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Cherry Pop

'The Woman In White' [Mini-Series]
(Jessie Buckley, Ben Hardy, Olivia Vinall, et al / 2-Disc DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: This bold five-part adaptation brings a distinctly modern take to Wilkie Collins beloved mystery novel, combining romance, intrigue, and danger in a thrilling ride from the corridors of English country houses to the dankest, deepest corners of the Victorian madhouse.

DVD Verdict: As this five-part series opens we are told that Laura Glyde, nee Fairlie, is dead and that there are suspicions about the cause.

Over the course of the series we are shown what happened. Young London artist Walter Hartright is employed to go to Cumberland to catalogue Frederick Fairlie's art collection; while there he is also to tutor his nieces Laura and her half-sister Marian Halcombe.

Shortly before heading north he meets a timid woman dressed all in white - when he gets to Cumberland he is surprised to discover that Laura is the spitting image of the woman. It soon emerges that the 'Woman in White' is Anne, a local girl who had been sent to a London asylum for reasons unstated at this point.

Walter gets on well with the girls, in particular Laura, so her uncle sends him away. Shortly afterwards she is married to Sir Percival Glyde and moves to his remote house along with Marian, Sir Percival's friend Count Fosco and his wife, who is also Laura's aunt.

It soon becomes obvious that Sir Percival only married her for her money and the sisters' situation becomes precarious.

I really enjoyed this adaption of Wilkie Collins classic novel; the introduction may tell us that Laura is doomed but that only serves to raise tension; especially following her marriage.

Sir Percival is fairly menacing from the moment we see him but gets worse after the marriage; Fosco and his wife are perhaps more frightening as we see them apparently helping the sisters while also scheming against them. There are some impressive twists that should surprise some viewers.

As well as solid mystery the series has a lot to say about women's rights, or lack thereof, at the time - something that was obviously more radical at the time the original book was written.

The cast does a fine job; most notably Olivia Vinall, in the dual roles of Laura and Anne; Jessie Buckley as Marian; Dougray Scott, as Sir Percival and Riccardo Scamarcio, as Fosco.

There is also a fine performance from Art Malik as Erasmus Nash, the man employed to help discover the truth about what happened to Laura. While not essential to the story there is some impressive scenery to be admired during the series.

Overall I thought this was a great drama; the central mystery is intriguing and there is a good sense of threat for much of the time. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.