01/08/1990 at 01:00 AM EST
PBS (Sun., Jan. 7, 9 P.M. ET)
To its honor, British TV has entrusted some of its most important productions to young, uncelebrated actors. Consider Jeremy Irons in Brideshead Revisited, Roger Rees in Nicholas Nickleby and Adrian Lukis in this 10-part miniseries. A mammoth project like this would never get made in America unless some star, years past his prime, was cast in the lead.
By turns absorbing and arid, After the War follows the fate of two Jews in Britain from the time they meet as schoolboys in 1942 until 1967. One (Lukis), a barrister's son, grows up to be a writer. The other (Robert Reynolds), a refugee from Germany, becomes a TV tycoon.
Dense as a Doris Lessing novel, this Masterpiece Theatre presentation, which airs on eight Sundays with double episodes on Feb. 4 and 25, is full of biting repartee and wonderful performances (Anton Rodgers, Geoffrey Palmer, Jeroen Krabbe, Denis Quilley, Shaughan Seymour). Viewing After the War is like spending a long afternoon—or, in this case, several long afternoons—in a dusty library reading room. If you can manage to keep your eyes open, you're likely to learn all sorts of things.