Picks and Pans Review: All the King's Men
Show of the week
Debunking a legend can be a nasty business, but this "World War I drama on ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre corrects the record with respect and compassion.
In 1915 a company of volunteers from the English royal estate at Sandringham—servants, grooms, gardeners and the like—took part in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in Turkey. They marched bravely into heavy fire and disappeared into a mist, never to be seen again. The mythmaking process turned a mystery into a miracle, but the soldiers' true fate (only recently discovered) was a matter of grim reality.
David Jason gives an exceptional performance as Capt. Frank Beck, the estate manager and company commander who loses his illusions about the glory of war and the wisdom of higher authority but retains a familial devotion to the men in his charge. On the home front, Maggie Smith is perfect as the gracious, subtly assertive Queen Mother.
Bottom Line: Moving account of war's cost