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  • This series was a huge undertaking, of a sort that probably would not be attempted today. It was an adaptation of Trollope's "Palliser" novels, and dealt with a great many characters and intertwining plots. The series worked best for viewers who could take an interest in the fictional politics of the time, as Plantagenet Palliser, like most of the men in the story, is a politician and this theme runs throughout the series. However, Susan Hampshire as Lady Glencora, his mismatched wife, provides a romantic strain as well, though she eventually adopts her husbands concerns and interests as her own. The story from time to time veers away from these two main characters, and becomes quite entertaining as it delves into the complicated life of the scheming Lizzy Eustace, and also that of the greenhorn politician from Ireland, Phineas Phinn. His problems with women and his trial for murder (including a cross-examination in Latin!) are among the most interesting and enjoyable passages in the series. This is a thoroughly entertaining series for those who can just relax into the Victorian atmosphere and are not in a hurry to get to the end.
  • bridget-1311 December 2004
    They really don't make them like this any more - nearly 20 hours of TV devoted to six Trollope novels. The costumes are fabulous, the sets lavish, the acting superb. The whole is set around the characters of Lady Glencora Palliser (Susan Hampshire) and her husband, Plantagenet (Philip Latham), who string the various stories together more or less loosely. We start out with a miserable and rebellious Glencora and her arranged marriage with Plantagenet, follow the tale of Alice Vavasour and her suitors, then continue with Phineas Finn and his turbulent life. On to the wicked Lizzie Eustace, back to Phineas and then on to poor Emily Wharton. The last chapter is about the Duke's children, Silverbridge, Mary and Gerald. Around these central characters you have a huge cast of supporting characters, every one of them beautifully portrayed. The series has stood the test of time very well indeed, probably because they did it all well to begin with - the costumes all authentic and hand made, no zippers here! What a delight.
  • Does anyone know why the beautiful narration by Greer Garson was removed from the DVD? I too loved the series and want to watch it again but with the narration and cannot locate a VHS or DVD with it.

    I remember looking forward to every Sunday evening with Alistair Cooke and The Pallisers. Wonderful. We would sip sherry and not speak for one hour.

    The cast, in my view, was brilliant. The costumes authentic and because of the way in was filmed in 1974, I felt I was watching and enjoying live theatre. This would be a brilliant class project for students in a high school. To hear beautiful English spoken and watch a tale of long ago unfold each week for a whole term. Marvelous.
  • This excellent series starts slowly and takes several episodes to really get off the ground, but patience is rewarded because the series becomes quite engrossing. Most of the acting is excellent, with many of the "Usual Suspects" of BBC/Masterpiece Theater productions. Central to the whole drama are Phillip Lathan as Plantagenet Palliser and Susan Hampshire as PP's wife, Lady Glencora. Past the first few episodes they are rarely at the center of the goings on, but they provide a dramatic constant and help hold the rather sprawling series together. The focus of the series, like Trollope's "Palliser" novels, moves from one series of characters and events to another. While this makes "The Pallisers" a bit jumpy and episodic, it does provide variety and keeps the very long miniseries from getting stale. My personal favorite series of episodes are those in which Phineas Finn is tried for murder; there are some wonderful courtroom scenes. If you like period drama, this is just the ticket for you.
  • Julie-305 September 2000
    this is one of the greatest mini-series ever made.

    The Pallisers is based on Trollope's six wonderful political novels, and this production is very faithful to the source material. I was a little nervous when I heard that the first eight episodes were being released because I was afraid that they wouldn't be as good as I had remembered. However, I was very pleased to see that this production has aged rather gracefully, unlike so many other productions from the 1970s. It is still a delight to behold.

    I have waited 17 years to see The Pallisers again and, while owning episodes 1-8 is wonderful, I am champing at the bit to see the rest.
  • This series deals with the second series of novels by Anthony Trollope that people recall when thinking of his novels. They are the six novels making up the story of Plantagenet Palliser's political rise and fall from Can You Forgive Her" through "The Prime Minister" and "The Duke's Children". Plantagenet (Philip Latham) is the nephew and heir of the Duke of Omnium and Gatherum (Roland Culver) who is England's richest nobleman (his estates, by the way, are in Barset). We watch Plantagenet (a Whig, and something of a currency reformer - he is trying to push a decimal currency in 19th Century England, so he is a century ahead of his time there) pursues Lady Glencora (Susan Hampshire) in the first story, where she is tempted by a more raffishly attractive lover Burgo Fitzgerald. After their marriage, the story turns attention to Phineas Finn, "the Irish Member"(Donal McCann), and his sexual political problems with two women, one of whom is Madame Max Gestler (Barbara Murray), the girlfriend of the Duke of Omnium. The third novel dealt with Lizzie Eustace (Sarah Badel), her romances with Lord George (Terence Alexander), Reverend Emilius (Anthony Ainsley), and the inept Lord Fawn (Derek Jacobi), and her plotting to maintain possession of "the Eustace Diamonds" (Trollope spoofs Wilkie Collins here). The fourth novel deals with again with Finn (the novel was "Phineas Redux"), and his final choice for a wife, as well as his trial for murder (the murder of a political rival - the real murderer is revealed by a witness who is from Bohemia and has to be cross-examined in Latin). The fifth novel follows Plantagenet (now Duke of Omnium) reaching the top of Disraeli's "greasy pole" (he is Prime Minister, but in a minority coalition government), and discovering that he can't get his favorite currency reform through. "The Duke's Children" dealt with the problems of Plantagenet and Glencora with their children, in particular their son Lord Silverbridge (Anthony Andrews), and how the family is brought together by the death of Glencora.

    Trollope's strength was in being honest and painstaking in trying to describe the reality of the world. If you read "The Eustace Diamonds", Lizzie has gotten physical control of the jewelry when married to the previous Lord Eustace. But was this just temporary as long as her husband was alive, or was it permanent? There is a long chapter in the novel dealing with the British laws regarding family heirlooms that was based on legal advice Trollope sought from a solicitor to make the novel as accurate as possible. He was one of the few writers of his day to go to such elaborate lengths.

    That chapter is not done in detail in the series, but the stories keep quite close to what Trollope did. The series shows the political world of that day (and really of any day) where the personalities are mixed, and you may need to work with really obnoxious types. In "Can You Forgive Her?" Glencora gets to meet a political figure who is on the lowest level of the Whig Party. The man is not a bad man, but he happens to get on her bad side. Plantagenet tries to correct this misunderstanding of him, but he does not succeed. When, in a general election, the poor man loses, Glendora celebrates!

    Bigotry appears in various guises, most notably in the career of Finn, and his Irish heritage (he meets with contempt from the newspapers and some of the leaders for that reason). His need for a wealthy wife eventually crosses his path with Madame Max, who is Jewish. Yet she is tolerated more than Phineas - she has a protector in her lover the Duke of Omnium.

    For a good introduction to the series of novels, the series of episodes could not be beat. Well acted, and well produced, it was a good introduction or sequel to "The Barset Chronicles" (which was produced in the 1980s, but those novels were printed first. If you can see it, you will agree to my high opinion on it.

    By the way, at one point one of the characters is in jail, and is visited by his friend Dolly Longstaffe (Donald Pickering). Longstaffe is looking at some books that have been sent to the character, and reads the titles like "The American Senator", "An Old Mam's Love", and smiles, and says "I see the old fellow's still turning them out!". Yes - the "old fellow" is Anthony Trollope.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In 1967 the BBC produced "The Forsyte Saga", a 26-episode adaptation of John Galsworthy's novels. It was a sensation and gripped the whole country. The BBC's only mistake was making the series in black-and-white. In the early 1970's, with colour television becoming the standard, they looked for another 'saga' they could treat the same way but as a colour production and came up with "The Pallisers". Once again they got it right, magnificently right, but the series didn't seem to grab the public as the Forsytes did (a strike half way through the first transmission didn't help). This is a great shame because this is one of finest costume dramas ever made for TV.

    It's hard to know where to start praising this series. Simon Raven does an excellent job of weeding out Trollope's inessential sub-plots and leaving the meaty stories revolving around major characters. His dialogue is rich and intelligent and full of character.

    The production values are superb. The use of videotape for exterior scenes avoids the jarring jump from studio work to grainy film that was a feature of TV production at the time (although some remote locations, such as Scotland, still rely on film). The interiors are rather set/studio-bound, but there's nothing cheap about them and they are convincing. The costumes look as though they cost a fortune in themselves (I don't think Susan Hampshire wears the same dress twice).

    So what of the drama? Nothing less than 26 episodes packed with incident and fascinating characters: George Vavasor, Ferdinand Lopez, Mr. Bonteen, Robert Kennedy, Mr. Chaffenbrass, Lizzie Eustace, Lord Fawn, Sextus Parker, the list is huge and the cast is a roll-call of the best British actors around doing some of their best work to bring their characters to life. It's a team effort and impossible to select one outstanding member, they are all memorable.

    At the centre lie the two fixed characters of Plantagenet and Glencora. All I can say here is that Susan Hampshire is so charming and lovable as Glencora she steals your heart as much as she does Planty Pal's. In some ways Philip Latham has a thankless job as Plantagenet. He is the embodiment of a high-minded public servant: humourless, devoted to his work, and an apparently aloof, unaffectionate husband and typical Victorian father. Again, though, the script fills out the character and some of the most memorable moments in the whole series come when Philip Latham shows the human qualities that lie behind this forbidding shell (particularly his fair-mindedness when faced with an argument). The scene where he tells Glencora never to think he doesn't love her is very moving and as a fine a piece of acting as you will find.

    Above all, the story of Glencora and Plantagenet shown in the series is the *true* story of a marriage. With all its ups and downs, misunderstandings, disagreements and differing points of view, there comes to be a deep affection between them that stands the test of time.

    It is this that makes "The Pallisers" one my very favourite TV series (along with "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" which is a horse of a very different colour): it is huge in scale but never loses sight of the human element. Anthony Trollope said he was fascinated by "the interestingness of existence". This adaptation, full of love, betrayal, greed, jealousy, ambition, *and* comedy, captures this in a truly unforgettable way.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "The Pallisers" is a visual retelling of six sequential novels of Anthony Trollope dealing with the Palliser clan through a couple of decades in the nineteenth century.

    The novels have been truncated (for instance, the whole triangle of Mr. Cheeseacre, Mrs. Greenow and Captain Bellfield has been excised from the part covering CAN YOU FORGIVE HER?) but Trollope always was too baggy and needed trimming. And for Trollope fanatics, they do trot Griselda Grantley into the first episode.

    What remains is so sprawling, Barrington Erle and Dolly Longstaffe (a slight character in the Palliser novels!) are used, individually and in tandem, as a running Greek Chorus through the series. This is a controversial decision, but Moray Watson's Erle is a likable and perhaps absent-minded consummate political insider; while Donald Pickering's Dolly -- acting the lackadaisical, foppish man-about-town -- shows deeper waters running in him than the Dolly from THE WAY WE LIVE NOW.

    Though this series was made in the days when this kind of show was performed like a videotaped play, crude effects and rear photography do not interfere with the quality of the production. The sets and costumes are gorgeous and all the exterior party scenes look great.

    What "The Pallisers" lacks in effects, it more than compensates for in the acting department.

    The show is carried by beautiful Susan Hampshire as Lady Glencora and the sometimes inaudible Philip Latham as Plantagenet Palliser. It's full of solid British actors -- old timers like Roland Culver, Basil Dingham and Roger Livesey, and up-and-comers like Derek Jacobi, Penelope Keith, Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons. Stockpiled with notable British actors in small parts, American viewers will recognize Edward Hardwicke of "Sherlock Holmes" and Peter Sallis of Wallace and Gromit amongst others.

    Mystery writer John Dickson Carr once had a character ask, "What if Trollope wrote like Dickens?" Well, Dickens was the better word smith, his writing has greater charm, his characters spring more off the page. His stories were better, his various plots dovetailed better than Trollope's do, and when Dickens is truncated the stuff that is excised is often so good it's missed.

    Yet Trollope's lesser genius seems to adapt better for television. When Dickens is done accurately, his characters are almost too grotesque on the small screen (see the family of Wackford Squeers in the Nigel Havers "Nicholas Nickleby." Trollope's books are packed with pages of yawn-inducing material this is much more dispensable than anything from Dickens. Trollope's many ill-defined, throw-away characters can be thrown away, and those who remain, sometimes more definable by their names than their characters on the page, seem more suitable for television because they're not larger-than-life. An amorphous mass of literature like Trollope's six Palliser novels can be more properly shaped for television installments than Dickens by judicious pruning.

    There's a lot of nipping and tucking of Trollope in "The Pallisers", and that's a good thing. The individual novels, as dramatized, flow from story to story like a Victorian soap opera as characters age, die, are born, have flings, get married, get elected, and so forth.

    "The Pallisers" is a long-term commitment that may not suit today's shorter attention spans, but it still can be addictive; and DVDs make it a far cry from the days before normal houses had videotape recorders and viewers had to be on the spot every week for 26 weeks to see this solid saga unfold.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As an adaptation of Anthony Trollope's brilliant Palliser series, I fail to see how this production could have been any worse. What appears to have happened (this is pure speculation) is that someone unfamiliar with Trollope's work hired novelist Simon Raven to write the series, and Raven decided that Trollope didn't know how to tell his own stories and that he -- Raven -- would tell better ones using the same character names.

    For those who have read the books, here is a partial list of reasons why you should steer very clear of this regrettable "adaptation" (spoilers ahead). The following appalling things happen in the TV series: Phineas Finn is sleeping with Mary Flood Jones, and marries her only because she gets pregnant.

    The love between Plantagenet Palliser and Lady Dumbello is based entirely on their mutual interest in decimal coinage.

    Lady Glencora gets a big long death scene.

    Dolly Longstaffe is a friend of Lady Glencora's.

    The elder Duke of Omnium is a dirty old man who pinches his nurse.

    Burgo Fitzgerald is ugly, and for some bizarre reason, he and his aunt appear to be on the verge of going to bed together.

    Almost all of the casting is way off the mark.

    All of that delicious, true-to-life dialog, that is a large part of the fun of reading Trollope and that adapts so well to the screen, has been eliminated, and replaced with glib pseudo-witticisms and cheap innuendos.

    All of the novels' thoughtful and searching treatment of character has been drained away and replaced with a lot of utterly uninteresting people in drably sensational situations. The plots have been altered and the emotional interest removed entirely.

    This is a very, very incomplete list of things Raven changed -- not one of them for the better. Raven also added no end of scenes of stupid hijinks which not only are not in any of the books, but are not engaging in any way themselves.

    All told, this production is a shabby and disrespectful treatment of some truly great novels, and has little merit as anything else. I was excited when I first found out that the Pallisers had been adapted for the screen as a miniseries. I figured, with such great material to work with, how bad can it be? The answer is, *astoundingly* bad. If you admire Trollope even dimly, stay very far away from this utter stinkbomb. If you want to see a Trollope novel adapted to the screen with both fidelity and artistic competence, see Masterpiece Theatre's recent production of *He Knew He Was Right*.
  • Even at 24 hours or so, this family does not overstay its welcome. Splendidly costumed and intricately plotted characters – for the most part wonderfully portrayed – combine in a number of imbricate tales, all of which, however seemingly episodic, reveal aspects of our main characters' (the Paliser paterfamilias and his wife) personalities. Humane, feminist, open- minded and just – all these define the stiff, awkward, sometimes dour but never pessimistic Plantagenet Paliser, and explain his attraction to us. He indulges his wife, the real axis for much of the story, and it's good he does; she rounds out his truth with an emotional honesty of her own that he opposes at first only to, always, bow to. It is the characters then that grab us in this long miniseries, as they must in any long-form for us to stay engaged. The Palisers may not have the same degree of dramatic ups and downs of I, Claudius and other miniseries greats – but the humanity the eponymous couple demonstrates is just as compelling.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "The Pallisers", what we Americans call a mini-series, is an easy way to swallow Trollope. For the U.S. especially, it's interesting for appearances by later-famous Actors like Derek Jacobi, Anthony Andrews, Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons, Kate Nichols (who went on to the RSC's semi-live "Nicholas Nickleby") and Lynne Frederick, a beautiful young actress who became the final Mrs. Peter Sellers.

    A veritable whos-who of British acting circa 1974, it would be unfair to keep naming particular players. The most important role, of course, is Susan Hampshire's. She sees the series through from beginning to end. An excellent actress who comes across as likeable as well as attractive on television, Hampshire admirably carries the miniseries through twenty-six episodes. Her partner in this marathon is Phillip Latham, who unfortunately falls into the trap of how an actor plays a dull character without being dull himself. Latham starts out dull and stays there.

    The people who cobbled this series together did one extraordinarily clever thing, bringing in Barrington Erle (who does not appear in all the Palliser books) and Dolly Longstaffe (who appears in the final Palliser novel but is more prominent elsewhere in Trollope) as a running "Greek Chorus." Apparently close friends in the televised "Pallisers" Longstaffe (played archly by Donald Pickering as a club gadfly and collector of gossip a la Sherlock Holmes' Langdale Pike) and Erle (a man closer to the politicos, played with his usual aplomb by Moray Watson) keep us informed, via their conversations, on the twists and turns of plot, to help keep the viewer abreast of events. For instance, in one episode they enter their club with a conversation tantamount to announcing, "Well, here it is, four years later . . .!"

    The first few episodes, where Glencora (Hampshire) is tormented by her love for Burgo Fitzgerald despite her marriage to Plantagenet (Latham) is for me the least interesting part of the show and may be a turn-off to viewers without a Barabara-Cartlandesque streak in their character. The other main plotline in the early episodes, the triangle between Alice Vavasor, her debt-ridden cousin George who buys his way into Parliament and the aptly named Mr. Gray is enlivened only by Gordon Gostelow's seedy and disreputable political manager, Mr. Scruby.

    "The Pallisers" finally comes to life when it introduces the characters comprising the "Eustace Diamonds" episodes. Sarah Badel is perfectly cast as the not-altogether-trustworthy Lizzy Eustace. The other characters brought in during this spell of the program (Martin Jarvis as Lizzie's mostly-upright cousin Frank; Terence Alexander as the shady Lord George; June Whitfield and Wallace and Grommit's Peter Sallis as the Bontines; Derek Jacobi as the timorous Lord Fawn and Penelope Keith as the sister who rules Fawn's life) all work to raise these episodes to the most enjoyable. I'd like to have seen more of these stained characters cut loose from the "Palliser" framework.

    Sandwiching the "Eustace Diamonds" episodes are the exploits of Phineas Finn (Donal McCann) and his many loves (including Anna Massey and Mel Martin). Playing fast-and-loose with several women (including one waiting for him back home in Ireland) one feels Finn got what he deserved.

    The second Phineas Finn series is enlivened by the subplot of the love between ne'er-do-well Gerald Maule (Jeremy Clyde of "Chad and Jeremy") and Adelaide Palliser (comedienne Jo Kendall from radio's "I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again" and "The Burkiss Way"). This is another sequence snipped altogether too short.

    While my favorite episodes are the ones with Lizzie Eustace and her coterie, also good is the "Ferdinand Lopez" series, with Stuart Wilson as Lopez and Sheila Ruskin as the lady-love for whom he ruins himself.

    The last several episodes will probably be most interesting to most Americans, featuring the more familiar faces of Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews, as well as Lynne Frederic, Kate Nichols and Michael Cochrane.

    Trollope addicts may cavil at truncations and the elimination of characters like Lucy Morris or Lucinda Roanoke. Overall the series not so much "televised Trollope" as a clever--and monumental--re-imagining of the massive "Palliser" novels with something for everyone's taste. While I wish I could see more of the antics of Lizzie Eustace, her cousin Frank and Lord George or the chicanery of Ferdinand Lopez and could do with less of George Vavasor and Phineas Finn, these parts of the whole may delight other viewers.

    Remember "The Pallisers" is twenty-six episodes long! Played one episode a week, that takes up half a year. Even at that length, they did a superb job of distilling the "Palliser" essence from Trollope, who when writing a novel had little stopping sense, and who was always happy to throw more characters into his over-crowded stews.

    The most delightful part of "The Pallisers" is seeing so many well-honed British actors of all ages playing so well together for a program whose episodes, played back-to-back, will take up nearly an entire 24-hour day.