Faith has the natural instincts of a snoop as she eyeballs her older aunt, Vera (Celia Imrie), and beautiful Eden (Sophie Ward) going about their close lives.
Vera’s husband, Gerald, is away at war and her nasty son, Francis (Steven Mackintosh), oozes acid. Vera is upset whensister Eden joins the British navy, while she stays on at the house.
Eden sends a wire home saying she’s had a baby, Jamie, though Vera’s been saying she was the one who was pregnant. One of the mysteries is, who had the baby? More important, why does Vera slaughter Eden and get hanged for it?
Relationships aren’t always clear, nor is time itself. Story flashes back and forth as an older Faith, now married for the second time, pokes into the past to sort out as many details as possible. Faith finds there’s a loose wire among family members and of course wonders if she’s connected.
There’s all sorts of mischief during the telecast, with multiple murders adding up and Faith stumbling repeatedly on juicy sources of gossip.
Carter, Imrie and Ward are particularly effective, and Tim Fywell’s stunning direction works well within the teleplay’s demanding framework. Robin Ellis, one-time “Poldark” of “Masterpiece Theatre,” plays Faith’s portly papa, and Polly Adams is his, Vera and Eden’s half-sister, Helen. A family tree would help.
Rex Maidment’s camerawork slyly observes the happenings, while David Ferguson provides an appropriately foreboding score. Paul Munting’s design is absolutely first rate.
Off-putting at first, “A Dark Adapted Eye” is worth some patience. Although some plot elements, like Faith’s fortuitous presence for a major piece of detection, edge on the forced, Phillippa Giles’ atmospheric production works its magic; it’s a spellbinder.