30 March 2004 | httpmom
A Handsome Jazz Age Soap Opera
Recently released on DVD....I couldn't wait to view it again. First saw this on Masterpiece Theater in the late 70's, when I expressly stayed home on Sundays to savor the 13 episodes in their entirety. It was programing like this, Elizabeth R, Upstairs, Downstairs, I Claudius, etc. that got me hooked for life on Masterpiece Theater. 'Love For Lydia' is basically a handsome Jazz Age soap opera. A highly exuberant and distinguished backdrop for a mini-series endorsed as a romance but in reality a coming of age story.
`Love For Lydia', written by H.E. Bates ( My Uncle Silas) of Northamptonshire, England is an admonition and harbinger of rural England pre-and post depression. It's as much about the loves of the lead character, Lydia Aspen, a self centered young heiress played with remarkable and wicked alacrity by Mel Martin as it is about Edward Richarson, a H.E. Bates alter ego character. Both youths are so impossibly immature that I spent the first 10 episodes deciding which one was more obnoxious. Lydia is a typical spoiled rich kid who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. After first becoming involved with Edward she proceeds to seduce every man in North England. Edward, being a sensitive would be writer can not seem to detach himself from her emotionally, which, of course is how she likes it best.
It's curious to note that the supporting cast are often more assertive and certainly more appealing than the main characters. In Edwards best friend, Alex Sanderson, we have a brilliant and youthful Jeremy Irons, who down right commands the show in his part as a conceited prat who somehow manages to be charming in spite of himself. An actualization of the quintessential snotty young upper crust Brit...of the type they are always trying to cast now days with Hugh Grant. Irons talent was astonishing even then...so raw that there was little doubt of predicting his brilliant future. Rachel Kempson and Beatrix Lehmann were enticing as Lydia's elderly Aunts, Juliana and Bertie. They were so delectably in character I always longed for scenes with these two ladies. Lydia's disagreeable Uncle Rollo was made lifelike by Michael Aldridge `Love in a Cold Climate" (1980). Add to these many more capable actors and it's quite a impressive cast.
As for the DVD, the color is faded and the sound is not digital. This was produced pre-DVD so there are no easter eggs here. The good news is you can rent the whole series...because while it is a scrumptious rent...it would be hardly worth owning. It's important to remember that it was designed to be viewed in one hour increments, therefore to sit and watch 3 or 4 episodes at a time would prove a little too monotonous...especially toward the end when the flapper era has been laid low by the economic crisis that preceded W W I. However, the lavish attention to detail that marks Masterpiece Theater is ever present. If you enjoy British literature adaptations you will be drawn right into the drama.
In my view it's test of time score is 8 ½.