Picks and Pans Review: Masterpiece Theatre: Goodbye Mr. Chips
Oh, those Brits. They may have taken over half the world in their heyday, but on TV now they act so fragile, so benign, so intentionally eccentric. This Mr. Chips is a textbook example of such a boutique Brit. As a young schoolmaster he's practically driven to unemployment and suicide by a bunch of bratty boys; he solves the problem with a good cricket match. He lives in a time, the early 1900s, when people are shocked breathless at the sight of a woman riding a bicycle. He sees an airplane and sighs, like a refugee from Outlaws: "I'd go back to the stagecoach if I could." I want to slap the man and tell him to get real. For unlike the original Mr. Chipses—Robert Donat in the 1939 movie or even Peter O'Toole in the 1969 musical-Roy Marsden as this Mr. Chips has too little strength to shine through the silliness, too little character. Still, Chips does have his charm. Marsden portrays him as a bumbler and a mediocre man of manners who learns to be a little human from his young wife, played by Jill Meager. He's endearing, but not enough to carry a three-hour miniseries.
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