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Not even a high-def bump could make this well-meaning Geraldine McEwan miniseries look and sound all that much better than it does here...
Acorn Media / 366 Minutes / 1978 / Unrated / Street Date: February 26, 2013
Muriel Sparks’ 1961 novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a polarizing affair – it has both passionate defenders and those who outright dismiss it – but it nevertheless took the world by storm when it was released, and unsurprisingly, after successful theater and cinematic adaptations came down the pike, British TV went back in (now seventeen years after its original publication) to have another round with Sparks’ short tome.
That is what appears on this 3-Disc Acorn release of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Geraldine McEwan (who is probably tired of being recognized first and foremost as Miss Marple) takes on the titular role, and infuses the character with a sturdy, confident bravura: she’s really great in the part. Unfortunately, though, this particular translation of the novel seems woefully devoid of many of its most pertinent elements. Sure, you have to cut a lot out of a book when you adapt for the screen (even for a miniseries like this one), but this thing sputters as though it’s out of gas multiple times.
Anglophile viewers, however, might be willing to look past the narrative inconsistencies at hand here and instead focus on McEwan’s on-screen presence and the lovely scenery at hand. As we’ll discuss in a moment, the miniseries doesn’t look all that good on this set – unfortunately, this is all too familiar a state for many other TV endeavors of the period – but even if The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie flatlines every now and then, there are nevertheless elements within it worth keeping tuned in for.