Picks and Pans Review: Noble House
NBC (Sun.-Wed., Feb. 21-24, 9 p.m. ET)
I started playing the tapes for this eight-hour mini, and suddenly the women couldn't help themselves. They'd hear that neo-Cary Grant accent, rush to my office and moon at the TV. Their jaws would drop. Their knees would shake, rattle and roll. As if they were Juliets speaking Romeo's name, they'd sigh and say: "Pierce Brosnan." Noble House is his show. It is his coming-out party as an official debonair sex symbol. It is absolute proof that he should have been James Bond—a role that would have combined the humor he displayed in Remington Steele with all the grace, charm, cleverness, good looks and deft acting he displays in Noble House, a stir-fried Dallas based on James (Shogun) Clavell's novel. As Ian Struan Dunross, the modern-day tai-pan (that's Chinese for chief executive autocrat) of an ancient Hong Kong corporation, Brosnan plays puppeteer over a score of story lines. He fights back from financial ruin, then fends off hostile—and surprisingly exciting—takeover attempts by his evil rival, John (Raiders of the Lost Ark) Rhys-Davies. He gets into business with Ben (Making Mr. Right) Masters as an unethical American tycoon. He gets into bed with Masters' assistant, Deborah (Lace II) Raffin. He inherits a mysterious, century-old obligation to grant any favor to the holders of certain half coins. He gets wrapped up in kidnapping, murder, spy stories, drug smuggling, fires, landslides and international intrigue. Brosnan controls every scene, calmly, coolly. He is the best of the show. There is more good acting from Rhys-Davies, the gorgeous Julia Nick-son as a TV reporter, Gordon (Upstairs, Downstairs) Jackson as a cop and Denholm Elliott in a cameo as Brosnan's predecessor. And Hong Kong co-stars too; it is a magnificent sight, delightfully photographed in the streets, the junk-filled harbor, the stock exchange floor and the penthouses of the city. Okay, so a few of the bit parts are awfully played. And yes, there is a bit too much talk about old tales. But ignore its pimples. Noble House is great. It is the salvation of the mini-series. For unlike Windmills of the Gods and every other mini in recent (and unhappy) memory, Noble House tells a story too big and too majestic for a mere two-hour movie. That's why it is a miniseries. And this is what every miniseries should be.
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