Friday, February 15, 1991
Copyright 1991


TNT captures the intrigue of ‘Catherine’

Julia Ormond plays the title role in TNT’s “Young Catherine,” premiering at 7 p.m. Sunday and Monday on local cable systems.

Young Catherine
3 stars

Filmed on location in Leningrad for cable’s TNT, this lavish “Young Catherine” concentrates on the Cinderella aspects of the story. The lovely Julia Ormond plays Catherine with a subtle combination of girlish charm, intelligence and steely ambition. Although the real empress was an unattractive woman famous for her many lovers, Ormond’s Catherine is a pure-hearted maid driven into a lover’s arms by her sadistic and childish husband, Peter, played with grand nastiness by British actor Reece Dinsdale.

The first part of the program will premiere from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday on TNT: the second half is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. Monday. “Young Catherine” will be repeated at 9 p.m. Sunday (Part I) and Monday (Part II) and again at 11 a.m. Feb. 21 (Parts I and II) and at 1 p.m. Feb. 24 (Parts I and II).

Although it never has the pompous gait of a “Masterpiece Theatre” production, Part I drags a bit in bringing Catherine to the Russian court. Things pick up considerably in Part II, as Catherine gets worldlier. Peter gets kinkier and the courtly intrigue erupts into full-scale war.

With its elaborate costuming and name actors (Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Plummer, Franco Nero, Marthe Keller and Maximillian Schell), TNT’s production, directed by Michael Anderson, is almost as spectacular as the real Catherine’s story.