The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard



9-10:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21
KCET Los Angeles

Given the popularity of "The West Wing" and the fact that women actually are occupying high government office, it was inevitable that women assaulting the parapets of political power would continue to attempt becoming a popular entertainment genre.

There's the fascination with and trappings of celebrity, the opportunity for the subtle embedding of op-ed views and the usual tawdry adventures in sex, money and morality.

In the case of the five-part "The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard" from "Masterpiece Theatre," it takes place safely across the seas in the U.K. The new prime minster is Ros Pritchard (Jane Horrocks), a grocery store manager from an urban neighborhood in the same area of northern England that James Herriot's rurally situated "All Creatures Great and Small" came from. So you know she'll be a straight shooter with a slightly goofy (to American ears) accent. Nor is it a total surprise when she lends her opponent a tampon in a lavatory stall, and uses the F-word when she's really at her wit's end.

The cast is fabulous from start to finish, whether it's Janet McTeer, who's absolutely superb as a high-profile politico; Jodhi May, smart and warm as a media consultant; Steven MacIntosh, tormented as the predictably disoriented husband; or Dilys Laye as the wonderfully wise and doddering Queen Elizabeth II. At every crucial point, Horrocks comes triumphantly to the rescue, convincingly transforming the improbable into the wish-it-could-be-true.

In the U.K., the series tailed off after a ho-hum start, attracting only 3.5 million viewers by the final episode. In the U.S., the opposite might well be the case. If viewers can get through the first hour or so, when the initial premises are set up and populated, they might find the bits where the amazing Mrs. Pritchard and her staff and family actually take the time to sit down and discuss matters to be a breath of fresh air, not to mention a lesson in holistic organizational techniques.

While there is little resemblance between Mrs. Pritchard and Mrs. Clinton, either physically or in terms of public style, the way both go about finding options to difficult situations is very close, indeed.

KCET Los Angeles
Kudos Film and Television
Executive producers: Simon Crawford Collins, Jane Featherstone
Producer: Alison Jackson
Directors: Simon Curtis, Declan Lowney, Catherine Morshead
Teleplay/creator/associate producer: Sally Wainwright
Original music: John Lunn
Cinematographers: John Daly, Kieran McGuigan
Editors: Martin Sharpe, Tim Waddell, Michael Harrowes
Casting director: Julia Duff
Production designer: Tom Bowyer
Art directors: Jim Glen, Anna Pritchard
Costume designer: Charlotte Walter
Ros Pritchard: Jane Horrocks
Ian Pritchard: Steven MacIntosh
Catherine Walker: Janet McTeer
Miranda Lennox: Jodhi May
Sir Richard Leavis: Jonathan Aris
Emily Pritchard: Carey Mulligan
Georgina Pritchard: Jemma McKenzie-Brown
Kimberley: Sue Vincent
Liz Shannon: Meera Syal
Beverley Clarke: Siobhan Finneran
Kitty Porter: Frances Tomelty
Queen Elizabeth II: Dilys Laye