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The Duchess of Duke Street

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Another potsherd unearthed in an ongoing quest for something to watch from the past – the present apparently having largely forgotten how to make decent video for the most part – The Duchess of Duke Street is a 31-episode British drama and occasional soap opera. It chronicles the life of Louisa Trotter, a fictionalized shade of one Rosa Lewis, who ran the Cavendish Hotel in Edwardian London. This one sold an awful lot of coffee mugs and tote bags for PBS back in the day.

Bulging with eccentric characters, regional accents and unlikely plots that hold together none the less, The Duchess of Duke Street is surprisingly watchable, even a quarter of a century after its original airing. Its story does seem to get a bit threadbare several episodes prior to its conclusion, and it becomes clear part way through that few of its more endearing characters are likely to get out of it alive. Its lesser installments are still worth watching for the performances therein alone.

The video quality of this set is uniquely awful, even allowing for its antiquity – one of the drawbacks to DVDs and big-screen TVs is that they show up the flaws in aging content with unrepentant clarity. Be prepared for some odd colors, video noise, a few mangled frames and visibly agitated titles.

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