Picks and Pans Review: Great Books: Don Quixote and Great Expectations
Don Quixote B; Great Expectations A
Don't dismiss this documentary series as the Cliffs Notes of cable TV. It's a stimulus for reading, not a substitute. The programs on Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote and Charles Dickens's Great Expectations premiere back-to-back as part of an 18-hour festival that includes repeats of works from Alice in Wonderland to Catch-22.
Narrated by Donald Sutherland, the shows blend dramatization, historical background and commentary by scholars and enthusiasts. The Great Expectations hour is superior because the interviewees—among them novelist John Irving and actor Ethan Hawke (star of a forthcoming film adaptation)—all appear passionate about the book. Although novelist Carlos Fuentes is clearly a genuine Quixotephile, ex-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and Curtis Sliwa, founder of the crime-fighting Guardian Angels, seem more in love with their own impossible dreams.
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