The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings
A CurtainUp Streaming Feature
While only Netflix has published subscription data, other streaming services have no doubt also experienced an uptick in viewers; especially since most have extended their free trial subscriptions to a full month so that those not already subscribeds have a chance to sample even a three-season series.
With more free time for streamed theater going, , I have, like those of you reading this, found myself exploring not just trending new shows, but older ones, several before CurtainuUp was launched. That brings me to Love Hurts, a BBC mini series broadcast over three seasons (1992, 1993, 1944), each featuring ten 54-minute episodes.
The love story of an older than usual couple made Love Hurts something of a groundbreaker. That's no longer the case. But hurrah, hurrah — though the early 1990s time frame makes some of the issues that complicate the story may seem a bit dated , the series holds up as a compelling, binge-worthy entertainment; first and foremost because of its terrific stars, Zoe Wanamaker and Adam Faith. As Tess Piggott and Frank Carver, a pair of very different type of high fliers in their forties, they manage to hook us in, and keep us coming back episode after episode, and all three seasons.
The American born but now British citizen Wanamaker is still very much alive (her most recent TV gig was in the popular Mr. Selfridge series). I was lucky enough to see her in a stunning Broadway production of Electra, (my review ) as well as in an Encores concert revival of the musical Zorba (my review) . Love Hurts is my first and only opportunity to be charmed by the former teen idol, actor and financial journalist (he died in 2003). No wonder Wanamaker's Tessa doesn't stick to her determination to avoid any more romantic entanglements. Frank is an irresistible, one-of-a-kind charmer and the chemistry between him and Wanamaker practically heats up the screen.
Though the script by Maurice Gran and Laurence Marks includes a good deal of humorous dialogue, I don't think it fits the producers' classification of the series as a comedy drama. Following Tessa and Frank's ups and downs more accurately validates the title. Their love, though intense, often does hurt.
The scenario that evolves over the course of all three seasons includes subplots involving other key characters in Tess and Frank's orbit. Numerous episodes take us to intriguing foreign locales and add elements of an adventure series to the central love story.
The title's message plays out right from the start when Tessa is devastated by her boss and lover for 7 years ditching her for a younger woman. Consequently she opts for a different life: No more men in her life, no more high-flyig, big bucks jobs.
Instead Tessa joins her college friend Diane Warburg ( Jane Lapotaire), to bring her communications expertize to a development support agency called SEED. Working with Diane and renewing their friendship fits her new life plan perfectly; that is until her determination to avoid another relationship is turned on its head by a flood in her bathroom. The flood is fixed by Frank Carver, a plumber who turnas out to be a millionaire entrepreneur who actually owns the company respondingTessa's emergency call.
Carver falls for Tessa and courts her aggressively, and she rejects him just as agressively. Naturally, her resistance crumbles. It happens when the SEED job takes her to Russia and he follows to resume his courtship. In typical Frank fashion, he also has another investment to go after there. One of these foreign episodes almost gets Tessa and Frank killed — but, of course, with many episodes to go, they not only survive but get married.
The series features a large cast, that includes Tessa's parents and Frank's daughter from his previous marriage. The most compelling subsiary characters are Tessa 's friend Diane who besides, her work at the agency, is a busy rabbi as well as wife and mother, and Max Taplow (Tony Selby), Frank's sidekick since childhood. Diane goes through her own version of Tessa's relationship and career ups and downs (a cheating husband, her own extra-marital romance, and need to abandon her career as a rabbi). Selby's Max . has a less than healthy sexual history and needs to become independent of Frank and find a love that nourishes him rather than hurt. Both Lapotaire and Selby are outstanding and if I have one major complaint, it's that Lapotaire was not in the final season.
The series is still available for free to Acorn TV subscribers, to rent at Amazon Prime, and to purchase as a DVD.
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Creators: Laurence Marks, Maurice Gran / Music: Alan Hawkshaw / Theme Sung by Peter Polycarpou / Script Editor: Devora Pope.
Principal Cast Members: Adam Faith as Frank Carver; Zoe Wanamaker as Tessa Piggota; Jane Lapotaire as Diane Warburg; Tony Selby As Max Taplow; Stephen Moore As Hugh Marriner; Suzanne Bertish as Mirav Levison
Episode length 54 minutes
Available for rent at Amaxon Prime, free to Acorn TV subscribers, and as DVD.
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