Monday, 15 May 2017
682 Master of the Game
First viewed : 2 September 1984
BBC One further blotted its copybook by buying this trash, a worthy successor to The Thorn Birds.
The US mini-series was an adaptation of a best-selling airport novel by Sydney Sheldon published two years earlier. In truth the first part of the story wasn't too bad. Ian Charleson played James McGregor, a Scottish adventurer who comes to South Africa and forms a partnership with Boer businessman Van Der Merwe ( Donald Pleasence ) to look for diamonds. When he finds them he is swindled, beaten up and left for dead in the desert. Having survived that he carries out a daring raid on a mine, escapes with booty and comes back in disguise to avenge himself including seducing and impregnating the man's daughter Margaret ( Cherie Lunghi ).
McGregor sets up a successful business and Margaret manages to become his wife by playing on paternal feelings he didn't know he had. Unfortunately their son is killed in a native rebellion and McGregor dies soon after of a stroke, leaving new baby Kate as heir to the business.
It all went a bit pear-shaped after that , starting with the grotesque sight of 47-year old Dyan Cannon as a lovesick schoolgirl marrying the supposedly much older David Maxwell ( David Birney who is actually two years younger than Cannon ). Kate turns out to be even more obsessive than her father and destroys the ambitions of her son Paul ( Harry Hamlin ) to be an artist by paying a renowned art critic ( David Suchet slumming it ) to rubbish his work. When Paul finds out he tries to kill her and so ends up in an asylum rather than running the business.
And so the focus falls on his twin daughters Eve and Alexandra ( Liane Langland ) . Eve is an evil psychopath while Alexandra is a bit dim but virtuous so it ends up becoming a contrived melodrama as Eve plots to get her sister out of the way.
You also had Jimmy Nail with a German accent in it.