In 1939, young Oliver, Calypso, Polly and Walter visit friends and family in Cornwall. Spanish Civil War is over and WW2 has begun, so they enjoy their love life while they can. Decades later, they gather again, this time for a funereal.
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When a crusade against the Church of England's practice of self-enrichment misfires, scandal taints the cozy community of Barchester when their local church becomes the object of a scathing, investigative report.
They don't make adaptations like this any more - no doubt for cost reasons and a lack of imagination and bravery at the TV companies. 7 hours of solid drama, yet full of incidental humour and some very fine characterisations.
Unfortunately it is flawed, and the flaws make it just very good viewing rather than the excellent series it should have been. The biggest flaws to my mind are:
1 The decision to replace Nick and his wife by new actors for Film 4 was totally wrong. Nick ages far too much in too short a space of time, and looks completely different. This creates a real problem of believability.
2 Still on ageing, some of the actors are 'aged' very well, whilst others (especially the ladies and Odo) seem hardly any different as the decades progress.
3 Film 4 is by far the weakest, though to be fair this reflects the books on which it is based. Perhaps it should have been cut further and the earlier years given even greater prominence.
4 Despite a great deal of pruning, there are still too many characters and insufficient narration for non-aficionados of the books to be sure all the time of who is who.
5 The scenes often seem to be a succession of dramatic deaths - difficult to avoid with the way the story has to be condensed, but very predictable nonetheless.
However, it's still pretty good, and light years removed from much of the dumbed-down drama on TV today.
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