The extraordinarily fertile mind of Frederic Raphael
Writer Frederic Raphael is wittier than most mortals, and more literate by half. This wonderfully varied slew of seven hour-long screenplays written by him, most of them directed by the illustrious James Cellan Jones, are therefore intriguing and original and satisfying. All of them are about relationships of various kinds, and the way people intermingle and separate, about how they repel and attract, and about honor and integrity and all that is inbetween.
The first episode, "Oxbridge Blues", stars Ian Charleson and Malcolm Stoddard as a sort of Cain and Abel set of brothers -- one brainy, one earthy -- whose lives seem to do a turn-around mid-career, leading to raving jealousies and marital stresses. This episode was BAFTA nominated, and is delicious.
"That Was Tory" is a slightly darker or slightly more twisted tale of frustrations and an unusual link between a woman who has been summarily dumped and her sort-of friend's slightly lonely husband.
"Similar Triangles" coquettishly explores the eroticism of forbidden love. "He'll See You Now" stars Susan Sarandon -- in an award-winning performance -- as a garrulous and nutty stage star, opposite her staid Jewish psychoanalyst, whose patient and quiet demeanor is in stark contrast to her volatile instability.
"The Muse" broaches the tawdry worlds of creative writing, publishing, and literary acclaim, and stars David Suchet as a self-doubting and self-limiting wannabe serious writer, stuck in a rut of churning out snide comic strips and children's books. "Cheap Day" is an odd musing on the dreams and travels and temptations of a suburban wife, caught up in indecision and complacency.
"Sleeps Six" is a meaty venture, starring Ben Kingsley, as a filmmaker whose producer and former film partner, Jeremy Child, threatens to drive him and his wife and everyone around them mad when he arrives on the scene of their vacation villa in France with enough emotional baggage to sink a ship.
My favorite episode is "Oxbridge Blues" for its charm and wit. My second favorite is "Sleeps Six," for its meaty performances and plot. All in all, this series is a testament to Raphael's wonderfully fruitful creativity and gift for plot and dialogue. Intriguing.
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