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tight and compact "Moonstone" a prime showcase for Wise and Hawes,
This review is from: The Moonstone (DVD)
Originally broadcast by the BBC over the Christmas period in 1996, THE MOONSTONE is based on the classic Wilkie Collins novel, regarded as one of the first great detective stories. Although this 2-part TV version cuts out many pertinent events from the original novel, it moves at a cracking pace and is quite entertaining when taken in the right spirit.
The "moonstone" in question is a priceless gem, stolen from a sacred Hindu temple by Sir John Herncastle (Terrence Hardiman), the black sheep of the Verinder family. When he attempts to visit his niece Rachel (Keeley Hawes) on her birthday, he is politely turned away, but vows to never forget the girl or the present he has set aside for her. On Rachel's 18th birthday, Franklin Blake (Greg Wise) finally presents Rachel with the gift from now-dead Herncastle - the moonstone gem. During the ensuing night, however, the stone mysteriously disappears from Rachel's bedroom. Franklin calls in London's esteemed Sergeant Cuff (Antony Sher), but he runs into nothing but roadblocks, culminating in Rachel, bewildered and angry, running back to London despite the protestations of Franklin, Cuff and her mother Lady Julia (Patricia Hodge).
A year passes, in which time Franklin has been completely estranged from Rachel, and the case, frustratingly, unsolved. But a trail of new clues will soon emerge into the light, leading Franklin, Rachel and Cuff to the real culprit... but will they be too late to reclaim the moonstone?
Despite it's shortcomings, this MOONSTONE is quite enjoyable, and a lot of the credit must go to the cast. Greg Wise ("Madame Bovary", "Cranford") and Keeley Hawes ("Wives and Daughters", "Tipping the Velvet") pair beautifully as Franklin and Rachel, and their scenes together are a delight. Patricia Hodge adds a great deal of wry, pithy humour to Lady Julia, and Antony Sher is fantastic as the inspector. The Verinder house is stocked with suspects including disturbed chamber maid Rosanna (Lesley Sharp) and her companion "Limping Lucy" (Elizabeth Berrington).
There is an earlier BBC miniseries from 1972 which I hope to see and compare soon, but in the meantime I can heartily recommend this 1996 production.