The Irish R.M.: Series 1 (review)

It’s one of the most anticipated selections from Masterpiece Theater to hit DVD, and it was well worth the wait. In 1897, British army major Sinclair Yeates (Peter Bowles) resigns his commission to accept the post of Resident Magistrate in West Ireland, and while his beloved Philippa (Doran Godwin) is happy to make the move from London with him, life in the Irish countryside isn’t quite what he was expecting. The six one-hour installments follow the increasingly befuddled Yeates as he fumbles his way through local custom and blunders his way through local society, which includes his leprechaun-like landlord, Flurry Knox (Bryan Murray), and his steamroller of a cook and housekeeper, Mrs. Cadogan (Anna Manahan). If there’s a bit too much of Lucky Charms tweeness to the depiction of Ireland and the Irish, well, upper-class English twits get their share of sending up, too, and there’s nary a hint of the nasty politics of the period to weigh down the gentle, if slow-moving, farce. Unlike the typical BBC production of the era — this dates from 1983 — R.M. was shot completely on film (the practice then was to shoot interiors on video), and the image, apart from an occasional piece of debris flittering by, retains the original warmth of the lush Country Kildare locations. (A few moments of lost fidelity mar the soundtrack, but it’s hardly a major distraction.) Extras include a making-of featurette.

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