6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
NEW re-manufactured IMPROVED collection reviewed,
This review is from: THE BRETTS: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION (DVD)
This review is not a carry-forward from an old DVD set. For one thing, SUBTITLES are added. This is an excellent 1927-1931 period drama that involves a London theatre family. The sets, costumes, and props are true to the times, such delight. It is frothy with scandal as well as the ups & downs of acting careers, primarily the members of the Brett family. The lives of the family and their help are as addicting as "Upstairs Downstairs". The interplay with the downstairs Brett staff with the family is a mirror of "U,D". Surely that has something to do with the fact that one writer wrote for both series. The final episode leaves the viewer grieving over the discontinuation of episodes, like a death, the sign of a good DVD set.
The only downside I found was a bit of overacting by the male lead Charles (Norman Rodway) who appears older than 55. On the other hand, an aspect I enjoyed was cases where special effects (i.e. fog), excessive make-up, obviously painted backdrops, and those overacting bits helped keep the entire series in the ambiance of the late 20's theatre. Scenes may be showing the actors in their plays or talkies, other times it is in their dining, bed, or living rooms, it all works to make this a Roaring 20's atmosphere. I could not help but think of another spectacular series of the period, "House of Elliott". Costuming is spot on.
You will not only enjoy the dramatic lives of star performers, but also the home-life, even bickering and rivalry between the all-acting kin. Lydia (Barbara Murray-Pallisers) is matriarch. Brett siblings: Martha (Belinda Lang-2.4 Children); her twin Edwin (David Yelland-David Copperfield); Thomas (George Winter-Merlin); Perdita (Sally Cookson); & married Nell Caldwell (Victoria Burton-Gems).
Nightengale Grove (Brett's home) Staff: butler Sutton (Tim Wylton-As Time Goes By; A Bit of a Do); maid Emily (Rebecca Lacey-Casualty); cook Flora (Rhoda Lewis-Lorna Doone); driver Hagarty (Billy Boyle-EastEnders).
Plus plenty of known Brit stars filling other roles.
19 SUBTITLED episodes, as short as possible, for those wishing detail synopsis:
1 THE KING SHALL NOT DIE; 1927 Overdue bills, Charles hires gal (Shirley Cassedy) causing Lydia to talk divorce. Charles rents theatre & play struggles.
2 DRIVING AMBITION; Motorcar bought and then maybe the Princess Theatre.
3 VAGABONDS AND THIEVES; Playwright Thomas a success, his next in the Princess? Charles suggests rewrite with himself cast, then it gets shocking.
4 FULL HOUSE; Charles' parents arrive. George (Frank Middlemass-Poldark; As Time Goes By) is dad. Thomas leaves unhappy. Martha has a lover.
5 MOVING PICTURES; Eddie goes silent film, appalling till Chas screen tests. Butler Sutton also gets an offer.
6 BROADWAY, HERE I COME; Songwriter flirts with Lydia, pursues Martha. Tax crisis. Ruffled family feathers.
7 REVENGE IS SWEET; Eddie accosts a play critic & backlash hits the whole Brett clan.
8 GET ME TO THE CHURCH ON TIME; 1928 Martha's arrest followed by Edwin's befriending Lady Diana (Christine Kavanagh-Doctors). Sutton has love ails. Martha gets an American offer-of sorts.
9 THE ACTRESS AND THE BISHOP; Martha's injured. Jean resigns. Chas in court over a Bishop/actress play.
10 FORBIDDEN FRUIT; a intricate romance for each Brett sibling + Sutton.
11 FORBIDDEN FRUIT: PT 2; Martha grieving, turns to Rx. Eddie adds 3rd lady to romance (bad) making Sutton envious.
12 ALL RIGHT ON THE NIGHT; Is Chas having an affair just prior to his 35th wedding anniversary? Lydia suspects, family/staff confused. Denis Quilley is Guy Vere, Ann Bell (Jane Eyre) his wife.
13 GRAND FINALE; P. Theatre burns. Can Christmas pantomime save finances? Jane Downs as Elsie Carstairs.
14 HOME AND AWAY: PT 1; May 1931 Edwin's place, S. France. Brett family has holiday, except for one who makes fun use of an empty London home. Mark Kingston as Sir James for next 3 episodes.
15 HOME AND AWAY: PT 2; Should Princess Theatre sell after a Brett heart incident? New cook better received than Eddie's off-screen antics.
16 A HOUSE DIVIDED; Hagerty's nephew witnessed murder-is he next? Martha (brief rape nudity) & Chas have their own attacks. Oliver Cotton (Beowulf) as Edvardo.
17 THE LUCK OF THE IRISH; Nephew hides from IRA. Martha & Thomas have interesting prospects that clash. Romeo meets Juliet. Hugh Frazer (Poirot) is Oliver in last 4 episodes.
18 I'VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN; Sutton accepts tragedy blame. Talkies vs theatre still divides the family. Marion Bailey (Persuasion 2007) as Agnes, just one of Eddie's ladies.
19 THE GOLDEN DUSTMAN; Eddie/L. Diana affair. True love, financial affairs, films and theatre move forward with a brisk Brett pace. Julie Hills as Dulcie. Patrick Ryecart (Nancherro, Coming Home, King's Speech) as dir Barron.
This NEW version of The Bretts: The Complete Collection is worth the investment in entertainment period drama. Over 16 hours. Any actor, drama student, or person who has worked backstage in pro or amateur theatre will enjoy this novel interpretation.