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DVD Review: Love in a Cold Climate

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Acorn Media has released Love in a Cold Climate, an eight-part miniseries originally shown on Masterpiece Theater in 1980. Based on two novels by author Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, the miniseries is set in England during the time between the two World Wars.

The story follows three young women, vivacious and impulsive Linda (Lucy Gutteridge), her quiet cousin Fanny (Isabelle Amyes, who also narrates the series), and Fanny’s distant relative Polly (Rosalyn Landor), and their attempts to find true love.

[Judi Dench and Michael Aldridge]

But viewers will mostly be attracted to this series for Judi Dench, who plays Linda’s mother Sadie, Lady Alconleigh. Dench, as always, is enjoyable as the matriarch of the family, married to the bombastic Lord Alconleigh (Michael Aldridge). Especially wonderful is Michael Williams as Uncle Davey, a hypochondriac who is beloved and respected by his family. Williams (Dench’s real-life husband) provides comic relief with his frequently exasperating pursuit of offbeat remedies. 

Many faces familiar to fans of British television turn up as supporting characters (and love interests) include Anthony Head, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and John Moffatt as the family’s friend and neighbor Lord Merlin. Vivian Pickles is especially funny as the beyond-eccentric Lady Montdore.

Love in a Cold Climate‘s eight episodes are included on three discs, with an approximate total running time of 405 minutes. The aspect ratio is 1.33:1. SDH subtitles are available, but unfortunately no other extras are included in the box set. The look of the series definitely has a definite television studio-filmed look to it, but the locations and costumes are of the highest quality.

The list of episodes includes:

Episode 1 – Child Hunt
Episode 2 – Coming Out
Episode 3 – Rings and Things
Episode 4 – The Merry Widower
Episode 5 – Heir Apparent
Episode 6 – Foreigners Are Fiends
Episode 7 – Monsieur Le Duc
Episode 8 – In Love and War

Love in a Cold Climate is not just a wonderful showcase for Judi Dench, but a different glimpse at the same world that is currently being depicted in the popular series Downton Abbey. Vivian Pickles is an interesting counterpoint to Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess, portraying another one of the more crotchety members of the upper classes. Love in a Cold Climate is an entertaining look at love and life among Britain’s privileged set.

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