One of the most widely acclaimed drama series television has ever produced, these adaptations of short stories by A.E. Coppard and H.E. Bates present provocative and heartwarming tales set against the vast English countryside during the post-World War I period. Featuring stunning locations and star-studded casts that include Ian McKellen, Peter Firth, Pauline Collins, Rosalind Ayres and Prunella Scales, these eight lavish dramas reveal the timeless and constant qualities of the British landscape and its people.
2 DVD set includes:
Craven Arms - The Mill - The Sullens Sisters - The Watercress Girl
The Little Farm - The Black Dog - The Higgler - The Ring of Truth
Based on short stories by A.E. Coppard and H.E. Bates, this Country Matters
collection includes eight of the 50-minute episodes that helped form Masterpiece Theater's hybrid theater/television identity as go-to programming for understanding Great Britain. Country Matters
portrays mostly tragic romance, set in rural England just after the first World War. Each episode provides accurate and fascinating costume and set design to illustrate the class differences, living habits, and manners of Brits in various regions, giving viewers a deeper knowledge of the culture clash that has occurred within this tradition-bound society. "Craven Arms" stars Ian McKellen as David, a figure-drawing teacher in love with three of his beauteous students, Kate, Nancy, and Julia. Suffering from what he calls his lack of "constancy," David's inability to commit takes him nowhere except on a lonely journey. Alice in "The Mill," a 17-year-old ditched by her parents to earn her keep on a nearby farm, also suffers through lonely sexual exploration. The first disc, also including "The Sullen Sisters" about two sisters, Lindy and Rachel, feuding over Tommy, an extremely young boy, offers little in the way of cheerful love.
"The Little Farm" on disc two provides the first glimpse of short-term romantic success, as Edna Johnson (Barbara Ewing) moves onto Tom Richards' (Brian Marshall) farm, transforming his veritable pigsty with her woman's touch. "The Higgler" also hints at fleeting emotional uplift as higgler, Harvey (Keith Krinkel) is invited to befriend an educated lady, Mary (Sheila Rusgrove). Each story unravels slowly, quietly, and in dark rooms oft lit by lantern to show what life's pace used to be. While some episodes are more riveting than others, slight action is well compensated for by meticulous script and acting. Like the best in British drama, these short story adaptations rely on dialogue to enliven characters rather than showy special effects or bawdy sex. Country Matters certainly opens a window into the past, which feels like respite from today's cinematic overload. --Trinie Dalton