Oliver’s Travels (review)
Oh, how glorious to find a TV miniseries that’s this delightfully grown-up! That it’s also charming, erudite, and witty is the icing on the cake. Laid-off professor of comparative religion Oliver (a rumpled, scrumptious Alan Bates: Spartacus), a fan of wordplay and jazz, teams up with vivacious policewoman Diane (a lovely Sinéad Cusack) to find the enigmatic master crossword-puzzle creator “Aristotle,” a journey that takes them across the gorgeous English countryside to Scotland and the Orkney Islands, through landscapes steeped in history and legend. The mystery expands to include murder, scandal, and corrupt law enforcement, and Oliver and Diane of course fall in love, their relationship an achingly romantic one in which the meeting of the minds is as sexy as hell. (Oliver lists for Diane the “worldly goods” he brings to the relationship: “a little house in South Wales full of books, records, and compact discs.” Anyone who finds that a wonderful recommendation for the man will adore this five-episode series.) It’s all as modern as it can be, with a helicopter attack and clues obtained via computer hacking, but it harkens back to the sophisticated romantic comedies of the 1930s and ’40s, too. The combination couldn’t be more delicious.