C+ Sound: B- Extras: C Episodes: B
though it looks like it is strictly designed to appeal to a female audience,
this 1999 TV adaptation of Rosamunde Pilcher’s Nancherrow is much better than expected. It is not a formula piece, though the
obsession with the title location, a coveted family home, sounds like something
we have heard before. Add the scarcity
of food and it sounds like it could be a British Gone with the Wind, but the year is 1947 and World War II is over.
in question belongs to the Carey-Lewis family, and when the patriarch passes
on, young Loveday (Katie Ryder Richardson) wants to immediately move in. There are many obstacles in her way,
including slow-moving paperwork, an unhappy marriage, the expense of keeping
the place, and the condition of the building itself. What would seem predictable and obvious
surprisingly does not run that way.
Thank teleplay writer John Goldsmith for not sticking to formula, or
watering down what was obviously a good book.
sign this would be good is Joanna Lumley.
The former Purdey on The New
Avengers, Peter Bogdanovich’s The
Cat’s Meow (both reviewed elsewhere on this site), Sapphire & Steel, John Schlesinger’s Cold Comfort Farm, and recent hit Absolutely Fabulous tends to be exceptionally good at picking the
material she does. This gave me a new
respect for her judgment. Avengers patriarch Patrick Macnee (as
Lord Awliscombe) also makes a very welcome appearance among an exceptionally cast
thing that generally does not work is the newsreel parts with voiceover that
does not sound sonically or verbally. Otherwise,
this is the kind of top-rate quality TV that also does not bore its audience to
death. You land up caring for the
characters and what happens to them.
Then, when Lumley and Macnee are together for the first time in twenty
years since The New Avengers, you
can see the chemistry has not dulled one bit.
When Macnee talks about how the world has changed since the end of the
war, the character refers to WWII, but it holds all to true for when John Steed
and Purdey were fighting The Cold War on their former show. 9/11 has made the statement even truer.
frame image mixes monochrome newsreel footage as markers in between the new
full color footage shot so nicely by Simon Kossoff, A.S.C., that it even looks
good in the slightly hazy transfer. The
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has nice Pro Logic surrounds that increase the impact
of the presentation overall. The
text-only extras include nice interview segments with various cast members,
cast/crew bio/filmographies, and the Carey-Lewis family tree, all of which
enhance the program.
of that great intertextual moment, the two-part show holds up on its own very
well. Director Simon Langton deserves
kudos for making this work so well and pulling everything together. Nancherrow
is a winner.
- Nicholas Sheffo