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Laura and Mike are perfect for each other--or so it seems to their friends and relations. Middle-aged and set in their ways, they fumble toward marriage via an off-again, on-again romance. Judi Dench is a brainy, appealing Laura, Michael Williams (her real-life husband) a nervous Mike in this wistful British comedy series from the early '80s--warm, convincing, wonderfully acted. Set I, 4-1/2 hours on 3 cassettes.
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As the Jerome Kern-Dorothy Fields standard goes, this is A Fine Romance, a smart and low-key 1981 British series starring Oscar-winning Judi Dench and her real-life husband, Michael Williams, as a mismatched couple. This three-volume boxed set contains the first nine episodes, in which a comedy of errors keeps linguist Laura (currently translating a German textbook on urinary infections) and struggling landscape gardener Michael from hooking up romantically. It is, to again quote the song, a fine romance with no kisses (at least not until episode 6).
Like Glenda Jackson, Dench excels at portraying prickly women of fierce intelligence who possess a quick wit and a sharp tongue, and who do not suffer fools. "I don't have any small talk," she complains to her matchmaking sister at a party. "Or any medium talk."
Williams has a rumpled Dudley Moore quality as sad-sack Michael, "the odd single chap for the odd single girl." He is, as one character notes, "second division": quiet, nervous, short, and shy. His desperate attempts to find common ground with Laura--witness their ill-fated excursion to an ethnic mask museum exhibit in episode 2--make up much of the humor of these initial episodes.
As one observer notes, "I like you two; you're odd." It is a pleasure to watch Laura and Michael's "mutual apathy" blossom into, well, you know the song. --Donald LiebensonFrom the Back Cover:
From the vaults of British television comes a comedy gem starring, Dame Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) and real-life husband Michael Williams (Educating Rita) in this delightfully witty sitcom about two rather ordinary middle-aged people reluctantly falling in love. Laura, a brainy translator, and Mike, a shy landscape gardener, are thrown together by Laura's matchmaking sister and brother-in-law. Both attempt to run the other way only to find themselves flung amusingly together. Awkward and rumpled, Mike drives an old wreck of a van and fails to impress the prickly Laura. Mike senses an opportunity, but doesn't have the courage to pursue it. From this unpromising beginning, the pair lurch and swerve their way to companionship, friendship and, finally, love.
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