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Craig T. Nelson
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This is a review of the eponymous first episode of "Oxbridge Blues", the first of 7 stories by Frederic Raphael.
Oxbridge Blues is a delightful comedy which explores the theme of sibling rivalry and a touch of mid-life crises in the lives of two brothers. Victor, an Oxford-educated, upper-crust businessman (played perfectly by Ian Charleson) is married to the equally accomplished Wendy (properly played by Rosalyn Landor). Despite having all the outward trappings of success, each feels something lacking in their lives: Victor wishes he'd had more of a swinging singles life prior to marriage, and Wendy wishes for more intimacy with her husband and also wants a baby. Victor's brother, Pip (mischievously played by Malcolm Stoddard), is the self-acknowledged "lesser intelligent" of the two, yet has a zest for life, and also indulged in the above-described sexual partnering that Victor craved. Enter Maxine, Pip's fiancée and then wife (a charming performance by Amanda Redman), a likewise lesser- educated woman who admires Wendy's status in life and Victor's intelligence. Contrary to Victor and Wendy's married life, Pip and Maxine have children right away.
The crux of the story is when Pip starts writing "naughty" dime-store novels which prove to be runaway hits, so much so that a Hollywood mogul comes calling to turn the books into movies. Victor is hard pressed to be truly happy for his brother's success, subtly compounded, no doubt, by the fact that Wendy seems more attracted to the people in Pip's world. However, an unlikely camaraderie and friendship forms between Maxine and Victor, which ends up being key to their mutual happiness.
A non-commercial screener DVD is available through BBC-Thought Equity for a fee.
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