Reckless, the Sequel

Viewers who haven't seen the original "Reckless" ought not to bother with this one, for context is everything in this Manchester-hospital sudser. Yet those who did enjoy the long, frothy slog of "Reckless" are in for a treat. "Reckless, the Sequel," though unimaginable without "Reckless," is in fact superior to its inspiration. At two hours, it's a tauter, more polished product, rich in humor and filled with sharply etched, if not entirely well-rounded, characters.

With:
Owen Springer - Robson Green Anna Fairley - Francesca Annis Richard Crane - Michael Kitchen Arnold Springer - David Bradley John McGinley - Conor Mullen Danny Glassman - Julian Rhind-Tutt Myrtle Fairley - Margery Mason Barbara Fairley - Anna Patrick Joyce Crane - Pauline Yates Robert Crane - Geoffrey Palmer Alison D'Arby - Carol Starks

When we last saw Owen Springer (Robson Green) and Anna Fairley (Francesca Annis) — at the end of six-hour mini “Reckless” — they were embarking on a new life together. Seemingly free from Anna’s meddling, adulterous husband Richard (Michael Kitchen), they looked bound for matrimonial bliss.

Now it’s one year later, and wedding bells are pealing. But who knew that Anna, still a successful businesswoman, and Owen, now a pediatrician, would opt to arrange for a quick civil ceremony rather than something more elaborate? Those quickie nuptials, and the rough road to them, are at the heart this two-hour sequel, which is like a dessert for those who enjoyed the rich repast that was “Reckless.”

Viewers who haven’t seen the original “Reckless” ought not to bother with this one, for context is everything in this Manchester-hospital sudser. Yet those who did enjoy the long, frothy slog of “Reckless” are in for a treat.

“Reckless, the Sequel,” though unimaginable without “Reckless,” is in fact superior to its inspiration. At two hours, it’s a tauter, more polished product, rich in humor and filled with sharply etched, if not entirely well-rounded, characters.

Essentially, the whole show concerns Richard’s last-ditch efforts to prevent Anna and Owen from getting to the altar. But Richard’s extreme measures are so absurd as to be enchanting. Just watching him attempt to escape a medical conference in Iceland is a pip.

And when Richard’s parents descend to attend Anna’s wedding, well, plenty of family animosity rises to the surface. That Richard’s droll father, Robert (Geoffrey Palmer), and Owen’s working-class dad, Arnold (David Bradley), become unlikely chums is a testament to the deftness of Paul Abbott’s script.

Anna’s hitherto unmentioned sister, Barbara (Anna Patrick), also makes an appearance and proves not entirely supportive of her elder sibling. Even less welcome is Alison (Carol Starks), one of Owen’s old flames, who suddenly lands a hospital job she’s not qualified for. Anyone want to guess who’s meddling again?

Ultimately, it’s the cast that makes all this work, and one can hardly imagine a finer ensemble. The central trio is pure gold, with Green and Annis smoldering together, and Kitchen a first-rate spoiler. As Richard’s parents, Palmer and Pauline Yates are excellent, and it’s wonderful to have Bradley and Margery Mason back as Owen’s dad and Anna’s mum, respectively.

Tech credits are aces, as is David Richard’s crisp direction.

Reckless, the Sequel

PBS; Sun. April 18, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in England by Granada Television and presented on PBS by WGBH Boston. Carolyn Reynolds, executive producer; producer, Sita Williams; director, David Richards; writer, Paul Abbott.

Crew: Production design, Christopher J. Truelove; camera, Lawrence Jones; editor David Cresswell; sound Nick Steer; music, Hal Lindes. 2 HOURS.

With: Owen Springer - Robson Green Anna Fairley - Francesca Annis Richard Crane - Michael Kitchen Arnold Springer - David Bradley John McGinley - Conor Mullen Danny Glassman - Julian Rhind-Tutt Myrtle Fairley - Margery Mason Barbara Fairley - Anna Patrick Joyce Crane - Pauline Yates Robert Crane - Geoffrey Palmer Alison D'Arby - Carol Starks

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