Picks and Pans Review: Scarlett

updated 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

CBS (Sun., Nov. 13, 9 p.m. ET)


Here's the postbellum sequel to Gone with the Wind, based on Alexandra Ripley's novel, or, to grant it a more descriptive title, Scarlett's Grand Tour. From Atlanta to Charleston, Savannah, Ireland and London, our headstrong heroine is after the same thing as always: whatever—or whomever—she cannot have. In this case, what Scarlett O'Hara Butler wants is the alienated affections of her divorce-seeking hubby, Rhett, even if it takes her the eternity of eight TV hours to obtain it. (The saga continues Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.) There's a scenic, utterly superfluous detour to the Emerald Isle, where Scarlett acquires and restores her ancestral homestead, Ballyhara. Along the way she gets involved with the gunrunning Fenian Brotherhood and, more significantly...well, I'd better not reveal what few plot surprises this mini has.

The southern spitfire is here played by Englishwoman Joanne Whalley-Kilmer (oh, well, the first Scarlett, Vivien Leigh, was a British actress too). Despite Whalley-Kilmer's initially off-putting vulpine looks, she does well with what is still one of the juiciest roles in screen fiction.

We are introduced to the rakish Rhett (played by former 007 Timothy Dalton with a remarkably halfhearted stab at a drawl) as he sits playing cards in a bordello (run by Ann-Margret). A large cast is along for the ride, including Colm Meaney, Stephen Collins, Jean Smart, Sean Bean, John Gielgud, Annabeth Gish, George Grizzard, Julie Harris and Esther Rolle. The look of the miniseries is stunning, with sumptuous costuming and sets. But it's an essentially hollow and curiously dispassionate epic that forges relentlessly on without ever building up a head of steam. Our plucky Scarlett has landed in high cotton in this sequel, all right, but it's all rather gauzy.

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