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IN SPOTLIGHT

August 09, 1987|Howard Rosenberg

"BRIDESHEAD REVISITED," 8-10 p.m. Monday (13)--This time, it is we who are revisiting "Brideshead Revisited," the magnificent Granada Television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's famous book satirizing England's decadent and crumbling aristocracy.

The 11-part series originally aired on PBS in 1982. For this encore, it has been repackaged as six episodes (continuing Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m., and next Monday through Wednesday), replete with commercials. What effect that has remains to be seen.

The PBS version was something to cheer, an impeccably acted and produced story about the aristocratic Marchmains of spectacular Brideshead Castle as seen through the eyes of quiet, studious Charles Ryder (Jeremy Irons), who becomes infatuated with the family and in particular the depraved and self-destructive Lord Sebastian Flyte (Anthony Andrews).

Adapted by John Mortimer, the story runs from the 1920s to the end of World War II, and features splendid performances by Irons, Andrews and Diana Quick as Sebastian's sister, Diana. Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom and John Gielgud head a supporting cast that is consistently first-rate.

This is stunning, addictive, irresistible, romantic, inspired TV, a gorgeously mounted and detailed affair that even at its most slashingly comic produces a lingering melancholia befitting the faded colors of the lives depicted on the screen. "Brideshead Revisited" is a classic, TV at its best and mightiest.

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