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To Be the Best Parts I & II

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.

With:
Cast: Lindsay Wagner, Anthony Hopkins, Stephanie Beacham, Christopher Cazenove, Stuart Wilson, James Saito, Fiona Fullerton, Gary Cady, David Robb, Claire Oberman, Christopher Blake, Thomas Ewbank, Rob Freeman, Julian Fellowes, Candy Lace-Smith, Louis Roth, Belinda Mayne, Rupert Bates, Moray Watson, Peter Dennis, John Atkinson, Ian Bleasdale, John Golightly, Lesley Clack, Jayne Beaufort, Ozzie Yue, Eddie Yeoh, Ai Vern, Sarah Lam, Kate Spiro, Bill Hutchinson , Bill Reimbold, Joan Hooley, Jason Rose, David Michael Clarke, Maria Eldridge, Emma Watson, Ellis Dale, Chris Jenkinson, John Sterland, Joanna Dickens, Jacqueline De Peza, Philip Blaine, Robert Austin, Rachel James, Sandra Caron, Priscilla Phillips, Tom Wu, Jay Benedict, Migel Y.S. Fan, Mark Houghton, Catherine Roman, Sam Douglas, John Cagan, Paul Bardier.

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.

To Be the Best Parts I & II

(Sun. (2), Tues. (4), 9-11 p.m., CBS-TV)

Production: Filmed in Hong Kong, Macau, London and N.Y. by Gemmy Prods. Exec producer, Robert Bradford; producer, Aida Young; director, Tony Wharmby; writer, Elliott Baker, based on novel by Barbara Taylor Bradford.

Crew: Camera, Alan Doberman; editor, John Shirley; art, Martin Childs, John Fenner, Malcolm Stone; sound, David Hildyard; music, Alan Parker; production designer, Brian Ackland-Snow.

Cast: Cast: Lindsay Wagner, Anthony Hopkins, Stephanie Beacham, Christopher Cazenove, Stuart Wilson, James Saito, Fiona Fullerton, Gary Cady, David Robb, Claire Oberman, Christopher Blake, Thomas Ewbank, Rob Freeman, Julian Fellowes, Candy Lace-Smith, Louis Roth, Belinda Mayne, Rupert Bates, Moray Watson, Peter Dennis, John Atkinson, Ian Bleasdale, John Golightly, Lesley Clack, Jayne Beaufort, Ozzie Yue, Eddie Yeoh, Ai Vern, Sarah Lam, Kate Spiro, Bill Hutchinson , Bill Reimbold, Joan Hooley, Jason Rose, David Michael Clarke, Maria Eldridge, Emma Watson, Ellis Dale, Chris Jenkinson, John Sterland, Joanna Dickens, Jacqueline De Peza, Philip Blaine, Robert Austin, Rachel James, Sandra Caron, Priscilla Phillips, Tom Wu, Jay Benedict, Migel Y.S. Fan, Mark Houghton, Catherine Roman, Sam Douglas, John Cagan, Paul Bardier.

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