Picks and Pans Review: Masterpiece Theatre: Lord Mountbatten—the Last Viceroy

updated 01/27/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/27/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

PBS (Sun., Jan. 26, 9 p.m. ET)


Call me suspicious. Mobil underwrites Masterpiece Theatre. Mobil co-produced Lord Mountbatten. Now Masterpiece is running Mountbatten. That connection is the only reason I can imagine why this very British miniseries is being shown here. Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India, who oversaw the end of colonial rule there, was a beloved British figure. And that's just the problem with this six-part series: The show is so reverential that it gives Mountbatten the warmth and humanity of a marble bust. Worse, Nicol (Passion Flower) Williamson makes the man sound like Dudley Do-Right. Worse still, Sam Dastor plays Gandhi as Father Guido Sarducci might play him on Saturday Night Live; his performance comes off like an unfunny parody of a great man. And worse than any of that, the series brings out every latent patronizing attitude Britain can still summon about its former colonial subjects, portraying Indian leaders as immature children and the Indian people as mobs who only moan or murder. Two decent performances do stand out (it's not hard): Janet Suzman as Lady Mountbatten and Ian Richardson as Nehru get to show a faint spark of apparently platonic passion between them; they at least look like they're breathing. But since most of the mini's alleged plot takes place in meeting rooms, Lord Mountbatten ends up being not only offensive but also offensively dull.

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