Friday, October 3, 2008

Life imitating soap opera: The Amazing Mrs Pritchard

Imagine, if you can, a world leader with little previous experience, troubled children, a husband with a compromised past, a funny Northern accent--but boundless confidence that with honesty and common sense, she can clean up the mess in the national government.

No, not that one. I'm talking about Ros Pritchard, the eponymous fictional heroine of a TV series that aired on BBC One in 2006 and on Masterpiece Theatre last fall.

The concept was too far-fetched for the Brits, apparently. The Amazing Mrs Pritchard "fared poorly in the ratings," says a Wikipedia article. Americans liked it somewhat better. Ginia Bellafante, writing in the New York Times, called the five-part series "a guilty pleasure," and Matthew Gilbert's review in the Boston Globe pronounced it "likable."

Mr Neff and I watched Mrs Pritchard on DVD long before we had any reason to think life might imitate public entertainment. The premise is intriguing--who among us has never thought he or she could do better than our elected officials?--yet the tone is light. This is soap opera, not French film. Jane Horrocks plays Ros with a just-right combination of wackiness and high purpose, and Janet McTeer as Catherine Walker is a formidable foe and foil.

Mrs Pritchard is safe to watch in a mixed group of Republicans and Democrats, and it's likely to be more fun than the next two debates. You can order it from Netflix or Blockbuster (or pick it up at the Wheaton Public Library).

For more information about Mrs Pritchard's fictional political party, the Purple Alliance--halfway between red and blue!--check out their website.

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