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`IVANHOE' MINISERIES A MEDIEVAL MASTERPIECE : THE FACTS.

Byline: Kinney Littlefield Orange County Register

I've always been a fool for chain mail - the lushly romantic, Lancelot and Guinevere variety, that is.

So, A&E's six-hour medieval miniseries ``Ivanhoe'' was an easy, obvious sell.

It is also a miniseries so marvelously acted, so meticulously produced, so full of passion, humor and valor that it overshadows A&E icon ``Pride and Prejudice.''

Heresy? Watch and see. Just give yourself an hour or so to settle into ``Ivanhoe's'' big cast and interwoven intrigues.

Set in late 12th-century England, ``Ivanhoe'' is based on the richly romantic 1819 novel by Sir Walter Scott. It follows Saxon knight Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe (Steven Waddington) as he returns home from the Third Crusade in Palestine.

Merry Olde England is pretty much a mess. Prince John (Ralph Brown) has stolen the throne from King Richard (Rory Edwards). Ruling Normans, conquered Saxons and fierce Christian warriors called the Knights Templar are all spoiling for power. And everyone hates the Jews.

Pretty soon, Ivanhoe, Rowena and Ivanhoe's father, Cedric, are kidnapped, and much sword and stave carnage ensues. And Ivanhoe falls for Jewish healer Rebecca (Susan Lynch), a love that is taboo.

Formulaic ``Camelot'' fluff? No way. This ``Ivanhoe'' has sharp 20th-century social bite, thanks to expert direction by Stuart Orme. Costumes and settings are meticulous and enchanting. Turns by Lynch, Brown, Edwards, Ciaran Hinds as Knight Templar Brian de Bois-Guilbert - and many more - are top flight. And the poignancy of thwarted love, duty and sacrifice will haunt you long after ``Ivanhoe'' ends.

The show: ``Ivanhoe.''

The stars: Susan Lynch and Ralph Brown.

When: 5 and 9 p.m. today, 6 and 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday on A&E.

Our rating: four stars
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review; L.A. Life
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 20, 1997
Words:287
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