I'm sure I'm not alone when I say: "I'll watch anything with Judi Dench." Dame Judith continues to impress with recent blockbusters like "Skyfall" and "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," but for those who would prefer a taste of her early acting, "Parade's End" is a golden opportunity.
"Parade's End," which is really three episodes of a 1960's BBC program called "Theatre 625," adapts Ford Maddox Ford's most famous novels, "Some Do Not," "No More Parades," and "A Man Could Stand Up." These novels chronicle the private tribulations of Christopher Tietjens (Ronald Hines), an Edwardian gentleman who describes himself as "The Last Tory," desperate to cleave to conservative principles that, unfortuantely for him, expired in the eighteenth century. Politically, he is forced to reconsider his restrictive principles as World War I erupts, inciting moral strife at the government agency where he works. Personally, his loyalty to his adulterous wife is tested when he falls infortuitously in love with a bright young suffragette, Miss Valentine Wannop (Judi Dench).
Parade's End is unique in that it is a wartime series that treats the main character's wartime experience as background nuisance in comparison to his inner struggle, a constantly evolving emotional turmoil that asks, "When will this charade end?" The series of three 90-minute episodes holds the audience in rapt attention with poignant dialogue and black-and-white romantic drama. Fans of "Downton Abbey" will enjoy its subtle take on the aristocratic WWI experience, and fans of Judi Dench will be stunned by her early career skill.
Recommended by Guinevere Norman