Judi Dench's early-80s breakthrough series gets a repackaged DVD edition....
Acorn Media / 660 Minutes / 1981-1984 / Unrated / Street Date: May 7, 2013
Laura Dalton (Judi Dench) in A Fine Romance is endearingly bumbling, especially when compared to her hotsy-totsy sister Helen (Susan Penhaligon). Helen’s the kind of girl who gets mistaken for a model all the time, while Laura has trouble keeping up with even the most simple and mundane personal conversations. This doesn’t deter Helen from trying to ever-so-slightly nudge ol’ sis into the dating world, though, and when Laura gets set up with a meekly handsome chap named Mike (Michael Williams), sparks fly.
This is the canvas of A Fine Romance: The Complete Series, yet another British television gem that Acorn Media has repackaged and made available in a sleek, comprehensive edition. Dench won a few BAFTAS for her role here, but even though Romance doesn’t enjoy the kind of rapturous continued attention other titles like Upstairs Downstairs continue to inspire, this low-to-the-ground TV-on-DVD set nevertheless comes across as being often startlingly charming.
Not surprisingly, the chemistry between Dench and Williams is what propels the show, and their on- and off-screen connection (they were married until his death twelve years ago) combine to concoct a lived-in yet blisteringly earnest emotional stasis (just wait until Judi starts locking herself in kitchen cabinets when she doesn’t get what she wants). A Fine Romance isn’t groundbreaking television in any major regard, but it proves yet again that when it comes to successful UK programming, sometimes a little good old-fashioned whimsy goes a long way.