50 Shades of Family Fun in Four Parts*
By way of introduction, it is important to know that Shades of Love is a sequel to Rosamunde Pilcher’s September. It has an entirely different cast from the miniseries based on the book which debuted 14 years earlier. It is not based on a Rosamunde Pilcher novel, but takes her characters from September and projects what may have become of them about 10 years in the future. For those who have read Pilcher’s beloved The Shell Seekers and September, it is interesting to note the whiplash-inducing turns in the Noel Keeling character. In Shades of Love he is back to Nasty Noel of the first novel. Poor Alexa of September really got the short end of the stick! If you liked her happy ending in September pretend this one never happened. Although fear not! She does come about in the last episode.
Each of the four parts of this mini-series has some closure while setting up the next episode with some unresolved plot points. We have illicit affairs resulting in pregnancies, adultery, tragic love affairs, boy next door happy love affairs, revenge, forgiveness, betrayal, blackmail, bankruptcy, corporate shenanigans, and 2 cases of grown-up children discovering their Mommies and/or Daddies are not who they think they are. All is resolved and ends happily for most after much trial and tribulation. Though Beware: there are several deaths mixed into the pot.
There are some well-known actors in this among the older set, and all do their jobs pretty well, although Harriet Walter is terribly wasted in a nothing part. Rebecca Night, who plays one of the most important roles as Laura, was a disappointment. She had a strangely affected way of speaking which was very distracting and a very placid way about her which was not at all engaging. Rosamunde Pilcher excels at writing about nice and good women that you really root for. The actress just made this character dull. Adrian Lucas was a great villain, and the German actress, Esther Shweins, who played the mysterious Olivia Thorpe in season 2 was a stand-out: Class, beauty, charisma, and dignity. She even managed to rise above the gigantic and nonsensical plot hole in the last episode.
All in all, I enjoyed it for what it was but did not rise to the quality of Coming Home, The Shell Seekers, or any of Rosamunde’s legitmate novels that were brought to the screen. The scenery was beautiful. **7 out of 10 stars**
*Apologies to Rosamunde for using the phrase, “50 shades” in conjunction with anything she is even vaguely associated with.
July 18, 2016