A bold engaging miniseries from the BBC "She?s got people talking!" That's what everyone says about Ros Pritchard, the successful supermarket manager and mother who ignites a political firestorm when she stands for Parliam... more »ent and ends up winning the general election. Running on little more than charm, honesty, and common sense, Ros knows next to nothing about politics. Will her passion and determination be enough to guide her as Prime Minister? Jane Horrocks (Little Voice, Absolutely Fabulous) delivers a warm, winning performance as an ordinary woman who goes to extraordinary lengths to bring politics back to the people. She relocates Parliament to make it more accessible to the masses. She introduces "No Cars Wednesday" to tackle global warming. At the same time, she juggles the needs and demands of her increasingly frustrated family, which she fears is slipping away from her. With humor and charm, The Amazing Mrs Pritchard takes a bold unflinching look at the modern political process -- and the toll it takes on our leaders and their loved ones. Contains coarse language« less
"Viewing this six-hour UK miniseries was an unusual experience. I expected the show to be a comedy - after all, it's premise of an ordinary middle-class woman becoming Prime Minister easily lends itself to lighthearted laughs. This isn't the case. While humor is definitely a strong element throughout, the show is very much a serious drama. The six episodes are very good - densely packed with multiple interlocking storylines, each episode moving along at a brisk pace. The acting is uniformly excellent as well. Based on those strengths, I'm tempted to rate the show higher - but there is a problem: it ends with a never-to-be-resolved cliffhanger.
Apparently the show did not perform well in the ratings when it aired last year in the UK. As a result, it seems the show is not returning for a second season. There are a couple of screens containing brief text in an attempt to tie up the most important aspects of the story. These, of course, can't be discussed without revealing too much of the story. But suffice it to say, this is a highly unsatisfactory ending to an otherwise involving TV show. Too many questions are left unanswered - it's literally only half the story.
The main storyline concerns the title character and her unlikely career change from grocery store manager to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Her decision to run for such an esteemed position stemmed from her frustration with the available candidates, as well as her friends and family assuring her that she could do a better job than any of them. Surrounded by a skilled staff - all of whom she relies heavily upon - Ros Pritchard finds herself completely ovewhelmed with her immense responsibilities. Throughout the six episodes, we see her trying to adapt and adjust without compromising her most important principle: direct honesty to the people of the UK. She strives to be the people's PM to an unprecedented degree.
In addition to being politically out of her league, the show details the (mostly) negative effects her career move has on her family life. As a mother of two, Ros finds herself unable to devote nearly the same amount of time she once did to her two girls. Her marriage becomes strained as her husband finds himself more and more a bystander rather than participant in his own family life. And in a key plot development, some potentially damaging family secrets are uncovered and attempted to be dealt with.
I found all the character-based elements to be very compelling. The excellent acting by a mostly-female ensemble, achored by Jane Horrocks's Mrs. Pritchard, deserves special note. Horrocks does a good job of conveying Ros Pritchard's hesitancy at making decisions of such great importance. Jodhi May is superb as Pritchard's 'right hand woman' Miranda Lennox. Also particularly noteworthy is Carey Mulligan as Ros's college-age daughter. It's really a shame we won't be able to see any more of these characters.
As for the show's political content, I had a more mixed reaction. For one, not knowing much about the British political system I was often a little confused about who everyone was and what their function is. But the political issues that are dealt with, for the most part, are the same issues we face in the U.S. However, there is a somewhat haphazard approach to this throughout the show. Initially there is a focus on terrorist threats, which doesn't really go anywhere before switching gears to environmental issues. I'm guessing that the goal was to provide an overview of the many challenges Ros was facing, but it seemed a little less focused than it could have been.
All things considered, this was an intriguing and well-made miniseries that I would recommend cautiously recommend. The DVD offers nothing that wasn't shown on TV originally, with the exception of aforementioned brief text notes at the conclusion of episode six. It's unfortunate that the show's creative team wasn't able to discuss (via commentaries or interviews) their intent for the show beyond the initial six episodes. Perhaps they could have offered a clearer idea of the plan than the few lines that pop up on screen before the final credits roll. I couldn't help but feel cheated, even though that wasn't the intent."
British Political Fantasy
Richard Nelson | Chicago, IL | 10/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This six-hour BBC miniseries tells the story of a grocery store manager who decides, after watching two candidates for Parliament engage in fisticuffs outside her store, that she could do a better job. As luck would have it, a TV camera catches her saying so, and soon she finds herself in the middle of a whirlwind political movement. She inspires other women to run for office, and many defect from their political parties to join her. Come election day, her party wins--and she becomes prime minister. (Forgive me--I've just told you how the first hour ends.)
But all is not so simple for Ros Pritchard, the titular star of the show (played with aplomb by Jane Horrocks). Her husband does not support her choice and urges her to refuse the job, fearful that his own secrets will come to light if she takes office. And within hours of her election, she faces the first of several crises that demonstrate to her that being a world leader is tougher than it looked on TV.
Ros rises to the challenge, though, and for four of its six hours this miniseries is a delightful fantasy about how the world would be if "the great British people" got behind a leader with common-sense ideas and a desire to effect real change. Supporting players generate much of the interest, with no one's story more compelling and intriguing than that of Catherine Walker, a former Tory and now the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Catherine is the voice of wisdom and experience that Ros desperately needs, but as portrayed by the stellar Janet McTeer she is a woman with regrets that need working out, as well. Watching her work through her own issues while keeping the country running is a gripping experience.
I limit myself to four of five stars because the final hour of the series goes a bit off the rails. Without giving anything away, all I dare say is that the two days depicted in the last hour proceed as if the responsibilities of government have been temporarily suspended. And Americans, used to our tidy endings, probably won't love the way the series concludes; the text at the end, which British audiences evidently did not see when the program aired on the BBC, seems to wrap things up in a bow but actually makes the conclusion less believable.
Despite that, this is a fine series that anyone with an interest in politics will heartily enjoy. Bonus points if you're an Anglophile!"
ROS TO THE RESCUE
Gail Cooke | TX, USA | 10/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
This six-part series by Sally Wainwright reminds one a bit of the old film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - an idealistic upstart sets about changing the stale political status quo. Of course, you do have to cross the big pond as this is a British drama but the idea is much the same.
In this case, the upstart is, of course, Ros Pritchard, a super market manager who is up to her blond bob in the empty promises politicos make. Then, when two candidates start brawling in front of her market, that cuts it. She says that she could do better than they and sets about doing it, mainly as she puts it "To prove a point."
Well, she more than proves her point as she enlists a number of ardent followers, even wins over some powerful politicians, and her Purple Alliance Party is on the move. Things aren't that positive on the home front as husband, Ian, begs her not to continue. He has a few secrets he'd rather not have made public. Their two daughters, the beauteous Emily and bespectacled Georgina are a bit more compliant.
It will come as little surprise to viewers that she wins the election and as Prime Minister-elect goes about forming a new government, rewarding the strong women who have stood beside her. She is barely in office when deadly serious issues arise and she has to make decisions that she believes are totally beyond her realm. However, self-doubt doesn't stem what is evidently her inexhaustible store of ideas, and she even suggests that Parliament be moved to Bradford.
For this viewer the series peaked with Ros's election. What follows is a series of more personal problems - Emily posing for a boy's magazine, Ian's secrets coming to light, and one of Ros's cohorts having an abortion.
Jane Horrocks turns in an outstanding performance as Ros Pritchard, and she is surrounded by a fine supporting cast. The series is pleasant viewing sparked by generous pokes at Jolly Old England and its citizenry.
- Gail Cooke "
See Jane Run A Country
M | 10/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I adore Jane Horrocks, and even more now for her efforts shown here. Being in the US, we miss out on a lot of UK talent. Be it recording artists or actors, they never get the exposure they deserve. Jane is one of those talents, two-fold.
Those that don't know who Jane Horrocks is may recall her from "Absolutely Fabulous - Complete Series 1-3", but still not major exposure for her. Her most brilliant film, "Little Voice", shows her vocal talents and how she can channel Billie Holiday and Judy Garland with eerie results. I highly suggest the soundtrack, as well as Jane Horrocks - The Further Adventures of Little Voice. Fans of Robbie Williams can hear duets together on both of their cds.
With The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard, we see Jane in a different light. In a US mentality, think "Desperate Houswives" meets "The West Wing". You really don't know what to expect with this mini-series, and I watched all six hours in one sitting. There are humorous and impossible elements, but also serious current events delivered with great emotion. A very well rounded production.
We meet Mrs. Pritchard as a Manager in an over-staffed grocery store. Basically the best Boss you could ever have, and too good to be true. Unfortunately, there is so much going on in the first 30 minutes, you really have to pay attention to the thin character development. You are basically getting a taste of what's to come, but after the first half hour, the drama begins. You are then overloaded with a complete political campaign all the way to her becoming Prime Minister ... all in one episode.
We eventually get to know the characters in depth. Mrs. Pritchard knows nothing about politics, and basically ran for office to prove a point. She does not expect to get anywhere, and just wanted to ruffle some feathers. Surrounding herself with people who know what to do is the only way she gets through it. However, she ultimately wins the hearts of the country, and wins the election by a landslide. It did not come without scandal attempts at trying to bring this housewife's reputation down, but not being in politics to begin with, made it hard for them to do.
Dirt does eventually come up in the family, and some additional dirt is created by greed. But Mrs. Pritchard is always keeping it all together as best she can. It's an interesting take on women in power. Seeing her bring her fellow female friends into her cabinet is just refreshing. If anything, it makes a case that a woman should be running America at this point.
The new Prime Minister is not surrounded by all light-hearted fluff. Her first day included making decisions she will hold with her the rest of her life. Efforts to connect with other Presidential names early on, go terribly wrong. And outside attempts to bring her down persist to the point of seeing power she never knew she had. She never thought she would be where she was, never thought she could do it, and never thought about dealing with Bush.
The show is set at the time when Tony Blair was being replaced. Blair is a phone call away for anything she needs, but when she has to meet the Queen, she breaks down her reality of fear. What follows is surprising, and exciting.
I only wish it were a complete series, and not a six episode mini-series. There are great characters that are rushed and could be elaborated. But, I still give it five stars for the outstanding acting of all involved, and the superb camera work.
As far as the packaging and physical DVD aspects, it is fair at best. There are only two DVDs, so they could have simply been put in a normal 2 disc case. But there are two full size cases, and a sleeve. A sleeve with no information on cast or production. There is a sheet inside, but with nothing of valued information. The DVDs themselves do not contain any extras and offer nothing but the six episodes. With that said, the content could have been put on one disc. But, I cannot hold any of the cosmetics against the production.
BBC did a great job on a great mini-series."
"I Could Do Better Than That Lot"
takingadayoff | Las Vegas, Nevada | 09/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen this series advertised as a comedy, as a drama, and as a comedy drama. I'd call it a political thriller, striving to be like House of Cards or the Politician's Wife. Reminiscent of The Candidate and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, supermarket manager Ros Pritchard enters the election as a long-shot candidate. She doesn't expect to win, she's just fed up with the usual lot of candidates. Oddly enough, voters flock to support her in droves and the owner of the supermarket chain donates ten million pounds to her campaign. What a lucky break! Eight weeks later she's won the election, and not only did she win a seat in Parliament, since her newly established Purple Party won a majority nationwide, she's the Prime Minister.
The men in The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard are a spineless bunch. Her husband tells her to drop out of the election before it's too late, the other candidates resort to feeble fist fights, even the policeman who climbs the tower to save Ros's suicidal male employee ends up having a heart attack. Can't men do anything without Ros?
It was at this point that I nearly gave up on the series. But then the action moves to Downing Street and becomes more political. Ros and her new cabinet (all women) have to deal with crises from the start. Ros panics and has self-doubts, but deals with one emergency after another. She has a conversation with the U.S. president where she tells him to get stuffed. (Is this a requirement for British filmmakers now? I hate George Bush as much as the next person, but I've seen that scene in enough movies now that it seems a bit too calculated.)
Now the series really gets going. Ros has to learn about politics and in-fighting and power plays while dealing with one disaster after another. Meanwhile her family is having its own assortment of catastrophes. I'll admit that even after the somewhat unlikely beginning, I was completely hooked and ended up watching the entire series in two nights. Maybe I've seen Jane Horrocks (Ros Pritchard) in too many ridiculous outfits in Absolutely Fabulous, but I didn't find her entirely convincing as the Prime Minister. The rest of the cast was just perfect, though. Janet McTeer and Jodhi May were standouts, but the rest of the cast was great, too.
The ending seemed a bit pasted on, and I later read that when the series was broadcast in England, it was without the explanatory titles at the end. Either way, it will have you thinking and talking about Ros's decision and the consequences.
So is this a recommendation? Yes! Even if you have a few problems with it, like I did, it will keep you glued to the set to the very end."