By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Just in time for Independence Day, the classic BBC period drama, “North & South” starring Patrick Stewart (“X-Men,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation”), makes its long-awaited worldwide DVD debut from Acorn.
A classic British romance in the vein of “Pride and Prejudice” and “Middlemarch,” this popular program is based on the celebrated novel by Elizabeth Gaskell (“Cranford,” “Wives and Daughters”) and depicts the tensions of the Victorian era, as traditional society clashed with the coming of the modern world. In other words, the title refers to Northern and Southern England, not the American Civil War.
Both a slow-burn romance and a clear-eyed view of the Industrial Revolution, “North & South” captivates with a magnetic performance by a young and full-haired Stewart. Originally broadcast on the BBC in 1975, the series never aired in the U.S., so this release is the first opportunity for American audiences to see the miniseries.
The two DVD set includes four episodes ($39.99, AcornOnline.com) but, unfortunately, no bonus features. The miniseries co-stars Rosalind Shanks (“A Question of Guilt”) and Rosalie Crutchley (“By the Sword Divided”).
Independent-minded Margaret Hale (Rosalind Shanks) moves with her parents to Milton, a manufacturing city in England’s north. Compared to the bucolic south where she was raised, Milton stifles Margaret with industrial smoke and soot—and she takes an instant dislike to John Thornton (Patrick Stewart) the ambitious and severe mill owner. But amid a workers’ strike and family misfortunes, Margaret begins to reconsider her sentiments.