I’ve been a little sentimental, reminiscent of late, and so have been trawling through DVD shops in search of favourites. I picked up a copy of “Shirley Valentine” recently, and just the other night, a very cheap copy of “Suddenly Last Summer”, the classic movie featuring Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift and Katherine Hepburn. I also picked up a copy of “Tales Of The City, which I’ve watched many times over the last ten years from my old copy recorded off the tv many years ago.

I first read the books many years ago while recovering from my emergency appendectomy, loaned to me by my friend Claire. As I had over a week in hospital, I found they had just the right amount of humour, intrigue and sauciness to get me through my agony. “Oh that’s outrageous”, I thought, reading about the lives of Mary-Ann, Michael, Dee-Dee, Beauchamp etc.

And then it wasn’t until about five years ago that I bought the books and read them in almost a week or so. By this time I’d seen the terrific American television series, starring Thomas Gibson, Laura Linney and others, which had no doubt informed my “reading” of the books.

Perhaps that’s why I feel the series is such an accurate and faithful interpretation of the books? Or perhaps it’s because I have seen the series so many times that I can’t imagine anyone else but Laura Linney as Mary-Ann or Thomas Gibson as Beauchamp. And Olympia Dukakas IS Anna Madrigal.

Michael and Mary-Ann
Michael and Mary-Ann

You genuinely believe the relationship with Edgar and Anna, and the sadness and joy they experience with their “limited time” leading to his death. You also genuinely believe the sadness of Edgar’s wife who drinks far too much and whose only friends are her daughter and her housemaid. You also genuinely believe Mary-Ann’s innocence, tinged with a fast-tracked wisdom.

Although the plotline is sometimes a little unbelievable in the real world – Mary Ann making friends with the raincoat wearing child pornographer living on the roof who plunges to his death, for example – it all makes sense within the program.

However, sometimes the 70s references – the clothing, the smiley sticker on Mary-Ann’s suitcase, the sets – are a little too cheesy for my liking.

But really, it’s the acting that makes this such a wonderful series. It’s so good I’ve just watched it again this weekend, the perfect accompaniment for an overcast day in Sydney.

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