The fourth presentation of Masterpiece Theatre's 1989-90 season, a four-part adaptation of Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, was so lavish an undertaking (especially for TV) that it ended up a Production of Two Cities. Part of the program was taped at London's Granada studios, while the remaining scenes were shot at the Dune Studios of France. Part One, telecast November 11, 1989, begins with the release of Dr. Manette (Jean-Pierre Aumont) from the Bastille in 1775. Five years later, dissipated attorney Sidney Carton (James Wilby) saves the life of Charles Darnay (Xavier DeLuc), the beloved of Dr. Manette's daughter Lucie (Serena Gordon). This expository installment ends with the observation that Carton and Darney closely resemble one another...and all of us who read Tale of Two Cities in high school know where this is going.
The second chapter of the four-part British/French TV adaptation of Tale of Two Cities was telecast November 18, 1989 on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre. We pick up the story with Lucie Manette (Serena Gordon) choosing to wed Charles Darnay (Xavier DeLuc). This leaves Sidney Carton (James Wilby) out in the cold, but also sets the stage for the "far far better thing" he'll do on Lucie's behalf in Part Four. Meanwhile, the seeds of the French Revolution are sown when Gaspard (Jean-Paul Tribout) avenges the death of his child at the hands of the callous nobles. Coming up in parts three and four: The storming of the Bastille, the fancy needlework of Madame DeFarge, and Sidney Carton's curtain speech at the guillotine. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi