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The Pallisers

By Tara Chace

What would you get if you combined the BBC, six Victorian novels, and a cheesy Super70s soap opera? Well, this! The Pallisers is as lavish in its aristocratic intrigues (political scandal and opportunity, lecherous dukes, palatial country houses, a world where everyone knows their place) as it is in its soap opera aesthetic (characters' tumultuous struggles for power, money, love). This made-for-television production is a strange blend of exquisite costuming, remarkable sets, and surprisingly good acting on the one hand and video-quality production and an utterly melodramatic script on the other. Definitely pleasurable viewing for all who enjoy watching the period passion, pomp, and politics of upper-class Victorians.

Set 1 contains the first 8 episodes of the BBC's 26-episode serialization of Anthony Trollope's Palliser novels (1865-1880), introducing Plantagenet Palliser and Lady Glencora, whose politically expedient marriage sets the stage for the rest of the Palliser dynasty's saga. The DVD's special features include a 36-page viewer's guide, an interview with Susan Hampshire (Lady Glencora), and information on Anthony Trollope, his fiction, and the Trollope Society.

Set 2 contains episodes 9 through 17 of the BBC's 26-episode serialization of Anthony Trollope's Palliser novels (1865-1880), following Plantagenet Palliser and Lady Glencora's rise to an even higher social echelon and the challenges that their growing family must face. These episodes emphasize two family intimates--the ambitious and attractive Phineas Finn, who divides his energies between politics and romance, and Lizzie Eustace, the comely young widow with diamond troubles. The splendid cast includes Derek Jacobi as the lovelorn Lord Fawn and Penelope Keith as his overbearing sibling. The DVD's special features include a new interview with Susan Hampshire (Lady Glencora) and cast filmographies.

In the last nine episodes, the principled but headstrong Phineas Finn faces murder charges, the ruthlessly ambitious Ferdinand Lopez wrecks havoc in Parliament and parlors and the next generation of Pallisers comes of age in a rapidly changing world. But the enduring marriage of Plantagenet Palliser (Phillip Latham) and Lady Glencora (Emmy Award-winner Susan Hampshire) - tested yet again by public and private crises - touchingly proves its mettle. Also starring Jeremy Irons (Damage), Anthony Andrews (Brideshead Revisited) and Kate Nichols (Nicholas Nickleby).

 

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TV TIDBITS

Aired: 1974-1976

Cast: Philip Latham, Susan Hampshire, Basil Dignam,

Network: BBC/PBS

Genre: Drama

Theme song

Image courtesy of BBC/PBS


   
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