Whether on storm-tossed seas, in his native Liverpool, or exploring exotic ports of call, James Onedin is a magnet for turmoil and trouble. The first chapter of this powerful and addictive series, credited with launching Jane Seymour's career. 3 hours 20 min. on 4 cassettes.
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Ah, the sea, the sea. White-sailed ships manned by stouthearted sailors, oaken prows cleaving the Atlantic swell, carrying the wealth of Empire back home to England. Such is the appeal of The Onedin Line, which enjoyed a 10-year run on the BBC, from 1970 to 1980, providing an escape from that troubled decade into a world where Britannia still ruled the waves and a man could achieve riches and power with the sweat of his brow.
The saga begins in the 1860s, and this set contains the first four episodes of the long-running series. James Onedin (Peter Gilmore) is a headstrong young skipper from Liverpool who's tired of seeing all the profits from his voyages go to his shipping-magnate boss. Onedin is determined to start his own shipping line, and when an opportunity to buy a ship arises he doesn't balk at marrying the previous owner's daughter in order to cement the partnership. With his new ship Charlotte Rose--and a new wife who proves to be a shrewd business partner--Onedin begins to compete with his former employer for the most profitable routes, willing to risk everything to build his business empire. The big shipping lines, of course, want to crush the ambitious young upstart as quickly as possible.
While not quite Dallas-by-the-Sea, The Onedin Line is filled with intrigue, and Gilmore is riveting in the lead role--dashing, ruthless, with a very impressive set of whiskers. As befits a BBC costume drama, the period detail is wonderful, especially in the sailing scenes. The sight of the Charlotte Rose heeling to a strong breeze as the stirring theme music swells will be enough to make a sailor of any viewer. --Simon Leake
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