Picks and Pans Review: Richard Ii

updated 04/02/1979 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/02/1979 AT 01:00 AM EST

PBS (check local listings)

Richard III was the hunchback who lost his horse. No. II was almost as odd—a ruthless monarch surrounded by sycophants. Shakespeare's play about him (part of the 37-drama BBC series) is a gripping look at power and loyalty. Derek (I, Claudius) Jacobi is spectacular as Richard, deftly mixing arrogance and despair, and the rest of the cast is equally superb, especially John Gielgud, whose reading of the "this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England" speech is spine-stirring. It's a static play in which people mostly just talk—but when they speak language like this, who cares.

THURSDAY, MARCH 29

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