Picks and Pans Review: Masterpiece Theatre: a Wreath of Roses

updated 01/09/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/09/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

PBS (Sun., Jan. 8, 9 p.m. ET)

B

There is an air of PBS Brittwittery at the start: A woman in white gloves (Joanna McCallum) waits for a train and prissily reads a book while a dandy in an ascot (Trevor Eve) paces the platform. Then a stranger jumps in front of an arriving train and dies. And soon we learn how lonely and miserable the world is. McCallum is afraid to fall in love but wants to, so she falls for Eve, even though he is clearly crackers. Her friends are no rays of sunshine either: Elizabeth Richardson plays a flibberty buddy married to John Price as a boorish preacher, and Frabia Drake plays an old painter who thinks the world is ugly and cruel and can't paint pretty pictures anymore. A Wreath of Roses, adapted from the novel by Elizabeth Taylor ("no relation," Alistair Cooke informs us), comes close to rising above twittery and saying something about life in the world, not just in Britain. It comes close—just an inch away—but that's not quite close enough.

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