This is the first episode of a four part miniseries done for British television in 1979. It adapts Daphne Du Maurier’s classic novel with a little more breathing room than Hitchcock had. This first episode is a great example of that, probably the best of all four episodes. This episode focuses on the meeting of the Narrator and Maxim in Monte Carlo and their slow and strange courtship. You really get to feel the relationship develop and you also get some development of side characters, like the rich American woman that the Narrator travels with as a companion. There’s a great scene between the Narrator and the American woman after Max asks the Narrator to marry him. The best thing about the episode is Jeremy Brett’s great performance as Max; he’s haunted here, but not frightening and loads better than Olivier was in the original film. The couple only arrive at Manderlay in the very last scene in the episode, so we spend about fifty minutes on something the first film barely touched on, so you can see the benefit of the added time here. The episode also does a great intro of Mrs. Danvers, revealing her first as only a shadow at the edge of the frame. Visual quality: poor. But otherwise, this is a good first episode, though surely too languid for some. 3 stars.
tl;dr – British miniseries spends entire first episode setting up the main characters from Du Maurier’s Rebecca; the added time gives time for added depth. 3 stars.