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William and Mary: The Complete Collection

Release Year:        2003 – 2005
Studio:        Acorn Media
Format:        Colour; NTSC
Rated:        Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:        6 / 18
Running Time:        14.5 Hours Plus Bonus
DVD Release Date:        March 25, 2014
Creators:        Mick Ford
Screenwriter:        Mick Ford
Directors:        Jean Stewart, Matthew Evans, Stuart Ormee, Nick Laughland, Coky Giedroyc, Hettie Macdonald, Sandy Johnson
Actors:        Martin Clunes, Julie Graham
DVD Features:        CC; Wide Screen
E:Top Picks Rating:        9 / 10

Studio Write-up:    
She brings people into the world, he ushers them out–but for this unconventional pair, love is the greatest journey of all. Martin Clunes (Doc Martin, Shakespeare in Love) and Julie Graham (The Bletchley Circle) are the slightly jaded (but ever hopeful) couple looking to finally get it right in this addictive British dramedy.

William Shawcross is a widowed undertaker whose profession has kept women at arm’s length. Mary Gilcrest is a no-nonsense midwife who has little time to muck about with romance. From the minute they meet, the demands of family and their unpredictable professions keep things complicated. But they find that, like birth and death, love is a force that won’t be denied.

This complete collection contains all three series of the deftly written drama, nominated for numerous U.K. television awards. Guest stars include Michael Fassbender, Annette Crosbie, Saskia Wickham, Russell Tovey, and Miranda Hart.

BONUS Cast interview (40 min.)

Jon Ted Wynne Review:  
Fans of Martin Clunes will be over the moon about the release of WILLIAM & MARY. Clunes is a dynamic actor of considerable range, capable of playing cold-hearted characters (like Doc Martin) and the guy you’d like to have as your next door neighbour, (as in this show). The premise of the series gives Clunes the opportunity to do everything he does well: play subtle comedy, be poignant, be a staunch representative of middle-class values, all the while displaying remarkable sensitivity and likeability.

Julie Graham as Mary is also exceptionally good, but her character’s occasional instability, while dramatically interesting, is a bit hard to believe. Nonetheless the chemistry between these two actors is wonderful to behold. From the bonus interview it is clear they are good friends, having known each other and worked together (Dirty Tricks, also available from Acorn Media).

Their central relationship is at the heart of the series, though ironically it proves to be lacking in one important aspect: there is no moral centre to their relationship. While other characters marry and find their own stability through trial and commitment, William and Mary remain in a curious state of relationship limbo. Will they be fine until Mary has her next emotional crisis?

Similarly, the bed hopping, drug use and teenage sexual encounters depicted are never commented upon. Are William and Mary blind to these goings on, or are they reflecting a “new morality”?

Despite this flaw in an otherwise brilliant show, WILLIAM & MARY will satisfy viewers interested in romance and (in Clunes’ case) very appealing characters. The writing, apart from the occasionally absent parenting skills, is remarkable and the pacing and editing of the show really conveys the semi-madness of living in William and Mary’s household. Secondary characters almost steal the show away from the leads, particularly Cheryl Campbell as Mary’s free-spirited mother and her boyfriend Rick, brilliantly played by Michael Begley. Mention must also be made of Paterson Joseph who plays the father to Mary’s two children. His Reuben manages the difficult task of being repulsive to begin with but ultimately someone you root for. These are classic examples of character development and one of the strongest aspects of the series.

Some of the guest stars are a revelation as well, including the brilliant Michael Fassbender and a little-know character actor named Peter MacQueen, whose comic brilliance is used to great effect. Why this outstanding actor has not had a more prominent career is anyone’s guess. The injustices of the profession, I suppose.

WILLIAM & MARY is highly satisfying entertainment. Try not to be put off by a rather weak conclusion. There is much to savour and enjoy here.

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