Picks and Pans Review: Diana: Her True Story

updated 04/05/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/05/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

NBC (Sun., April 4, 9 p.m. ET)

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Previous Chuck and Di chronicles on TV have portrayed the royal couple as simply incompatible. She liked disco; he liked polo—let's call the whole thing off. This meaty mini, based on Andrew Morton's bestseller, poses the problem more emphatically: The Prince and Princess sat on opposite sides of an unbridgeable generation gap.

By exaggerating the 13-year difference in their ages, the film strongly suggests that Charles, now 44, was guilty of robbing the cradle. When we first see the couple in juxtaposition—in 1967—he's an adult in full military regalia on a balcony of Buckingham Palace, attending to affairs of state, while she's a child, prancing around in her underwear and ballet slippers. When the courting begins, she's still a flighty teen; he's a prematurely senescent fuddy-duddy. Diana greets his clumsy, dispassionate marriage proposal with a cascade of helpless giggles. In fact, the most romantic thing Charles ever says to her is, "I find weeding quite therapeutic."

Serena Scott Thomas brings a beguiling, coltish charm to the role of Diana. David Threlfall plays Charles with a jaw so clenched that his quiet mumbling seems almost a speech impediment. (Threlfall becomes the second lead actor from the '80s stage and TV classic Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby to play Prince Charles on TV this year, following Roger Rees in ABC's Charles and Diana: Unhappily Ever After.)

The mini, which concludes the following night, was a ratings smash in Britain. It's easy to see why. This is the most emotional, detailed and intimate dramatization of the Windsor woes to dale. We even get to sit in on Diana's therapy sessions.

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