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"The Onedin Line"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"The Onedin Line" More at IMDbPro »

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27 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Exciting Sunday evening TV

Author: rick-229 from UK
10 December 2000

This series was immensely popular in Britain during the 1970's. Its combination of boardroom antics and exciting seafaring action had Sunday evening audiences hooked. Containing some excellent location work and a memorable musical score, this was costume drama at its best.

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20 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

A "Must See" for history buffs

Author: Bruce Corneil from Melbourne, Australia
9 September 2003

I've always been of the opinion that the 1960s and 70s was the golden era of English cinema and television.

"The Onedin Line" was an all class act. There was nothing slip-shod about this fine production. Being a keen history buff, it was always high on my list of viewing options. Indeed, the show enjoyed considerable popularity here in Australia because it regularly featured Australian references in its story lines.

The choice of Peter Gilmore in the title role of James Onedin could only be described as ínspired.

Some aspects of this series are probably a bit dated now but I recently watched a few episodes for the first time in many years and got a lot of pleasure out of seeing it again.

A must see for lovers of history.

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19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful Hidden Gem

Author: tulip33 from Fort Smith, AR
31 May 2006

I just discovered The Onedin Line,I ordered both DVD sets.I was totally hooked through each episode.The casting was perfect,and the acting was great.When I got to last episode I wanted to see more.I was delighted to see it ran for eight season.I was then very let down to find out the rest of the show is not available in the United States.I can only hope the rest of the series will be available in the future.I would definitely purchase the complete series if it were released.I would have rated this series a 10 if the picture quality was improved.The picture quality isn't too bad considering it was made in the early 70's.Anyone who loves British TV,history,and sea/ship dramas will not want to miss this.

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19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Warning on the DVDs

Author: D J Rout from Melbourne, Australia
12 February 2005

Grand music, real drama, tall ships and Jessica Benton, how can you go wrong?

One way is to cram all the episodes together so that each DVD forms some kind of four hour movie version of 'The Onedin Line'. This means that the writing talent that went into giving us some dramatic flow in an hour show is completely crapped on. At odd points during your viewing, provided you've got four hours spare to do that, you'll suddenly get a bit of the Adagio from 'Spartacus' dropped on you like a piece of musical jetsam. And with only your memory to guide you as to where each episode ends, you end up with a very up and down experience and not what TV drama is all about.

I for one would've been keen to see the names of the actors in each episode, too, as I'm sure they would be keen for me to know who they were. Alas, even that is lost to us in some harebrained attempt to turn this magnificent production into something even David Lean could find a trifle lengthy and vicissitudes.

We can only hope the BBC doesn't try this again with the second series.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Pitch perfect script & acting make this ageing serial a true joy

Author: HillstreetBunz from London, England.
27 August 2010

I watched the series in the 70s,...Sunday evenings around the TV with my Mum an Dad and my sister. I enjoyed it then. Now I am watching the whole thing all over again in the afternoons. Its not just a bit of nostalgia, its absolutely marvellous. Production values may seem low at first compared to today's blockbuster serials, but the sharply drawn characters are brought to riveting life by a first class cast (special mentions to Peter Gilmore, Jessica Benton and Anne Stallybrass as James, Elizabeth and Anne Onedin respectively). Proof (as if it were needed) that script and cast can overcome any weaknesses or paucity of cash elsewhere in a production. One noticeable aspect is how fully rounded the women characters are, how equal in every way to the male characters. That this is immediately apparent is a sad reflection on the way women's roles have retreated in the last decade or so. Maybe 70s feminism had something to do with it. But these women are not all about shoe shopping and chocolate! As an adult I really see the nuances of the story telling, and the richness of characterisation, historical context etc, Fantastic.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Pure nostalgia, and a good show still

Author: Catharina_Sweden from Sweden
6 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I watched all episodes of "The Onedin Line" with my parents when I was a girl. When it started, I was only seven. It made a very strong impression on me then. So strong, that I can still remember many of the scenes after 40 years! It is an odd feeling to watch it again now, alone in front of the computer, after so many years. It is a pure nostalgia trip! At the moment, I have watched the first season and half of the second.

I must say, that I am not WHOLLY as impressed as I was as a child - which is nothing odd, of course. Because now I have watched so many other TV series and movies throughout the years, and have much more to compare with. I find it "simpler" now. I do not think the series is so well-planned and well-rounded as I thought then. For example: some story lines and new characters are obviously just thrown in for trial, and when the audience has not liked them they have removed them again.

One example of this is Anne Onedin's former suitor, who was never mentioned before he suddenly turned up. This was a little stupid, as the whole issue with Anne's and James' marriage was that it was a marriage of convenience. That no one else had wanted to marry Anne, and that she was beginning to become an old spinster, when James married her for her father's ship.

There are also many things that are too obvious in a story about a sailing ship - they just "have" to be in each and every novel, movie, series on the subject (castaways, stowaways, coffin ships, mystic cargoes, strange storms and strange calms...).

And other things are a bit immature. For example all these young and very beautiful, mystical and immensely rich women with exotic names (such as "Indigo"), big breasts and generous cleavages, that just happen to get in James Onedin's and Captain Baines' way everywhere in the world... This is more like adolescent fantasies that would fit in an adventure series for teenage boys, than suitable in a series intended for an adult audience.

Another thing that I was not aware of 35-40 years ago, is that this is so obviously a studio production. Sometimes it becomes embarrassingly obvious that the background is just a painted backdrop... Or that the actors are not on a ship at all, but just standing behind a wheel in a studio. It becomes more like theatre then - as viewers we have to take part in the pretending! But it is still a very good show! As a period drama - Victorian England - it is just perfect still. I like the insights into both the seamen's lives, and the boardroom decisions, and the fine ladies' saloons, and the poor people's struggle. I like all the wonderful clothes, from a time when men were allowed to be men, and women women...

I also like that there are story lines more for women in it, despite of the main subject of the shipping business. Such as relations, love, jealousy, the fear of becoming a spinster or childless, marriage, divorce and the problems of fending for yourself without a husband, adultery, pregnancies, child-birth, babies, motherhood... These issues have been more or less the same for women in all cultures and all ages, and they are forever interesting! :-)

I also like most of the actors very much. The main actors are all so good in their parts, that it is seems impossible that the parts could have been played by someone else. Especially I like Peter Gilmore. This was also something that I did not, of course, notice when I was seven: how very handsome and virile and desirable he is. It shines through the computer screen..! :-)


October 21, 2012

I have now watched through all the eight series, and I have to add a few words. I think the last season was so bad, that I wish it had never been made (and ideally not the last but one either). The events became too "grande" - I suppose the producers believed it would kindle new interest to have James involved in revolutions and royal affairs in foreign countries. But instead it made the show only into a boys' adventure story - especially as the cabin boy Tom got much too great a part in a production for adults. The original idea, with a man starting from nothing and building up a shipping line, was exciting enough - at the same time as it was still probable!

The story with the stolen neck-lace was like something out of a cheap detective story from a magazine... James' new wife - a young South American woman - was completely wrong for him... James Onedin's daughter could never in reality have been a music-hall artist, as these were looked upon almost as whores at this time... And the new set of sisters-in-law for the "ladies' world" of the series, was too much to get used to in such a short time. But worst of all was the fact, that the characters we had come to love and like, suddenly behaved completely out of character.

Now I am going to try to forget about series 8, and instead let James Onedin, Captain Baines, Anne, Elizabeth, and Captain Fogarty stay in my heart for ever. Where they have in fact been for 40 years already..! :-)

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

an interesting (if sometimes flawed) series

Author: brtor222 from Canada
2 November 2012

I have finally been able (thanks to a generous poster on YouTube) to watch all 91 episodes of this series, having given up waiting for them all to be released on DVD in Region1. I know that a company called BFS Video released the first 8 episodes on DVD, but that was it. I emailed them to ask why they didn't release the rest, but did not get a reply.

I vaguely recall seeing a few episodes of this series on TV in the 1970's as a kid. I don't know if it was on PBS at the time, because I think there were commercials cut into the programs.

But at long last to be able to see every episode has been a treat. I found the earlier seasons the best and more interesting, but as it wore on to the later seasons, the flaws began to appear. Certain characters (who either got tired of their roles) were written out (or killed off) from the series too hastily and never appeared again. That is the writers fault and leaves unfortunate gap explanations.

But the attention to detail in terms of production design, costumes, and the ship scenes are standard quality for BBC programs during this period. As usual with these British productions during the 70's, they interweave (through editing) studio set videotaped scenes with outdoor filmed sequences, which is a bit annoying at times. Some gaffes here and there with continuity in terms of the characters clothing not matching in some of these spliced-together scenes.

Kudos go to Peter Gilmore who appears in all 91 programs and has to carry the whole series. He did an excellent job. Also to Anne Stallybrass, Howard Lang, Jessica Benton and Mary Webster. The Onedin offspring were not great actors, and I don't recognize them having appeared in subsequent BBC productions.

91 episodes is quite long and probably would never happen today. I used to think the original Upstairs,Downstairs was quite long at 63 parts or Poldark, until this one.

I recommend this series highly especially as I said, the earlier seasons.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful stories of a bygone era

Author: spamobile from Chile, on the way to the Falklands
28 November 2011

I watched this series as a youngster and loved them all, glued to the, black and white TV and later, wow, in color (don't be mistaken all is in color, it just took long for we had a color TV). Now having bought all the series as soon as they came out I watched them all again. And, again. They are just wonderful stories, all 8 seasons long. Characters develop, are somewhat predictable, but highly entertaining. It was all made with low budgets and of course that shows. You will catch inaccuracies like for instance way to big master cabins on small ships, ships that are pictured trying to make you believe the 2nd ship is different but look carefully, it's not, it's the same ship, storms, well, storms are mere light breezes, and so on. Mostly studio indoors acting. But all of that does not matter really. I depicts a life from an era most people can't imagine how life was. Rich got richer, poor stayed poor. Nice costumes, entertaining events. So very British, so very BBC, so very 70's made. But all over a wonderful tribute to life at sea, life of those staying behind, struggling ship owners, cheating ship owners. A period drama like no other. Look at it, it lasted all of 8 seasons and it really ends in season 8, a real end, not just a series that was stopped making without an end. I would highly recommend it, but you have to like period drama's, not mind the inaccuracies and low budgets, and if you don't mind all of that you will be entertained.

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