A large, well-traveled set of characters who sip champagne and roll around in Rollses, a dedicated heiress, villains that do everything but hiss and a teleplay based on a book by the redoubtable Barbara Taylor Bradford should draw summer viewers in droves–like flies. Are suicide, murder, near-fatal accidents, contrived romances and less-than-awesome location filming enough to sell a miniseries? Just watch and see.
Londoner Lindsay Wagner, heiress to Harte’s Dept. Stores, has a husband (David Robb) and a son and is obsessed with controlling her inheritance.
Nasty Hong Kong-based cousin Christopher Cazenove, trying to take over the chain, will go to any absurd lengths to get it.
Wagner, debuting a Harte’s in Hong Kong, dispatches faithful cousin Christopher Blake to keep an eye on things. Cazenove turns ruthless aide James Saito on Blake without knowing that Saito has sicked a dish–Arabella Sutton, dolled up like Hedy Lamarr–on Cazenove to get his fortune.
The machinations, the leaky subplots and the poster-color characters clang along while Harte’s security chief, Anthony Hopkins, lets killers slip through his fingers.
Wagner’s agreeable brother, Gary Cady, and her New York chief, Fiona Fullerton, investigate not only a Midwest store chain but each other–tastefully. And so on.
Pulp-tome situations fall all over each other and, under Tony Wharmby’s amusing direction, the actors dreadfully overplay.
Wagner, sporting red hair, strides purposefully through the meller; Hopkins seems bemused.
Cady, Robb, Fullerton and Rupert Bates, as a detective, acquit themselves ably enough in the mechanical drama despite leaden banter and writer Elliot Baker’s awkward confrontations.
Even exotic locales look tired under Alan Doberman’s uninspired camerawork.
Designer Brian Ackland-Snow’s concepts, including one of the characters’ startlingly blue digs, equate to the action, and Alan Parker’s score saws dutifully along.
Filmed by Gemmy Prods., exec producer (and Bradford’s husband) Robert Bradford’s outfit, “To Be the Best” (the store’s motto) should pass for easy summer watching–especially if it’s warm enough.