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THE BRETTS: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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(Jul 26, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

"The fine high style of Masterpiece Theatre at its frothiest" --The Wall Street Journal

"Delightfully dizzy clan of Brits" --Houston Chronicle

"Urbane and amusing" --Los Angeles Times

The Bretts have ruled the London stage since the 1880s. Patriarch Charles (Norman Rodway, Reilly: Ace of Spies) is a matinee idol and a womanizer. His wife, Lydia (Barbara Murray, The Pallisers), is a glamorous star of musical comedies. Their five children include actors and a radical playwright, and their dramatic household is further enlivened by loyal but gossipy servants.

But now it’s the late 1920s, and times are changing. As talking pictures loom and Hollywood calls, the family buys a West End theatre to manage. Hilarity, tragedy, and slapstick ensue as the battling Bretts struggle to maintain the life they have always known.

Seen on Masterpiece Theatre and co-created by Upstairs, Downstairs writer Rosemary Anne Sisson, this British series is brimming with wit and Roaring Twenties flair.


Special Features

SDH subtitles

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: July 26, 2011
  • Run Time: 975 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004WMOSMI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,212 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on June 20, 2011
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).
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Having an extensive DVD library of all things BBC offers on PBS, I was delighted to find The Bretts, which I didn't possess. It's tremendously entertaining for anyone who wishes to time travel back to the days of Britain in the 1920s when live theatre was in it's prime. The period costumes are dazzeling to say the least. The actors who play a family of stage actors in the series are all terrific and the scripts are somewhat juicy at times. It's such a shame that Masterpiece Theatre has turned off the lights and given the last performance, but luckily, I can watch The Bretts whenever I want. It's a winner.
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Who says Masterpiece Theatre is boring? One of their most entertaining series has been "The Bretts," a sparkling soap opera set in the roaring 20s. It suffers from some random plot twists (and character departures), but is entertainingly soapy fun.

Charles and Lydia Brett (Norman Rodway, Barbara Murray) were the stars of the 1890s stage, with his costume dramas and their shared romantic comedies. Now they live with three of their kids: party-girl actress Martha (Belinda Lang), not-so-successful actor Edwin (David Yelland) and blooming socialist playwright Thomas (George Winter).

The series opens rather weakly, when Charles and Lydia briefly break up over Charles hiring a sexy secretary, and his new swashbuckler almost bombs. But things stabilize as the main problems arise -- stages are being replaced with silver screens. Soon Edwin has become a hot Hollywood star, with the movie adaptation of his dad's latest play.

Charles is determined to keep the London stages from being overtaken, and refuses to have anything to do with the movies (though he's willing to vacation at Edwin's villa). But the biggest drama is BEHIND the scenes: secret pregnancies, drug addictions, scam artists, rape, murder, heart attacks, trips to decadent Berlin, lawsuits, illegitimate children, the IRA, fatal illnesses, shattered engagements, illicit affairs, and much more.

Basically, "The Bretts" is about packing as much drama as possible into a matter of episodes. And it's even more entertaining, since it's set in the sparkling era between world wars, with plenty of flappers, spangled clothing, communism, and glamorous homes in the South of France.
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