This is a star-laden, lavishly-produced adaptation - by Sir Tom Stoppard, no less - of the Tietjens novels of Ford Madox Ford, which were also the basis of a trio of TV plays put out on BBC-2 in the mid-60s. Sir Tom has taken a few liberties with the books in order to squeeze them into five one-hour episodes, and this first episode doesn't quite work. Things are rushed through, relationships aren't properly established, eccentricities are emphasized over character. The notion of Christopher Tietjens as a man whose elaborate code of honour must bring him pain and continuous suffering is established clearly, yet Benedict Cumberbatch, playing him, seems excessively puritanical and aloof - this Tietjens is a hard man for whom to have the requisite sympathy. Rebecca Hall enjoys herself as his monstrous wife, but Stephen Graham's Scots accent seems very strange. Adelaide Clemens, a newcomer in a starry cast, acquits herself very well as the suffragette Valentine.
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