Scarlet Pimpernel: Episode I, The
Reviewed by Diane Squires
Rating: 8 Beans
t's a bit presumptuous of the folks at A&E to call this "Episode I". That would seem to imply that there will be an Episode II. Only in a less than perfect world... Episode I was more than enough, thank you.
As our story opens, one of the Pimpernel's random buddies- it's hard to distinguish who is who- is brought before members of the Evil French Revolution. His feet are bleeding all over the place , so either he's been tortured, or he has some really nasty infected ingrown toenails. The Evil French have wisely covered their nice hardwood floors with newswpapers, so they won't be damaged by all the gore. Very practical of them. Ya gotta love those Evil French.
Naturally, the Scarlet Wonder (played by Richard E. Grant) is on hand to effect a daring rescue... Well, a rescue. It was actually very dull, and involved too many supporting characters whose names I can't remember. None of them appeared to be having any fun, least of all they guy there were supposed to be saving. He dies. Some crappy rescue. Thanks for nothing Mr Damned Elusive Pimpernel.
Later, back in Jolly Old England, the Pimpernel assumes his secret identity, Sir Percy Blakeney. England is populated by another bunch of supporting characters that we just don't care about. Among them is a supremely miscast Elizabeth Mcgovern as Marguerite, Blakeney's unbelievably dumpy, dull, ex-French wife. When Evil Frenchie Chauvelin (Martin Shaw) arrives to enlist her in his plot to capture the Scarlet Menace, one can't help but wonder what he expects her to do. Corner the Elusive One in a dark room and bore him to death?
Well, whatever Chauvelin has in mind, Marguerite will have to do it. While we were laughing at Sir Percy's British "wit", Chauvelin has been killing off all the extras from scene 1 and he's captured Marguerite's brother. Indeed, Marguerite's beloved sibling is one of the anonymous supporting guys we forgot all about. Who knew? Who cares. The Pimpernel does, and he off to France to troll through all the brothels in Paris in search of "information". Marguerite soon follows, and is captured about thirty seconds after she steps off Le Greyhound Bus. You see, she's finally figured out that her husband is the Pimpernel. I skipped her revelation scene, but let me sum it up for you- well, DUH, Marguerite!!!
I'd like to say that the plot picked up for the big conclusion, but that would be a big lie. It didn't get any better. I stopped paying attention. I really can't say for sure how it all came out. All I can say is, it was a happy ending. I was happy because it was ending.
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