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"Ruby in the Smoke" really has lots of potential. It certainly has set the stage for future episodes. It's a Victorian suspense story (with excellent settings and scenery)based upon the original novel. PBS does its usual good job of making this one available. Alas, it has some serious shortcomings, especially for American audiences. Understanding the fast-paced "English" dialect was quite difficult, thus taking away from not only the plot and story line, but adding some confusion as well. Perhaps it's just fine for our friends in England, but the fact that I could not understand all the dialog was a disappointment. In addition. the characters just didn't come across as fully developed; Sally oftentimes was the weepy whiny Victorian woman and at other times, leaping into the 20th century with some of her "liberations." Greater interaction between the "good" characters would enhance the story (and hold viewers' interest more). Mrs. Holland comes across truly as the wicked woman she is and is perhaps the most convincing of the entire cast. Still, there are possibilities here and I, for one, am hoping to see this story developed into a more convincing series.
Former Dr. Who companion and current Dr. Who in a lame, scattered 'mystery'. This one plays like a mystery novel in which pages have been cut out and the story jumps backward and forward all over the place with huge gaping holes in the plot. Poorly written with even worse 'direction'. In fact about the only thing to redeem this is the performance of Julie Walters, who makes a fabulous villain. But then this is a part she has done before in other films, so there is nothing new here. As for Piper and Smith, to say they give totally uninteresting performance would be being too kind. One can easily see why this disappeared after 2 episodes. There is very little to recommend it other than some nice costumes.
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