"Love in a Cold Climate" is a little misleading when it comes to the title. While it does partially adapt Nancy Mitford's novel of the same name, it also draws upon the other book in the series "The Pursuit of Love," to deliver character drama fans a nearly seven-hour miniseries featuring a quite noteworthy cast of British actors, with Judi Dench being the most prominently advertised. The series chronicles the intertwined lives of the Radlett's and the Montdore's in early 20th century England. The saga wastes no time establishing what it is and what it isn't and viewers who aren't hooked by the end of the first (of eight) episodes, are probably best advised to call it a day there. "Love in a Cold Climate" is more a minor character study than a tightly woven web of intrigue. While I haven't read either of the source novels, I had the strong feeling like those who had, would enjoy the program much more if only for being able to more accurately track who's who.
The cast of colorful characters is relayed to viewers through Fanny (Isabelle Aymes) the cousin of Polly Hampton (Rosalyn Landor) one of the series' most prominent characters whose growth can be tough to follow but is nonetheless fascinating at times. The final key character is Linda Radlett (Lucy Gutterdidge), Polly's friend and Fanny's cousin. The series does a fine job of keeping viewers intertwined in the characters' lives and to the credit of the actresses embodying the roles, the resulting performances are believable and more than acceptable, however there's a definite sense of confusion at times that easily evolves into a sense of tedium for viewers. At it's most basic core, "Love in a Cold Climate" simultaneous suffers from being too long and too short; the latter a side effect of trying to squeeze two novels into one adaptation. Although, it's a far cry better than what I'd imagine the anemically timed two-hour or so 2001 adaptation must be like.
The biggest issue I had as a viewer was the fact so much goes on and characters come and go, that unless I practically devoured all seven hours in a day, I'd constantly be distracted trying to remember every little character development that occurred previously. Thankfully, the themes of love and self-discovery are earnestly conveyed to the point where the dense narrative and relaxed pace don't completely undermine the end product. Although not apparent at first "Love in a Cold Climate" is a mini-epic of sorts and a testament to the bravery of a filmmaker willing to let things unfold at a natural pace for the sake of genuine character development. It's not a series with a high or frequent replay value, but it's definitely one worth checking out, for fans of the genre.
The 1.33:1 original aspect ratio transfer looks like your typical shot-on-video British drama. Colors are washed out, detail peaks at average on occasion, and there are artifacts from the source material. It looks a little worse for wear than one might expect from an 80s production, but nothing is so bad it's hard on the eyes.
The Dolby Digital English stereo audio track ages a little better, with generally clear dialogue, despite an overall, vaguely hollow sound at the core. English SDH subtitles are included.
"Love in a Cold Climate" isn't for everyone, especially those wanting quickly paced character developments. It has its own pace and gets to places when it sees fit. Although the technical presentation is far from stellar, this set is a nice addition to fans of the material or the most devoted of British period dramas. Recommended.