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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Mini-Series > British TV > Edward & Mrs. Simpson (1978)

Edward & Mrs. Simpson (1978/A&E)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Episodes: B-



The famous 1978 British TV Mini-Series version of the scandalous affair between Edward & Mrs. Simpson is finally on DVD from A&E.  The Thames production offered Edward Fox as the British King who has a mistress and eventually decides to step down from his throne just to be with the woman (Cynthia Harris) he loves.  Too bad she is not as faithful as he thought.


Simon Raven’s teleplay is split into the following seven hour-long episodes:


1)     The Little Prince

2)     Venus At The Prow

3)     The New King

4)     The Divorce

5)     The Decision

6)     Proposals

7)     [withheld as it is a spoiler]



The story is also about how, in order to have Mrs. Simpson legitimized, Edward keeps struggling with making the right decisions about his life, future and the only life he has ever know.  Should he “put his kingdom up for sale” as it were to be with the woman he loves?  .  Little does he realize how he is being used, but it is one of many things that happen in his life that becomes too late to change or do anything about.  This is exceptionally cast, including famous actors like Peggy Ashcroft, Patrick Troughton and Nigel Hawthorne in key roles, but the production feels a bit dated from the time of its first broadcast over a quarter-century ago.  The romance tends to push world events in the background, maybe too much, while there has always been an odd, choppy feel to this material.  Even from watching it in its initial broadcasts, it feels like this could have gone on a few more chapters.  It is still a British TV original and has been remade since, so its place in TV history is assured.  If you have not seen it, it is a must-see at least once and being introduced to it with such a quality set can only be a plus.


The 1.33 X 1 full screen image was shot in the analog PAL format, and the quality once again is great for its time.  After looking at a few of these Thames productions on DVD, it is obvious that Fremantle Media and A&E are coordinating as high a quality of product as possible, while the Thames catalog has been properly taken care of.  That is great news for fans of great television and all these classics.  The original monophonic sound has once again been boosted to a simple stereo that A&E has been doing right for years and clarifies the sound so nicely.  Thus, the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has solid playback as a result and is at the usual 384 kilobits-per-second A&E has their sound at, which is higher than the rest of the industry.  The theme and music by Ron Grainer is not bad, but not my favorite work of his, however appropriate to the story.  The theme never stayed with me, then or now.  The only extra is an ace of a program on Wallis Simpson from A&E’s landmark Biography series, but you should only watch this after seeing the shows.  That is why it is on the second of two DVDs in the set when the series ends.  Edward & Mrs. Simpson is a classic true story that will continue to fascinate, even as the current royal family offers new shocking incidents and actions as this review posts.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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