Puts the "Masterpiece" into Masterpiece Theatre
celticsfan34 | california | 09/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the best "Masterpiece Theatre" series in the 1980s - I can't wait to see it again. Following John Mortimer's novel closely, the plot revolves around a purplexing mystery: why has a saintly and steadfastly liberal vicar left his sizeable fortune to villainous Thatcherite cabinet minister Leslie Titmuss? All is revealed in as the series travels back several decades examining the tangled relationships between the middle class families of the Rapstone Valley and the working classes of Skurfield. The central mystery ultimately serves to illuminate how Britain has changed from the post-war period to the 1980s England of Margaret Thatcher.
The sequel "Titmuss Regained" is less sweeping but also bitterly amusing as cabinet minister Titmuss takes a bizarre detour from his political ambitions to attempt personal happiness and romantic love. Titmuss is an astounding fictional creation - Mortimer wrote a third "Titmuss" novel, "The Sound of Trumpets" - maybe someday the BBC will dramatize the last chapter in the life of this somehow loveable villain."
FAMILY, POLITICS, ROMANCE, AND A VILLAGE ALL GO HEAD-TO-HEAD
Harold Wolf | Wells, IN United States | 09/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This set contains not only an 11-episode saga (Masterpiece Theatre) but a 3-part sequel to the dramatic story (mystery) of the last will of Rev. Simon Henry Simcox (Michael Hordern), who died at age 82, on February 21, 1985. His financial legacy is left completely to a family outsider, MP Leslie Titmuss (David Threlfall), a politician, one of those Simon marched and opposed through decades of preaching, speaking, and protesting. Why? Why not even providing for his life-long partner, his wife? How could he ignore his sons, and even a grandchild?
Immediately the series begins transitioning to former days in the lives of the family and those connected to the family. Is there a puzzling secret in the Rectory that needs exposed? Sons, Henry (Peter Egan,) and Fred (Paul Shelley) question Titmuss receiving the family fortune, especially for the sake of their mother, Dorothy (Annette Crosbie) left near penniless. Was he insane?
The search for clues to the will's purpose reveals a past as far back as WWII with characters including Agnes Salter (Eleanor David) daughter of family Dr. Salter (Colin Blakely), Charlotte 'Charlie' Fanner (Zoe Wanamaker) daughter of Sir Nicholas (Richard Vernon) and Lady Grace (Jill Bennett). And a whole Rapstone Village of others including Titmuss's lower-class parents.
This "Masterpiece" was written by lawyer/author John Mortimer who died Jan. 16, 2009, after being not only successful with this series but also writer of the 15-year TV series (1978 beginning) of "Rumpole of the Bailey". What a tribute to release this series+sequel DVD set so soon after the masterful author's death.
It represents more TOP QUALITY British drama, masterfully reproduced from the original airings in 1986 and 1991. You'll come away caring deeply, like family, for some characters, and loathe others.
The box indicates some modification for home video was made due to music rights, but fear not, this 738 minutes is worthy of a watch, and re-watch. You still hear some good music, jazz and rock. That's the reason for the 3-episode sequel. Fans love it. Couldn't get enough.
Details for those interested: (CAREFUL; could be a spoiler or two for some, clarification for others. Some following 'potential' spoiler-info is actually revealed on the DVD packaging. Some not. Feel free to skip to the last paragraph safely.)
Episode 1-Death of a Saint-Simeon Simcox has his funeral. Agnes Salter, daughter of Simeon's doctor and friend, steps out with Fred, youngest son of Simcox. Charlie Tanner (female) dances with Leslie Titmuss (male). Titmuss was bequested through Rev Simcox's will, all the brewery stock, the family wealth, but why?
2-The Temptation of Henry Simcox-Fred & Anges find a use for Tom Nowt's (a poacher) cabin, tsk-tsk. Then she's late. Abortion? Henry finds another, older will. Leslie makes a move on Charlie as well as the Conservative party. Fred's studying medicine and in a jazz band, but will he provide 100 pounds in 1-pound notes needed for an abortion?
3-Chez Titmuss-Charlie and Leslie cause alarm in two families as they toss about a wedding idea. A 'class' issue.
4-Living in the Past-Mom gets word that Agnes & Henry married in America. Fred continues a close relationship with Dr. Salter and is at his house when Agnes arrives alone and pregnant. 3 years after leaving Fred behind. Mrs Simcox moves into a small house left her by Dr. Salter. Leslie Titmuss confesses to his in-laws that Charlie wanted was not pregnant at their marriage. Leslie and Lady Fanner have improved relations as does Henry and Fred. What is there to discover about Tom Nowt?
5-The Wrongs of Man-Poacher Tom may have been poached. L. Titmouse buys Old Tom's hut without Charlie's knowledge. What desire did she have that was lost? Dr. Salter takes on Fred as a medical partner.
6-The Lost Leader-Titmuss begins his private maneuvering toward the Conservative party parliamentary candidacy. His wife, Charlie, poses a problem having aligned herself with young hippie friends.
7-And a Happy New year to You, Too!-A flashback to "THAT CHRISTMAS". Plenty of
Ebenezer Scrooge spirit throughout the Simcox and Titmuss families. Agnes overhears Henry on the telephone with Lonnie--not a bit of joy. Oops! Meanwhile Fred sleeps the chills off Mrs. Wickstead. Charlie has another scream attack. New year's is scant jollier.
8-Enigma Variations-Fred happens upon "MR." Wickstead in a lawn party. Oops! Henry, living now with Lonnie, yet pushes a lawyer to get the Rector's will, giving all to Titmuss, disqualified by claiming this father's madness.
9-The Gods of the Copy Book Headings-Sir Nicolas dies from hunting in the rain. Lonnie is now a Simcox. Titmuss creates a marriage riff by insisting his son go to a prestigious public school. Charlie is blackmailed. Fred finds his mom collecting kindling in the woods and begins asking "Is Titmuss related?" Why did he get the money?
10-Faith Unfaithful-Life for Titmuss takes on huge changes. Tom Nowt and his cottage comes into question as the will's purpose looks toward a court encounter. Does the will prove Rev. Simcox's insanity or the result of a long held secret?
11-The Simcox Inheritance-Fred finally obtains a small piece of paper that contains the truth. Insanity? Titmuss's father has his own Rector secret that needs rectified. In the end who or what wins? Money? Family? Politics? Business? Love? Revenge?
1-Today-Just when you thought you'd had about all of Leslie Titmuss's politics, scheming, and underhanded business dealings--along comes a new and improved Titmuss. Love falls for a truly beautiful and sweet window, Jenny (Kristin Scott Thomas). Well he's almost nice when he's getting his way.
2-Tomorrow-Dr. Fred Simcox is still around and forms opposition to Titmuss and the business of turning the country side into developments. Fred's SOV (Save Our Valley) group forces the development plans into a hearing.
3-And the Next Day-Titmuss obsesses over jenny's deceased previous husband. Meanwhile office staff is working secretly to undermine Titmuss and his political prestige. In the end Titmuss proves to be as sweet as bile; Titmuss Regained.
At the end of episode 3 of "TITMUSS REGAINED" fail not to take close attention to the credits. Our greatest laugh was embedded with those final rolling credits.