria in a new festive special.

Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist is available on Amazon.