North and South, Book 1 (1985)

What Herman Wouk is to World War II miniseries, John Jakes is to Civil War miniseries, and that would be the inspiration to make the heftiest movies devoted to the subject.  Herman Wouk managed about 40 hours out of two novels, but John Jakes had three novels and got less time (let’s be fair–World War II went on longer).  That turns out to be a plus in favor of the Jakes works because they aren’t as chewy as the Wouk miniseries.

“North and South” is far less sophisticated than anything Wouk came up with and it’s basically just romance-during-wartime dressed up in great finery, but not all the finery is false plumage like so many similar miniseries.  “North and South” follows all miniseries rules, but in one particular case, it towers above all the rest: slumming movie stars!  “North and South” gets the biggest of them all in Elizabeth Taylor for one scene, crowded into a cast that also includes Robert Mitchum, Hal Holbrook, Jean Simmons and Inga Swenson.

However, cast-wise it’s really about the not-yet-famous Patrick Swayze and the never-quite-made-it James Read and Lesley-Anne Down.  They handles themselves quite well, James and Lesley-Anne in particular.  Strong acting is essential to the success of “North and South” because it helps us get through the plodding story and over-familiar history (a lesson most of the actors in the Wouk miniseries seemed never to understand).  We’ve already been through “The Blue and The Gray,” which is a similar story, but without the regal trappings of “North and South,” which relies on them a bit too much.  “The Blue and The Gray” is far more efficient storytelling, but “North and South” is a great big affair, not interested in being efficient or dainty.

One TV critic at the time called this miniseries “the ‘Gone With the Wind’ of television.”  That’s not an unfair comparison if, like me, you find “Gone With the Wind” a bit hokey and on the soapy side, with some truly ridiculous moments.  It’s also not unfair because both aimed to be the biggest of historical fiction pieces possible.  Let’s face it, if “Gone With the Wind” had been written a few decades later, it would have been a TV miniseries.  But, that’s not the order of events, so John Jakes was able to sneak in a far more aggressive few books than Margaret Mitchell and he gets all the hours devoted to his.  No, Patrick Swayze and Lesley-Anne Down are no Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, Olivia Cole is not Hattie McDaniel (she’s better, frankly), Genie Francis is no Olivia de Havilland, but none of that matters much alongside epic storytelling done so well.

We start in 1842, Charleston, South Carolina.  To show how rich Patrick Swayze’s family is, we first see his sisters skipping through the entire row of shacks where the slaves live, not even noticing the poor souls as they make merriment.  Anyway, Patrick is leaving and the house staff is gathered to send him off to West Point.  Mama Jean Simmons and Papa Mitchell Ryan are there, and those too plucky little sisters.  How Jean Simmons had two daughters under 10 by the grace of nature is never quite explained.  Or, for that matter, is the insane age disparity between Patrick and his little sisters.

Patrick is riding off at a comfortable gallop, when nearby a carriage loses its horses.  Patrick goes over to rescue the inhabitants, but there is a snake in the overturned carriage, which Patrick bravely tosses off with a parasol.  Immediately taking note of his presence are slave Olivia Cole (in her umpteenth miniseries appearance) and her mistress, Lesley-Anne Down.  As Lesley-Anne tries to explain herself, Patrick just stares at her, having obviously just met the love of his life.  He volunteers to escort her.  “I haven’t told you where we’re going,” Lesley-Anne wisely says, lashes batting.  Naturally, she is headed to a neighboring plantation, so Patrick scoops her up on his horse to take her there.  With a Creole accent as big as her raised eyebrow, Olivia watches in disbelief, probably more because they have left her standing there alone (with some vague promise of sending someone along for her and the luggage), but she would be flat-out laughing if she watched Lesley-Anne maneuver Patrick on their slow ride through the bountiful woods.  “Oops, I dropped something she says,” all but throwing a hanky off the horse.  Patrick dismounts to get it and they kiss.  “I’ve never met anyone like you…I’d be honored if you’d write me at the military academy,” Patrick says, smitten faster than anyone in the South even talks, let alone falls in love.

Lesley-Anne’s father Lee Bergere, is already at the appointed plantation destination, walking around it with David Carradine, who offers a julep to Lee when Patrick comes riding along with Lesley-Anne.  She tells the harrowing story of the carriage, and Patrick, running his hands through his long lustrous hair like it was a shampoo commercial, adds, “anybody would have done the same thing.”

A few days later, Patrick arrives in New York City, where manners are obviously a thing of the past, the carriage driver simply tossing his luggage off the carriage.  A bunch of toughs push him around and insist on carrying his baggage to the depot…for $2.  Patrick is forced to fight them, but it’s many against one, so he’s losing until James Read helps him, the two cracking wise as they dispense with the thugs.  “I had no idea this trip would be so eventful,” Patrick tells James.  He ain’t kidding!  In less than 20 minutes, he’s rescued a woman, killed a snake, fallen in love and now met the Irish.

“You’re my first damn Yankee!” Patrick says on the train as he and Patrick admit each is the first Northern/Southern man he has met.  Just so we’re clear that Patrick is a good guy, he adds, “some of us think slavery is outdated.”  He also believes “mechanization is the key to the future,” convenient since James’ family owns an ironworks, but all of that will have to wait until after military school.  James has yearned forever to be a soldier and isn’t worried about West Point, though Patrick fears the hazing and the “book learning.”  James rips a $10 bill in half, to be returned by Patrick with a fresh $10 bill when he graduates.  You can already picture the scene, long in the future, when this happens.

Back in Charleston, David is guaranteeing that President Tyler will wage war against Mexico over Texas.  “I encourage my daughter to read and question, sir.  She has an excellent mind,” Lee tells David as Lesley-Anne shows her knowledge of world politics.  David isn’t interested in her mind, but her cleavage sure seems inviting.

“It’s like I always knew it would be…only better!” James says like he’s discovered Santa’s workshop, when really it’s just West Point, with the cadets going through drills like cutting fruit in half with swords.  James, Patrick and the rest of the newbies, each with no more than a small chest to contain two year’s worth of belongings, are told by the cadet they encounter that they are “things,” rather than plebes.  Roommate Andy Stahl is mighty angry to meet a man who owns slaves and tries to force Patrick out of the room.  You see, Andy’s pa owns a small tobacco farm and because it’s in the North and he has no slaves, he can’t compete with Patrick’s “kind.”  Luckily, James steps in again to moderate the situation, keeping tempers from bubbling over.

Literally seconds after Lesley-Anne tells David that Olivia is a free woman and her father does not believe in slavery, a slave pouring her coffee spills it.  Lesley-Anne apologizes to the slave and goes to change, leaving David to belt the poor girl across the face.  As if his angry faces and pushy demeanor haven’t given us enough clues, he’s officially the heavy.

The drillmaster at West Point is hunky Philip Casnoff, who wastes no time in revealing his personality by lambasting Andy for not believing in slavery and Patrick for apparently believing South Carolina men are better than those from Georgia.  James is not at all cowed by Philip, managing to be snide enough to force Philip to seethe, while Patrick works hard to stifle a laugh.  “I shall use you to demonstrate a fundamental principle of marching, sir,” Philip snaps at James, ordering him and Patrick to step forward and hold two buckets full of water at 90-degree angles to their bodies and kick their legs like Rockettes without spilling any of the water.  Patrick takes to it naturally, being a graceful dancer, of course, but James has a tougher time with this idiotic drill.  Philip keeps them going for a very long time, and it’s Patrick who is the first to fall.  Only the intervention of Philip’s superior ends the exercise.  Not just any superior, by the way, but Sam Grant, otherwise known to history as Ulysses.  In fact, nearly every famous Civil War general happens to be a part of the little clique, including Jackson and McClellan.

Patrick Swayze fans can rejoice.  He gets a shirtless scene, but only briefly to write a letter.  James is also shirtless, but covered by a blanket and asleep.  I don’t think anyone is really waiting for his shirtless scene, no offense.  The letter is, of course, intended for Lesley-Anne.  He writes to her that the training his hell, but thinking of her gets him through it.  Her Papa tells her that David is coming to town and she says she’ll make sure he is wonderfully welcomed.  “Of course, Papa, he’s your friend!” she says, causing Lee to turn away in dismay, his otherwise brilliant daughter not having caught onto the fact that she’s being set up for matrimony.

“You hold your saber like a ho, sir,” Philip rails at poor Andy, who is not much of a soldier.  Philip seems to take great pleasure in attacking poor Andy.  “On the battlefield, you’d be cut to ribbons…and rightly so!  You, sir, are the sorriest excuse for a soldier I’ve ever seen,” Philip snaps, cutting Andy in the neck for good measure and then turning his fury to Patrick.  Patrick’s tresses flow in the wind as he shows Philip what a great swordsman can do, much to Philip’s obvious dismay.  Patrick soon knocks Philip down and the intercession of Sam Grant, again, stops an imminent smack-down between the two.

As time passes, Lesley-Anne mopes because Patrick has stopped writing to him.  A stern lecture from Olivia doesn’t help matters as Lesley-Anne whimpers, but David arrives, hot for her.  When he tells her to call him by his first name, she’s not happy.  He’s brought her a gift, a music box with a unicorn on it.  She forgets how much she dislikes the man because “I just love surprises,” and like a true dimwit daughter of the times, she only needs a new toy to amuse her.

Patrick is in a snit too, because he’s not taking to the book learning part of being a cadet, but James realizes Patrick isn’t upset over facts and figures.  Patrick hasn’t had a letter from Lesley-Anne in a long time either.  But, before we can get too far into that fluff, Andy announces he has to leave West Point because his father has had an accident and he has to now run the farm.  “If there’s anything we can do…” Patrick offers, being a gentleman, only to get another one of Andy anti-slave owner tirades.  “You can save your sympathy and go to the bank with all your money,” Andy snaps at Patrick.  Geez, didn’t he get the note that Patrick is deep-down against slavery?

James decides to take Patrick off-campus to the local tavern, even though he and Patrick “have more demerits than anyone else,” but James says no one would go out on a cold winter night.  Naturally, Philip spies them leaving the barracks.  Patrick has a plan to keep Andy at West Point.  He and James will give him their allowances as a loan.  NOW we can get back to the silly stuff, Patrick’s huff at not hearing from Lesley-Anne.  Oops, conversation interrupted again because Philip is following them and they are forced to run through the snow to avoid him.  Philips falls through a hole in the ice.  “That ought to slow him down,” James says, ready to leave him there, but of course Patrick is way too heroic a character to let that happen and he saves Philip’s life.  Philip is anything but pleased, “and that gracious thank you made it all worth it,” James sarcastically notes.  Patrick has developed a terrible cough from his exposure to the elements.  He begs Philip to let him go to the infirmary, but permission is denied and he’s given extra guard duty instead.  I bet Philip hates kittens too.  That’s about the only thing that would make him more evil.

Who comes to Patrick’s rescue as he’s collapsing in the cold?  Yup, Grant.  He offers to have Patrick relieved of the duty, but Patrick refuses, which shows Grant how tough our Patrick really is before he falls face down in the snow.  Luckily, Grant doesn’t listen to Patrick and sends relief, making sure Patrick ends up in the infirmary.  James and Andy visit him, joking about awful Philip, but Andy also has to apologize to Patrick for thinking so lowly about Southerners because he’s accepted the loan.  What about letters from Lesley-Anne?  Patrick coughs too much to say more than a word about it.

Eighteen months later, James takes Patrick home to meet his family, most notably father John Anderson, mother Inga Swenson and sister Kirstie Alley.  “Do you keep slaves…are you evil?” Kirstie asks Patrick upon meeting him.  She’s a staunch abolitionist, believing it’s “God’s truth,” though her family taunts her for her views.  Patrick finds the ironworks “a revelation.”  He also sees the workers there, living in squalor.  “At least our workers have a choice,” James tries to offer, defending his system, not much better than slavery.  “I guess there’s room for improvement on both sides,” James says, since it’s impossible for these two to ever disagree.  “That’s why I want to learn from you Yankees,” Patrick replies, still eager to open a factory in the South to make the cotton industry more efficient.  Talk of war with Mexico comes up at the dinner table, with Kirstie obviously against it, and everyone dropping Presidential names like Polk and Taylor, as if that makes the writing smarter.  James just hopes he and Patrick “don’t graduate too late to miss it.”  Kirstie goes wild ripping into Patrick about slavery, even leaving the table!  Yes, folks, Kirstie Alley walked away from a meal.

Finally, after two years, Patrick can return to home, but he stops in Charleston to see Lesley-Anne first, never having forgotten his love for her despite their lack of letter trading.  No one answers the door when he shows up, told by a passing peddler that the house has been closed for a week (the week it took Patrick to get back from Pennsylvania, FYI).  So, Patrick trots off to see his own family.  Oh, he remembers them, how lovely.  Patrick tells his obviously ailing father about his ideas.  “We can’t ignore progress…every year, the South counts for less on a national level, because we cling to manual labor,” Patrick tries to teach his dad, but not sounding particularly convincing.  To make the slavery matter worse, the new overseer (Tony Frank), whips the slaves, which Patrick says “we don’t do” at his plantation.  He shames the overseer in front of the entire slave population.  Uh oh, another enemy for Patrick!  But, Tony’s actions are defended by his father, though their arguments are ended by Mama Jean announcing that they are invited to a wedding.  Who is getting married?  Well Lesley-Anne, of course…to David!  Lesley-Anne is a most miserable bride, hesitating on the “i do” portion of the wedding, and only getting it out a second before Patrick rides up to see he’s too late (and to see David plant a really creepy kiss on his new wife).

After gulping down a glass of wine, Patrick confronts Lee, who tells him he’s the one who arranged the marriage, and Patrick rushes to leave.  Lesley-Anne catches him on the way out and both reveal they have been writing to each other the whole time.  “Papa, it was Papa!  He destroyed your letters,” she finally realizes.  A heart-broken Patrick returns the handkerchief she once gave him as David arrives to pull her away, making a snide remark to Patrick as he does.  Lesley-Anne, also upset, has it worse: she has to face David and her wedding night.  “You’re always so distant, but not tonight,” David drunkenly says and then rips her wedding dress off her in order to rape his way into the marital bed.  Once David passes out, Lesley-Anne takes the handkerchief Patrick has returned to her and slides down the wall crying.  Patrick is at his plantation having…oh no…another glass of wine!  Thus ends the first portion.

Back to West Point, still 1844.  Patrick is not performing at his usual level, either on the field or in the classroom, because his mind is still occupied with having lost Lesley-Anne.  “It’s impossible.  She’s out of your reach now,” James tells him.  His solution for his friend’s gloom is to send him to the local whore.  Nope, that doesn’t work either.  Olivia has the same advice for Lesley-Anne: “what good is it, remembering?”  But, there’s no male hooker for Lesley-Anne.  She only has David.  “What kind of man is he?” Olivia hisses when they hear David returning.  Duh!  That’s why Lesley-Anne is so doubly upset.

Philip has had to pull back on his nasty antics toward Patrick and James, under the protection of upper classmen, but Andy is under no such protection, so that’s just where Philip directs his ire.  He sends Andy out on a riding course on the horse Satan, all but a death ride since Andy is terrible on even the easiest of horses.  When Andy falls off the horse and tumbles away, Philip sends his horse back alone and coos, “good boy” to Satan.  Andy is injured from head to toe, but he refuses to name Philip for fear of retaliation.

However, the men at West Point aren’t stupid (well, okay, not all of them) and the powers-that-be haul Philip into a tribunal, where he out and out lies and they are forced to believe him.  So, James forges a plan to have one of Philip’s superiors catch him with that same local whore.  It works, he’s caught by his superiors, but the whore spills James’ name, so you can bet there will be all sorts of vengeance in Philip’s mind, especially since he’s been “dismissed from this Academy…You two have conspired to rob me of a military career…Let me tell you this, I have friends in high places and one day, I will be highly placed, very highly placed, and you be on your guard because I won’t forget you two.  I won’t forget you to ever,” the charming SOB rails at Patrick and James before he is banished.  Patrick warns that they will have to be on their guard.  “How long,” James wonders aloud, “the rest of our lives?”  I’m afraid so, kiddo.  That’s the way bad guys in miniseries work.  They live forever, just to spite the heroes any chance they get.

Two years pass and our boys are graduating.  James hasn’t forgotten his bet with Patrick and Patrick pays up, even though he graduated near the bottom of their class, “and you pulled me up every inch of the way,” Patrick thankfully says.  James has graduated at the top, but picked the infantry so he can go to Mexico with his pals.

There’s a huge party at the mansion that is certainly no Tara.  Proud Papa Mitchell hosts the fete, in honor of both Patrick and James.  There is no North-South hatred with James around, thankfully.  I guess that’s because everyone is too busy hating the Mexicans to hate each other.  Even the dialogue is cut-rate “Gone With the Wind.”  “Oh, fee!” one of Patrick’s little sisters grunts when told it’s time for her nap.  David and Lesley-Anne show up for the party and James connives to have the would-be lovers spend some time alone.  “You don’t love him.  You are not his,” Patrick says.  “I could never be yours,” Lesley-Anne responds.  Yes, we’ve covered that now…a few times.

I spoke too soon.  There is some North-South bitterness, naturally coming from the mouth of David.  He is the first to speak of the dreaded secession, but book-rearded Lesley-Anne quiets the entire house when she tells everyone that the South “can’t survive on speeches,” since the industry is all up North, but David shuts her up in front of everyone, dragging her outside.  Lesley-Anne believes she’s “entitled to my own views,” but David sneers that she’s not allowed to have a thought outside of his.  “If you ever speak out and embarrass me on any subject, every again, you will suffer as you have never suffered before,” he warns, grabbing her face.  It’s the same prophesy of doom that Philip basically issued.  Let’s hope the two of them never get together because so far we don’t have two other men to complete the quartet needed to make up the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  Patrick follows Lesley-Anne down to the river and begs her to meet him at an abandoned church the next day.

Mitchell is forced to have the overseer “take care” of a slave who got drunk because he saw the overseer trying to mack on his girl.  James is horrified at the thought of what will happen to David Harris David Harris, and Patrick warns him not to do anything.  “You are a guest in my father’s house and don’t you forget it,” he warns.  Wait, isn’t this the same Patrick who told the overseer there was to be no more physical abuse of the slaves?  Priam is branded, and now Patrick does indeed yell at his father for allowing it.  Hmmm, that’s awfully inconsistent, isn’t it?

Forget slavery, Patrick has his rendezvous with Lesley-Anne and shows up for it in a cape, like the hero of a French novel.  Lesley-Anne is already there, dressed in black, always the color to use when meeting your heart’s desire.  They go through the usual, “I love you but we can’t be together” round of dialogue we could expect from this type of scene.  Two people with hair as perfect as these cannot be separated forever and they kiss.  When Lesley-Anne pulls away, she says, “I want it as much as you do, but if we were lovers, you would never be free.”  I’m not sure that makes complete sense, for a Southern man could certainly have a mistress, and if they were careful to hide their love from David, they could manage it.  Ah, well, we have hours and hours left to worry about them.

“I’m not sure they could care for themselves.  They are like children,” Patrick tells James when James explodes about the ills of slavery again.  Patrick’s take on the whole branding episode is that the slave “shamed my father” and had to be punished.  Patrick is in a foul mood and he doesn’t back down on slavery this time.  “We are sick and tired of Yankees coming down and telling us how to run our lives…this is our way of life, it has been for over a hundred year,” Patrick notes.  Only one hundred years?  No wonder this kid was second from the bottom in school.  He also takes the opportunity to remind James about the shanty folks used as workers in his Northern factory.  “We are good friends and if we want to keep that friendship, there are certain things we can never say to each other, certain things we can never talk about, Patric chides dramatically.  James diffuses the situation by noting, as I did earlier, “we’re supposed to be fighting Mexicans, not each other.”

Philip goes to one of his powerful friends, Senator Charles Edwards (Gene Kelly, yes, that Gene Kelly, in one of his trademark toupees) of Ohio, to arrange a commission for him in the Mexican War.  Philip is Charles’ illegitimate son.  “I’ve paid dearly for that mistake,” Charles tells Philip when he reminds him of that fact.  Philip agrees to keep the secret if Charles gets him the commission.  Those of you who like to take your miniseries characters in for a bit of analysis will certainly make the connection between Philip being the bastard son of a powerful man who never knew his own mother and the anger with which he abuses the world.  Those of you who don’t like to take your miniseries characters in for a bit of analysis will wonder what the hell Gene Kelly is doing in “North and South.”

It’s the Battle of Churubusco, 1847.  It’s fought initially in slow motion, but finally returns to normal speed when we see our leading men involved.  James and Patrick order their men behind a protective wall to fight, but it’s too late for some and the casualty count is high.  Amid the carnage, Philip shows up as the commanding officers, saying “this is the reunion I promised you gentlemen” before sending Patrick on a crazy scout.  James dares to intercede, so he gets sent along.  They have no choice but to obey.  Philip watches with glee as Patrick and James are forced to confront the Mexican Army up close.  Back in slow motion, a cannonball explodes near Patrick and he’s wounded.  James throws him over his shoulder and carries him to safety, with Philip clearly miffed.

Our second legend in ten minutes is Robert Mitchum as an Army doctor who steps in when another doctor says Patrick’s leg has to be cut off.  Wait, isn’t Robert in the wrong war?  Looking dazed as ever, I don’t think he realizes he’s not Pug Henry from “Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance.”  He hears gunfire, he stands up straight.  That’s all Robert Mitchum could do by this point in his career.

Six months later, Patrick is still hospitalized, but with two legs.  James goes to visit him, but Patrick is out of it and doesn’t realize his best friend is there.  As if James isn’t stressed enough, his presence at a party that night to celebrate the Armistice is required.  It’s a good thing he goes because it’s here he spots Wendy Kilbourne, a very pretty blond girl and goes all stupid for love at first sight (not as stupid as Patrick or Lesley-Anne because he’s smarter).  Before he can get a dance with Wendy, he thanks Robert Mitchum for helping Patrick.  “It just takes a long time, a wound like that,” Robert tells James about Patrick’s health, doing so with an Irish brogue.  Guess what?  Wendy is Robert’s daughter!  So, because he lives James, he sneakily conspires to get James a dance by spilling all over Wendy’s companion.  Wendy’s attempt to be fiery and castigate him for slipping into the dance is thwarted by the big smile on her face.

James goes a-courtin’, a dinner arranged by Robert, who purposely didn’t tell his daughter.  Apparently, he’s trying to give her a reason to stay in the US when he goes back to Ireland and marrying a wonderful man like James is just the ticket.  It’s okay since James loves her and she’ll get there soon enough.  Brazen James compliments her laugh, and she takes some offense to it, but it’s smoothed over.  He goes to Patrick to confess his love.  “She’s warm, she’s funny, she’s beautiful.  She’s a first class cook too…when I get up the courage, I’m going to ask her to marry me,” James rhapsodizes.  “That’s wonderful, I’m very happy for you,” Patrick says with all the excitement of a broken stove.  James asks Wendy to marry him, but Wendy is worried that his family will be upset at him marrying a Catholic.  Let’s tuck that conflict in here too, why not?  But, she accepts his proposal and they kiss movie-star perfect, not those goony kisses Patrick and Lesley-Anne have given us.  This is mouth open, tongue and all!

Permanently injured, Patrick has taken to being awfully morose (even a primitive game of baseball doesn’t cheer him up.  “You think this will catch on?” James asks).  James reports that his mother is traumatized by his father’s death and won’t get over it.  “There’s some things you never get over,” Patrick recounts with funereal charm.  “Anyway,” James says, trying to ignore his friend’s mood, he’s going to retire from the Army and go back to help the family.  “We’ll be heroes to the folks back home,” James cheerily says before they talk about how awful Philip is, earning the name “Bent the Butcher” from the soldiers.  I think James is only being helpful when he tries to cheer up his lame friend, but Patrick will have no positive talk in his company!

Having resigned from the Army, James goes to find Philip so he can beat the crap out of him.  Philip plays dirty, using a knife, but James is too strong for him.  “If you ever cross me  or my friend again, I’ll find you and I’ll kill you just as sure as you crippled him,” James spits.  Now he’s the one with the threats, but that’s only going to make Philip angrier.

James discusses with Wendy the fact that Patrick “has changed” and though he wants him as his best man, he’s afraid to ask him, knowing that Patrick is such a sourpuss now.  Wendy suggests James ride off to Patrick’s plantation and ask him, and he agrees.  Then the soft music starts, Wendy takes the drink from James’ hand and walks him into the bedroom where they kiss.  “Pa won’t be home for hours,” Wendy flirts and James takes the bait.

Pouty Patrick arrives home to his clucking family members, but he only wants to be left alone.  How long will the moping go on?  Olivia reports of Patrick’s state to Lesley-Anne.  “Wounds heal, but he doesn’t, child,” sagacious Olivia offers.  She further warns Lesley-Anne never to go help Patrick.  Why?  She doesn’t explain, but her tone is strong enough to make Lesley-Anne sit back down.  Then James arrives to have his visit with Patrick, who has taken to drinking, as all psychologically defeated miniseries characters do.  “I don’t think you have the judgment of a mule,” James chastises his friend for throwing away his life over a wound and a broken heart.  “You have a lot left, a family and friends who care about you…if you keep pouring whiskey on the hurt, there’s nobody who’s going to help you,” James-as-Dr.-Peale says.  When he asks Patrick to be his best man, this finally stirs Patrick from his stupor and he eagerly accepts.

Mitchell kills the conversation dead when he tells James and Patrick that slave David has run away, because apparently whenever James is around, David feels strong enough to buck the rules.  Lesley-Anne goes to reason with David, having a reputation of being kind to slaves.  She gives him money and tells him to take a train away.  “When it speeds up, you be on it!” she advises, as if that big brand on his face won’t make him stand out.

Mitchell wants David back and Patrick agrees to help.  Over at David’s plantation, he’s whipping a slave mercilessly while Lesley-Anne watches twitching from the window.  She blames herself because the slave being whipped had helped David.  “It ain’t your fault, it’s the way things are,” Olivia reminds her.  She even blocks the door when Lesley-Anne tries to rush it in order to help a female slave who is next to be whipped.  Luckily, after just one lash, Patrick and company ride up to the plantation.  Lesley-Anne sees her beloved from the window and sends Olivia with a note to give to him, asking him to meet her at their abandoned church again.

She is once again dressed in somber black and he’s sporting a cape.  It’s time for their violins to be cued as they fall into each other’s arms.  “I don’t want you to feel sorry for me,” Patrick says, but Lesley-Anne just wants to remind him she still loves him.  That’s the magic tonic.  “Right now, I am very much alive,” Patrick reports before they go into their bad kissing routine.  The scene is dragged out to interminable length as first a few men ride by and scare them and then by the fact that they take forever with their dialogue.  “This is all we have,” Lesley-Anne says as they clinch and the second episode comes to a close.

Part Three starts in 1848, just where we left off.  In fact, Patrick is returning from his tryst with Lesley-Anne and James and Patrick are still terse with each other over the slavery question.  David Harris, the runaway slave, is still on the lam, about to jump on the train that as Lesley-Anne had instructed him, but Patrick and James happen to be at the stop.  Patrick stops David from getting on the train and wants to shoot him to avoid worse at the hands over the overseer (that’s hardly believable).  James shouts, “if not for him, do it for me!”  Patrick, though not happy that James has laid a major friend-based guilt trip on him, tells David to free.  Patrick, telling James “I’ll always stand up for you,” now considers them equal on the “life for a life” issue and tells him never to interfere with his “kind.”

A few weeks later, back up in Pennsylvania, James and Wendy are married, with Patrick there as promised, though precious few other people because the ceremony is in a Catholic church.  At the reception after, James’ mother Inga Swenson is “so fond” of Wendy, but she needs to speak to James, Wendy, brother Jonathan Frakes and his wife.  Meanwhile, Patrick bumps into Kirstie Alley, who immediately starts attacking him about the attitudes of Southern men toward female minds.  He volunteers to hear her ideas very gallantly.

What’s Inga’s big secret?  James and Jonathan are inheriting the ironworks equally.  This comes as a surprise to petulant Jonathan, the eldest brother.  “And now I think we should all return to our guests,” Inga chirps, as though she hasn’t just majorly changed every one’s lives.

Kirstie’s news is that she is making her first public abolition speech in Philadelphia and invites Patrick to listen.  “Since your brother and I have become friends, I have become interested in the Northern point of view,” Patrick says.  Wait a minute!  Is this the same man who tore into James a few scenes earlier about not understanding why the South needs slaves?  Inconsistencies are okay when they are in the minds of intelligent conflicted characters.  Patrick’s character is way too dim to be smart to understand two sides of this gigantic issue.  Inga interrupts once again interrupts, this time to invite Patrick and his whole family to spend the summer at their lake house.  Kirstie pips in with, “Mother, we need to call the architects so we can put up slave quarters in the back!”  As usual, James smooths a rough situation by telling Patrick it’s time for the best man’s toast.

A week later, it’s time for Kirstie’s abolition speech.  It starts with a rousing singing and clapping anthem.  Then, Robert Guillaume, playing Frederick Douglass, without his signature pompadour, gets to speak.  He does good work, acing the hypnotism that Douglass was known to possess.  Finally, it’s Kirstie’s Turn.  “The true crop of a Southern plantation is a human crop…nothing more than black breeding farms, giant bordellos owned and operated by a degeneration aristocracy,” she starts, rising with furious aplomb as Patrick gets noticeably uncomfortable.  Even James thinks Kristie went to far.  When Patrick is stopped trying to leave, he snaps, “I have to catch a train for South Carolina, I have some blacks to breed!”  It looks like his equivocation has finally ended and he’s taken a side.

Congressman David Ogden Stiers is infatuated with Kristie’s speech and “physical presentation” and invites her to dinner, but she declines as he is married.

We need more proof that slavery is bad, so we return to David Carradine’s plantation, where he browbeats Lesley-Anne for helping David Harris escape and for playing midwife to the slave children instead of giving him his own son that he wants so desperately.  “You say away from those blacks sluts, you understand me?” he warns.  “I’m watching you, remember that!”  So, she hightails it to her safe place, the ruined church where she and Patrick share their private moments.  In his cape, he shows up moments later.  “I’ve ridden by a hundred times hoping you would be here,” he starts off before they descend into typical schmaltzy dialogue and more of that strangely awful kissing.  This time, though, we get to see them disrobing (more shirtless Patrick) and getting into a very brazen sex scene for the mid-80s.  The soft focus lens is used, but it doesn’t hide the fact that Lesley-Anne is shirtless too.  Their orgasmic faces and the crashing music don’t leave anything to the imagination either.  These two are in serious need of a mattress.  Doing it on the gravel in the burnt-out church is not cool.

After sex usually comes violence.  There’s a giant explosion at the ironworks.  James goes into the burning building to rescue anyone he can.  He bravely pulls out one man and then wants to know how it blew up.  James had ordered the factory reinforced so pressure would never blow up the building, but brother Jonathan had canceled the order to save money.  Not only does James insist that they reinforcements be put up, but $5000 is to be given to every family who lost a man.  Jonathan refuses, since he has the access to the checkbook, but Inga lists all of Jonathan’s mistakes that led up to the explosion and moves control of the money to James.  Jonathan and his wife Wendy Fulton vow to “get back everything your brother has stolen from us,” another of those anything-but-gingerly delivered revenge promises that the the villains here love so much.

Five years pass and Patrick’s father is being buried.  His sisters have grown up into Terri Garber and Genie Francis, while his cousin is now Lewis Smith.  Patrick is now head of the house, master of the plantation.  He first tries to comfort Mama Jean Simmons, who assures Patrick that his father really did love him before dissolving into an old-style crying fit.

Lewis feels like an outsider taken in for the sake of charity by his family, as he confides into slave Erica Gimpel, whom he obviously loves.

As Erica listens behind a tree, Patrick’s first big decision as owner of the plantation is to fire the dreaded overseer.  “You hear me.  The day may come when you regret throwing me out like this.  I promise you that,” he threatens.  Add another fuming villain to the pack of people who hate Patrick.  Fired Tony Frank goes to get drunk, but finds Lewis already blotto at the bar.  They argue and a fight starts.  Lewis literally tosses Tony out of the bar, but then has the rest of its denizens piling upon him.  It’s only Patrick, swooping in with a cape on his sword (again, is this Dumas?) and breaks up the fight.  “A gentleman does not lower himself to a fistfight with a lout like [Tony],” Patrick rants, making Lewis even angrier at his kinsman.  Is there ANYONE Patrick can please other than Lesley-Anne?

Since they were girls, Patrick’s sisters have born the mark of miniseries obviousness.  Terri Garber plays the bad sister, the troublemaker, who is a brunet, while Genie Francis, overflowing with blond hair, is so sweet butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, to use a corny expression of the day.  In a direct rip-off from “Gone With the Wind,” Genie has to use real force to truss Terri into her corset.  Terri has a crush on cousin Lewis, but it’s Jim Meltzer who has come to ask Patrick for Terri’s hand in marriage.  Terri finds him “an old man…he’s over twenty!”  She doesn’t want to marry him, especially because of his “slobbery kisses,” which fascinate uber-virginal Genie, who can’t understand why Terri would kiss a man she didn’t love.  Plus, Jim isn’t such a bad catch since he has aspirations for high political office.

As Patrick is giving his approval, Jean storms into report Lewis has gotten into trouble again.  He has been caught fooling around with an engaged woman and the woman’s fiance wants to duel with Lewis.  Patrick reminds him not only are duels against the law, but Lewis is too young.  The duel will take place at Six Oaks (see, it’s a cheap “GWTW” which called a plantation Twelve Oaks).  Patrick agrees to be Lewis’ second to save the family “from further disgrace.”  “I can’t have you dying on me and sullying the family man,” Patrick says, rushing Lewis into quick training since they have only 72 hours before the duel.  Luckily, we’re spared a “Rocky”-style montage of training sessions, but Patrick does have to drill the boy with toughness.

The day of the duel arrives, though it’s supposed to be 6:00 AM and it sure as hell looks about high noon.  “I know you are scared and that’s to your advantage.  That peacock over there is too stupid to be scared,” Patrick says, giving his last bits of advice to Lewis.  Wayward cousins have bonded very nicely.  When the shots are fired, Lewis’ opponent proves cowardly and everyone applauds Lewis for his bravery and gallantry in not killing his opponent.  Patrick even gets Lewis to wear a matching cape to cement their new found friendship.  It’s lucky Lewis came along because Patrick is in dire need of a friend, James being so far away in space and ideology.  Lewis wants to “be a man of honor, like you,” to learn the gentlemanly code.  Hell, he even wants to go to West Point.  Patrick thinks he lacks the education, but is willing to get Lewis some tutoring to prepare him for the exam.

The family summit between James and Patrick’s families does actually happen, with Kirstie getting in an early dig by saying Inga “has worked like a slave” planting her beloved roses.  Patrick and James discuss possible secession.  “If South Carolina secedes, a lot of other states will follow, and we’ll all have to choose sides,” James says with dire warning.

Genie has a crush on John Stockwell, James’ other brother who will be attending West Point with Lewis.  Terri can’t let her sister be happy, so she flirts obviously with John, much to Genie’s dismay.  Kirstie corners poor Jean and lays out her plan for abolition, though Jean tries to slink out of the discussion by saying she knows nothing of politics.  But, Terri sticks up for the South’s side and then the whole gang gets into an argument.  “Slave owners are nothing more than whore masters,” Kirstie declaims and Patrick wants to pack up the family to leave, but Kirstie volunteers to stay in her room for the duration of the visit to avoid them.  Mediator James gets everyone to agree to stay.

Patrick brings up his long-lost dream of building a cotton mill in South Carolina and James agrees to it, with one condition: “no slave labor.”  Jonathan and his wife Wendy think it’s a “silly little adventure” and that they will lose all of their money, causing Inga to turn back control to Jonathan.

Terri’s overtures to John show her to be a true woman of the world.  She holds a bunch of berries at her cleavage and offers them to him, putting one in her mouth and making him take it from her.  But, John resists.  He cares about her, but not in that way.  “If you care about me, you wouldn’t be such a damn gentleman, she hisses to him.

The summer visit is over and Jean invites Inga and family to come down to South Carolina.  The two widows have become close, and of course James and Patrick have their factory to build.  Kirstie, watching from her balcony, having kept her promise to stay out of sight, fumes as everyone parts.

When Lesley-Anne shows up at her special church, she hears the sounds of sex going on.  It’s her husband David Carradine and a young slave girl.  She tries to run, but he catches and beats her.  “She was giving me what you won’t,” he uses as vindication and then leaves huge welts on her exposed back.  Patrick, with cape, happens to be just feel away and is able to come to the aid of his beloved.  Patrick vows to kill David, though Lesley-Anne tries to dissuade him.

Wendy has some news for James.  No, she’s not pregnant.  She merely wants their home to “be a stop on the Underground Railroad.”  James worries about the risks, but she takes him to a cabin where a slave is being treated for horrible wounds.  “You’re safe here with us,” James assures the man and of course agrees to Wendy’s proposition, with one condition, that they tell no one other than Inga, though Jonathan’s wife Wendy overhears the conversation.  Later on, James worries about how Patrick will react to this, but Wendy thinks he’ll come around.  Plus, with the family traveling to South Carolina soon, they are going to have to confront slavery head on.  Kirstie wants to go, but James says no.  However, when Wendy reminds James that if she goes, perhaps Jonathan and his Wendy probably will not go, he’s more convinced.  “Taking you into South Carolina is like taking a torch into a power magazine,” he chides Kirstie, but she promises to be “good as gold,” not to even discuss abolition, volunteering to swear it on a Bible.  James takes her up on that offer.

We’re halfway there now.

Part Four picks up with James’ family visiting Patrick’s in South Carolina in 1854.  The Southerners give their Northern friends a gigantic ball.  All Inga provided was a tour of the garden!  All of our leads are in one room, most notably.  For some reason, Jim picks James’ brother John of all people to pick a fight with over slavery.  James tells Lesley-Anne that she’s missing her spirit, and notes that Patrick seems the same.  “That’s the tragedy of feeling sorry for one’s self.  It obliterates sympathies for others,” Lesley-Anne snorts.  Terri Garber sees William Ostrander talking to Genie Francis, so she immediately swoops in to take him for herself, insisting he show her his prize horse.  “Maybe I’ll ride him myself,” Terri oozes.  As a flirt she’s shameless, but she goes way far beyond that.  Her double entendres are not exactly period-ideal.  John has been fixated on Terri, but Lewis tells him to try for Genie instead, because she’s actually good.  So, he does.

Kirstie slips out of the party, lights a cigarette and then heads over to the slaves quarters.  In a ball gown and all but choking with diamonds, she definitely sticks out.  She meets Georg Stanford Brown, Jim’s coachman and extends her hand to shake his.  Terri and William have sex on a pile of cotton.  She tells him that even if she has to marry Jim, “I will still want you.”  He doesn’t object and they get back to lust when John catches them.  She’s upset, but William, who has a body to die for, picks her up with a kiss and deposits her back on the cotton for more.

John is now definitely smitten with Genie, but like a gentleman, the kiss he gives her is very pure.  Terri sees it and goes rabid, tells John “he’s not man enough” to do what William did to her and then slaps him.  As for Kirstie, she goes out riding with Patrick’s slave Forest Whitaker, and tries to quiz him about whether he’s “happy being a slave…working for people no better than you,” but a rainstorm is of more concern to Forest.  On their ride, they come across Georg, whose body, obvious through a rain-soaked white shirt, is pleasing to Kirstie.  Kristie gets in his coach and invites him in, telling him about her work.  She wants to help free him.  “I’ll do anything to prove you can trust me, that I accept you as an equal,” she says.  “You wants to lay with me because I’m something different,” he responds, seeming to refuse, but then he kicks the door of the coach off as an excuse to get them to an abandoned farm building.  “Are you sure you wants this?” he asks as he’s touching her face, and off they go, through a vicious storm to do it.  Before they start, Georg is clear with Kirstie that he’s not having sex with her just because she wants it, but because he wants it too.

The next morning, Patrick and James go in search of Kirstie.  At dinner that night, Kirstie goes out of her way to thank Jim for Georg’s protection the previous night.  Jim says that’s the what he expects of Georg, “more loyal than a highland.”  That night, Kirstie gives Georg money and an address of a friend in Philadelphia.  “Go quickly.  I’ll be with you soon,” she tells him, not knowing that Terri has overheard the entire conversation.  At breakfast, after Terri gets in some jabs at the Northern family, Jim storms in and demands to know if Kirstie has helped Georg escape.  Terri tells all that she saw Kirstie and Georg together and Jim is furious, calling Kirstie an “abolitionist whore” and John goes to punch him.  Patrick orders Jim to leave, but Kirstie wants to make sure he has an answer to his question as to whether she helped Georg.  She proudly admits it.  “One day,  you’re all going to see what’s about to happen here, and when you do, God help you,” she shouts at everyone assembled and flounces off.  The argument doesn’t end when Kirstie leaves, and Patrick decides that James and his family should leave.  John kisses Genie goodbye, causing Terri to sniff, “you’ve already taken advantage of my brother’s hospitality, don’t think you can take advantage of my sister’s,” just to be pissy.  Worst of all, Patrick and James leave having decided not to see each other until everyone cools down and forgets what happened.

Lesley-Anne rushes to her father’s bedside when she is told he’s dying.  This is our first true deathbed scene in “North and South,” and Lee takes full advantage of doing that whispering over-acting thing.  Scenes like these always reveals a secret and Lee has a doozy for his daughter.  “You great grandmother was a Negress,” he informs her (as if the make-up they’ve been using on Lesley-Anne hasn’t been a clue since the first time we met her) and then dies.  Olivia has known the truth, but never told Lesley-Anne for fear that she would be hurt, and insists only the two of then should ever know the truth, especially since hubby David Carradine would kill Lesley-Anne if he found out.

Kirstie and Georg are now married.  When did that happen and how did it happen?  Even up North, a bi-racial marriage would have been nearly impossible.  A black abolitionist leader wants Georg to speak at rallies, but he’s not interesting.  Simply talking about slavery does nothing.  Kirstie and Georg believe that violence is the answer.  Georg and Kirstie are not living in splendor, but rather a hovel in the middle of winter, and Georg wonders “why in God’s name did you ever marry me,” since he feels his life is even harder now.  Kirstie’s answer is that they are locked in war together, though their extreme views are pulling them from the mainstream abolitionist movement.  One of their weapons is “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which they feel will ignite the spark of violence they desire.

A copy of the dreaded book is sent to Patrick and his family.  Patrick once again tries to have it both ways in discussing it with Genie.  He feels the book is lies, but she reminds him how poorly he reacted to the whole business with Kirstie and Georg.

With Lewis and John graduating from West Point, the two families are once again brought together.  Lewis and John are “best friends, just like we were,” Patrick notes to James.  The use of the past tense is notable.  Terri slobbers over the whole cadet corps.  She fully admits to Genie that she’ll marry Jim for his power, but have others.  “I can’t love just one man.  Think how disappointed the rest would be,” Terri cautions in the entire miniseries best line.  We have had villains, but sluts are a whole different matter and Terri injects some much-needed sex to the rather chaste proceedings.  Lewis is being sent to Texas under the command of Robert E. Lee and John is off to engineering duty in Washington.  John and Genie get a private moment together, though it’s interrupted by obnoxious Terri, who plants a giant kiss on John, evoking Genie’s ire.  She knows she can’t have him, but she can have a random cadet who has been eyeing her.

Genie and John duck out of a ball where John confesses his love to Genie.  “I can’t imagine what it would be like not to love you,” he tells her and then proposes.  She tearfully accepts.  Terri sneaks off with her cadet.  As she unbuttons his uniform, she talks about having seen many a man naked because when new slaves are bought, they are stripped.  The cadet offers to give her a button from his coat as a token of their time together.  “This little girl wants more,” she drawls as she pushes the cadet onto a table.

In the two years since they have seen each other, James has missed Patrick a great deal and Patrick says he shouldn’t have blames James for Kirstie’s behavior.  James wants John and Genie to get married, but Patrick will not give his consent.  Northern and Southern attitudes are too tense.  “A Southern girl being married to a Northern officer, what would their life be like?” Patrick asks, but James is a romantic, hoping still that the two halves of the country will come to an agreement.

Terri wants to go another round with her cadet, but he’s tired, offering up his friends instead.  Terri will happily sleep with any man who is a friend of John’s in the most warped revenge plan we’ve yet encountered.  Terri starts collecting her buttons (six for now), but when Lewis finds out, he’s furious.  Terri gives him a fake sob story about her “lost honor,” but he doesn’t buy it and slaps her.  “You want me, I know you do,” Terri snaps back, and she knows Lewis would never tell anyone because the family would be horrified.  “I’m only sorry he [John] doesn’t have any more friends,” she coos to an irate Lewis and storms out.

We haven’t seen Patrick and Lesley-Anne do the deed in their abandoned church in a while.  Let’s go catch up with them.  Lesley-Anne is depressed because of dreams she’s been having, which leaders her to tell him the truth about her mixed blood heritage.  “To some people, my skin might as well be coal black,” she notes, but Patrick vows stick with her.  And once again, this character seems to play Mr. North and Mr. South at the same time.  He actually volunteers to take her away so her husband will never find out, but she reminds him about his family and he says, “you mean more to me than anything else in the world” and puts her first.  They agree to meet in three days at the abandoned church, with only Olivia in on the plans.  Anyone want to bet this somehow goes awry?

Terri shows up at Lesley-Anne’s with a big problem: she’s pregnant by one of the West Point cadets, although in her retelling of the story, it was only one cadet.  She can’t have the baby, obviously, and she seems to think Lesley-Anne has contacts who can give her an abortion.  “I don’t believe it’s right to ruin so many lives because of one night of passion,” Lesley-Anne admits, though she doesn’t condone the behavior, but is willing to help Terri.  “No one must ever know, for both of our sakes,” Lesley-Anne cautions her.  The next day, they drift through the swamps with Olivia to a woman who performs abortions.  “There’s an evil streak running through her blood,” the abortionist tells Lesley-Anne and further warns her to be careful of Terri, because she won’t hesitate to sell Lesley-Anne’s secrets for her advantage.

When Lesley-Anne gets home, David is waiting for her, quizzing her on her activities that day.  Why did she go to shop and not bring home anything.  Which hotel did she eat at?  She can’t answer, but David knows the truth because he went to Charleston and tried to track her down.  He first slaps Lesley-Anne, then does the same to Olivia.  He drags Lesley-Anne upstairs, throws furniture around the room and then locks her in the room until she tells him the truth.  “Rot in here for all I care,” she says with fierce malice in his voice.

With Lesley-Anne locked in her room, she can’t meet cape-wielding Patrick at their appointed time.  He waits for her as long as he can.  Patrick goes to her plantation to inquire about her, but David feeds him some lies.  The servants are allowed to give her only a few pieces a bread a day and no water for washing.  Just as Olivia is about to unlock the door for Lesley-Anne, David comes and throws her down the stairs to her death, which brings a smile to his face and Part Four is now over.

Terri, about to be married in a few weeks, is over her abortion and still on the prowl with other men.  She of course spends some time bashing Genie’s love for John.  Genie responds by saying “we will be married and I’ll have a dozen children.”  “That’s 12 more than I’ll be breeding,” Terri retorts.  Once again, Terri gets all the fun stuff to say!  However, the comedic lines don’t save these two from seeing like a really low rent Scarlett and Melanie.

David brings a doctor to check in on Lesley-Anne, pretending that he’s concerned about her.  He tells the doctor she refuses to eat, but the doctor mandates she must.  However, she has managed to keep her false eye lashes on this whole time.  The doctor also leaves medicine and orders the windows opened.  David, playing the loving husband, agrees to all of the doctor’s conditions…at least while he’s standing there.  “I can’t believe it.  She’s practically starved herself,” the clueless doctor opines, with David having fed him lies about her having a mental breakdown.  The medication is laudanum, highly addictive.

Doped up and sitting outside, Lesley-Anne seems not to even remember Patrick when he saunters by for a visit.  David catches them and sends her back into the house, leaving Patrick confused.

A few weeks later, Terri is finally marrying Jim.  David does bring Lesley-Anne, but she’s still in her stupor.  Patrick thinks pushing him away on purpose.  If he were even a tad smarter, he might try to wonder why she’s so glazed and blank, but unfortunately, he’s not.

Politics is on the minds of many at this wedding.  There’s talk of giving Jim a high office in the state of South Carolina or perhaps the Presidency of the states about to secede.  “The first thing I’d do is put an end to those damn abolitionists,” he says, like a good Southern politicians.  Terri’s old sex partner William is there too, asking Terri for a quick tumble with the guests still there.  She needs him to carry out a plan, but he’ll have to wait.  “I refuse to talk business on my wedding day,” she says coyly.

The wedding night scene is particularly fun and trashy.  Terri fights off Jim, saying that she’s afraid, and he understands that all brides are nervous for the first time.  Is he upset with her for her “lack of experience?”  “On the contrary, I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” he responds, not knowing the irony in that statement.  “You’ll have to be gentle with me…a little patience and a little understanding is all I ask for,” Terri chides and pushes him away.  He doesn’t want to wait long, but the master manipulator gets her way.

When Jim goes to New Orleans on business, Terri pouts to Patrick that she’s left alone.  Jim is there for a secession meeting, which Patrick warns her will lead “to the South’s downfall.”  But, Terri is no fool.  She knows that Patrick can’t make up his mind about slavery (for the 53rd time) and goads him, so he sends her back home, disgusted with her.

At the meeting in New Orleans, Jim gives a rah-rah speech, everyone sings “Dixie,” and we meet an old friend we haven’t seen in ages!  Yes, folks, meanie Philip Casnoff is back, looking very pleased at Southern pride.  After the ado, Jim, Philip and a few others go over to a spunky whorehouse where a slave dressed in a harem costume greets them at the door.  The gang is worried about Jefferson Davis’ particular politics, which are at odds with Jim and Philip’s, the latter refusing to serve in an army headed by Davis.

STOP EVERYTHING!  It’s time.  It’s officially time.  Over six hours into “North and South,” we finally get Elizabeth Taylor.  And we get her in glorious movie star fashion, as the Madame of the house, walking down the stairs in an enormous gown, trailed by her waif-like girls.  She looks terrific, pinched so tight in a corset that her breasts enter the room a few seconds ahead of her.  Jim pays for every one’s good time and when he’s putting his wallet back in his pocket, Jim’s wedding picture falls out.  Philip sees Patrick and Lesley-Anne.  He hisses about his time with the former, but can’t remember why he recognizes the latter.  In Madame Elizabeth’s office, there is a painting of a woman who looks just like Lesley-Anne and now he remembers why he knew her face from the picture.  Madame Elizabeth explains to Philip that the girl in the picture is dead, having left the house years ago for a man.  He asks for more of the story.  The woman is Lesley-Anne’s mother, and also a quadroon.  “It is indeed a tragic story,” Philip says with faux sincerity, adding “your secret is safe with me, ma’am, I assure you of that.”

Patrick takes Genie along on a trip up North, and when he asks the train conductor if there is a “boy” to see to their luggage, the conductor snaps back, “maybe you should have brought your slaves.”  Patrick can’t understand this attitude…they are only in Maryland, which is technically still the South.  Genie is now suddenly the voice of reason and calms him down.  Patrick brings James a huge amount of loot from their joint business venture, and James has to admit Kirstie is home.  She only shows up when she needs money, apparently.  “I could accept her marriage, if I understood her reasons for doing it,” James says, then brushing away all talk of politics, like he always does, to ask about Lewis, who is off in Mexico.  “Thank God there is one person in our two families that knows who he’s fighting and why!” James kids.  Wendy swishes into the room in a gigantic green gown, “a Charles Worth original,” that James has bought her for a charity benefit to raise money for a new school.  As everyone is discussing the beautiful gown, in comes prickly Kristie.  She announces she’s going to Virginia to work with the legendary John Brown.  Patrick and Kirstie argue and she says that “any man that stands in our way will die in blood and fire and you’ll be the first!” she roars, sounding like a brainwashed harpy.  Everyone is revolted by her, but Patrick is particularly vituperative and the two bat gigantic insults back and forth, with Patrick ending with, “it’s time for you to back to your Nigger husband!”  James steps in to defend his sister and demands an apology.  “This time I will not apologize,” Patrick brays and it looks like the friendship between the two men is over.

As Wendy sees it, everyone should have apologized, especially Kirstie.  She feels James and Patrick should not let regional differences get in the way of the great friendship, but James is not willing to give up his morals and does not believe in slavery.  The situation also causes problems for John and Genie.  John asks, “do you expect us to wait until the issues of the country are solved?” and actually Patrick thinks it’s a good idea, because Genie would never defy her family.  Little Miss Milquetoast loves John, but she does indeed get on the train with Patrick.  At the very last moment, Kirstie boards the train, telling her brother, “I’m going back where I belong.”

The train stops in Harper’s Ferry so it can bring us back to the real world swirling around the soap opera plotting.  With a long beard, looking mean, Johnny Cash plays John Brown.  John Brown and his men make everyone get off the train.  Mad John Brown has come from Kansas as the head of a militia meant to free slaves.  Kirstie, fire in his eyes, and Georg are part of John Brown’s posse.  Patrick tries to reason with them, to tell them they are in danger, but Georg fumes, “I don’t take orders from trash like you.  Not anymore!”  As Georg is about to shoot Patrick, David Harris jumps in.  He tried being a freeman up North, but life wasn’t at all pleasant, so he joined John Brown’s men.  Because of approaching soldiers, John Brown lets the train go, but Kirstie stays behind with her husband, determined to fight along with her husband.  David is killed in the first round of gunfire and Kirstie runs through the bullets to get David’s gun.  Georg rushes to protect her and is killed doing so, with Kirstie wailing over his body.  “You’re all murderers!” she yells at the soldiers.  “You think he’s dead, don’t you?  He’s not dead, he’s free!” she roars and is taken away.

Patrick explains to Genie that John Brown got his supplies and money from Northern abolitionists and to fight the increasing sentiment against the North meddling in the South, the country will come apart.  “You’re taking about war between us and people that we love,” Genie says, as if she hasn’t been listening to anything happening the last few years.

Congressman David Ogden Stiers, who had been so enamored of Kirstie years ago, goes to visit her in the nut house.  Agree with her political ideology or not, she has been pretty damn insane the whole time, but the Congressman is there to rescue her.  She insists on standing trial for her part in the raid on Harper’s Ferry, but he tells her that “you can’t help the cause by staying here” and she agrees.  Now she needs a bath, because she looks like hell.  The Congressman takes her to his home to clean and feed her, and she relishes the meal while he tells her how he tracked her down.  She is still unapologetic for anything she has done and she tells the Congressman that they were married, which shocks him a bit.  He turns the talk to more personal matters, but Kirstie holds firm: she will not be with a married man.  “I’m rapidly becoming one of the most powerful men in Congress and I generally get what I want,” he says to Kirstie, with a tone of assistance and warning.  This whole scene is just bizarre.  What exactly is the Congressman after and why won’t Kirstie, smart as she is, use his power?

James and Wendy watch a political rally in favor of Abraham Lincoln’s candidacy and talk of course turns to his relationship with Patrick.  We go in the same circles until Wendy finally informs her husband she’s pregnant.  That’s good news!  Hooray!  It gives James something to focus on rather than his lost BFF.

Naturally, Kirstie is anti-Lincoln because he hasn’t come out and said he will free the slaves, and of course there is her husband’s memory making her so off-center politically that no candidate could really be good enough for her except someone of her own tight circle.

By now, Lesley-Anne (yeah, remember her?) is addicted to the laudanum, unable to remember Olivia is dead or pretty much of the walking dead.  David coos, “I’m a fortunate man” because he has a wife so obedient (via drugs) and pretty (via good luck).

At the plantation, Patrick is raging drunk and not in the mood to talk to Genie about her issues, which of course mean her beloved John.  She’s been waiting for Patrick to sober up so she can address the marriage question, but Patrick is unmoved.  “I don’t think you’re qualified to make my decisions anymore or even your own,” she says, displaying a temper for the first time.  She gives him a dose of reality, telling him he’s completely fallen apart since his friendship with James went awry.  He tries to reason with her, that if Lincoln is elected and war comes, her marriage to a Yankee will be very problematic.  “I pity you…you’re afraid to let a woman mean something to you,” Genie says, trying to get him to understand love, and having no idea that he does love, or did.  He slaps her, she runs out and he crumples in heap of tears.

A slave rouses Patrick, passed out on the floor, to tell him Genie has left with four trunks and gone to Charleston to live with Terri.  As ever uncaring about events around her, Terri is only interested in her new bonnet and trying to figure out a story that will keep her husband and Patrick at bay.  In truth, Terri still wants Genie’s beloved, and Genie suspects it, but Terri denies it.

Terri hightails it over to sexy William’s, reminding him he promised to help her get revenge on Genie and John.  “It’s the only reason I come here,” she says, in bed with him.  “The only reason?” he asks, since he would rather be having sex.  William isn’t actually worried about John, because he assumes that once war is declared, the Yankee soldiers in Charleston will be killed anyway, so his hands won’t have to be sullied.

“If the Yankees want to free our slaves, let them come down here and try, by God!  We’ll give them a Southern welcome they will never forget,” chimes Jim at a political rally.  He grabs the American flag from wall and drops it to the ground, hoisting a Confederate flag instead.  John is in the crowd, but he has to go back to the fort because it’s not safe for Yankees.  He asks for leave to see Genie, but it’s denied because she’s a Southerner.  War fever is raging in Charleston as the fifth installment of the movie ends.

“I declare, I wish I could go out just like this,” Terri, at her most Scarlett-O’Hara-lite, says looking at her figure nude, right as Genie rushes in to tell her she and John have arranged to meet.  Terri warns Genie to be careful on the streets, since it’s Election Day and people are in a state.  Is she really worried about their safety?  Of course not!  This is how inane our young lovers are.  They agree to meet at a tote board showing election results.  Yeah, that’s a good place for a Northern soldier, and don’t think the crowd doesn’t razz him for it.  The two go to lunch.  John is worried that Lewis will turn against him and not be his best man at the wedding, and Genie is upset about Patrick’s downward-spiraling life.  “Would you feel uneasy walking outside with a Yankee officer?” he asks as they hear church bells tolling the end of the vote count (it’s broad daylight, how did that count happen so quickly?) and she chirps back, “not uneasy, proud.”  Unease would have been better because a gang of toughs follows John and Genie and John shoots one of them.  They manage to outrun them, but Charleston is not safe for John.

Jim and Terri celebrate the coming secession with champagne.  “Soon you’ll be able to bathe in it if you like,” Jim tells her, because he expects to be at the top of the political heap in the Confederacy.  The man with the patch who had scared John and Genie so much was actually a hired goon of Terri’s and he shows up at the house to claim it, even though he didn’t actually kill John as per their deal.

Surprise of surprises, James shows up at Patrick’s plantation, completely unexpected.  They delve into politics for just a bit, but James is there “to save our friendship.”  He insists on apologizing face to face.  “Please don’t let a fanatic like my sister or the ones down here kill our feelings for each other,” James says sincerely, hoping to mend the miniseries strongest relationship, one far more important, and also far more fragile, than any of the male-female love stories.  “I have missed you,” Patrick concedes and the two hug.  James inquires about Lesley-Anne, but he recounts her odd personality change and the fact that “no one has seen her for months.”

James also wants Patrick to give his blessing to Genie and John’s marriage.  “Can’t you see what they would be up against?” Patrick asks.  “Yes…but they are young and in love, they’ll make it through,” James wisely notes before reminding Patrick what it’s like to be separated from the one person you love most.  Patrick finally caves in and grants his permission.  The young lovers are thrilled when they are told.  John is required to return to the fort as “all leaves have been canceled.”  “When will I see you again?” Genie wonders, which is the kind of question that condemns him mto an early death, as we all know from the miniseries rule book.  I could be wrong, but he’s a soldier in the wrong place at the wrong juncture in history.

Secession becomes a reality.  “Do you want to go outside and watch the South celebrate its own funeral?” Patrick asks James and Genie insists on going along.  Terri comes along, thrilled with the news that secession has taken place and “I was there to see it.”  Patrick tells her to congratulate Genie on her engagement, but Terri, digging down deep into her vast reservoir of cheesy acting abilities, spits out, “damn the Union and damn your Union,” once again stealing the scene away from everyone with a terrific line.  Patrick berates her, so she leaves the garden and rejoins the mob.  She finds a drunken William along the way and wants to know what he plans to do to stop the wedding.  “Let’s go to bed and discuss it,” he glowers, and she agrees.  Jim is the next to arrive, telling the family that the forts are to be taken away from the Yankees and James should stay out of sight, because his accent is bound to make him unpopular.

Jean Simmons is actually the voice of reason (by accident, I’m sure).  She accepts secession and tells Genie that “President Davis doesn’t want war.  He only wants the South to be left alone.”  That was a popular thought at the time among those with less hawkish hearts, but of course it’s the hawks who always end up making war inevitable.  Genie is just upset because John has been moved to Ft. Sumter and she is worried they will never get married.

Lewis hasn’t been seen in ages because he’s been stationed in Texas, but once Texas joined the secession movement, his position has become precarious.  Which side would he take?  He’s part of the Union Army, but his loyalties are with the South.  He decides to stay in Texas while those remaining part of the Union Army leave.  Lewis is called a “yellow traitor” for leaving the Union Army and he and the name caller fight.  Lewis wins, of course.  “I’ll kill the next man who calls me a traitor,” Lewis tells all assembled, his foot on the man he just defeated.  Charles then decides to resign and go back home.

John is being sent to Washington permanently, leaving Ft. Sumter.  His commanding officer gives him the night off to get married.  Lesley-Anne overhears her husband and William plotting to kill John, and doing so with such laughter we know for sure they are despicable villains.  Their plan depends on what time the train taking John is leaving, and they can only learn that from Terri.

The long-awaited marriage takes place.  Luke and Laura…oh, sorry Genie and John get married.  Terri is there, full of apologies, and insisting on taking John and Genie to the station.  “What times does the train leave?”  She gets the info, passes it along to a slave who gets word to David.  David finds out that Lesley-Anne overheard the plot and sends her to her room, but she refuses.  He beats her, but she grabs for a sword and cuts him in the face.  Suddenly awakened from her stupor, she tears out of the house, jumps in a buggy and rides off, finally reaching Patrick’s plantation to inform him of the plot.

William and a cohort intercept the carriage taking John and Genie to the station.  William introduces himself, noting that, “I’ve had the pleasure of your wife” (long pause as she fumes) “knowing her that is” (they were involved but never had sex).  Williams insults cause John to hop from the carriage, the two hurling insults at each other.  William does the familiar face slap with the glove and agrees to a duel.  Isn’t this all seeming a bit familiar?  As the paces are being counted, Lewis rushes into the fray, so William decides to shoot early.  Genie’s slave hurls a branch at him, causing him to shoot wide.  William goes after Genie in the carriage, but John stops him as Lewis fights with William’s second.  Lewis wins his round, with the second running away, and John stabs and kills William during their tussle.  Since the gun was rigged against John, he would have lost the duel.  Lewis sends them all off to the train.

When Terri arrives at Patrick’s plantation, he tells her he has proof that she set up the whole assassination attempt.  She tries to deny it, but he knows the truth and sends her packing, out of the house and out of the family.  Terri leaves with the threat that her politically connected husband will deal with him!  Patrick has a happier job to do in promising to take care of Lesley-Anne forever.  “It was some sort of drug,” our never-bright Patrick tells her, and that the cure might be painful, but he will be there with her to make sure she gets better.

David comes to claim Lesley-Anne, but Lewis and every slave on the plantation aim guns at him and his men.  David, checked for weapons by Lewis, goes in to have a chat with Patrick.  David is told, “if you ever try to take her, you will have to kill me first” and he means it!  David can only skulk off angry.  In Patrick’s plan, Lesley-Anne will get a divorce from David, on the grounds of “physical cruelty” and then they will marry.

Who gets to play Lincoln?  It’s an inevitable role in any Civil War miniseries, and no one could improve on Gregory Peck’s Lincoln from “The Blue and The Gray,” but with a lot of putty and bearding, Hal Holbrook is pretty darn good.  He’s had about all he can take from the South.  “I intend to be President of ALL the United States,” he tells Secretary Seward.  Genie and John are on hand to see him talk and so is our old friend Philip Casnoff, with his lover Morgan Fairchild, making her entrance into the miniseries with only minutes to go.  Philip has the intention of making money from blockades, the consummate opportunist.  Morgan hopes that Philip isn’t just using her for her money, but Philip sets her straight: “my dear, if you didn’t have the money for my ship, I’d be in bed with someone else who did.”  Morgan is going down south with Philip.  “I have friends who will be excited to see me,” she says, to which he replies, “and I have enemies who will be surprised.”  Oh, come on!  Give up already on Patrick and James.  That was so long ago.  He hasn’t made any more interesting enemies in the ensuing years?  A man like him should have a list a mile long!

Jonathan Frakes and his wife believe that James will be recommissioned and they can take over the ironworks, making serious money, even though it’s profiteering.  The Mrs. doesn’t care as long as she’s rid of James and “that Irish slut” wife of his, now so pregnant she’s ready to pop.  As Wendy sends James off to work, she encounters Kirstie cold, crazy, full of gray hair and sunken eyes.  Bringing her in the house, Jonathan and his wife want her gone, but Wendy insists.  “She is your responsibility while she is in this house,” Jonathan tells Wendy, who agrees.  Mama Inga pays her a visit while she sleeps, heartbroken at what she sees, but Kirstie was only faking sleep anyway, to spare her mother further agony.

Unfortunately, Patrick has to pay James a visit up North to handle business affairs.  He owes him money since the Southern government has requisitioned their joint effort for war materials, but he doesn’t have any money, so he has to mortgage the house.  “We are Southerners and will still have our honor and no one can take that from us,” he tells Lesley-Anne.  He leaves Lewis in charge of the house  and the defense of Lesley-Anne.  Lewis volunteers to go instead, but Patrick insists he has to go personally, because he wants to see James again.  “It might be the last time,” he is forced to admit.

April 12, 1861, before daybreak.  We know what that means!  The South fires on Ft. Sumter.  “Our nation has been attacked without provocation.  We are now at war,” a Union general tells his men, including John.  Patrick is on the train heading north when the news of Ft. Sumter’s surrender arrives.  “My deepest sympathy is toward the South, sir,” Patrick snaps sarcastically when asked if he’s a Northern sympathizer.  Arriving in Philadelphia, the crowd at the station gives Patrick a rough time as he tries to board a train, but he wields a sword and dashes across the tracks to get to his train.

Hold on a minute.  Did you read what I just wrote?  “Dashes across the tracks.”  Indeed, I’m not lying.  In a rare misstep for “North and South,” no one stopped this howler of a continuity error from happening?  This is a man who has been limping since the Mexican War!  Now suddenly he can “dash across the tracks?”  For shame, people, for shame.

On the other side of the tracks, he’s given a ribbon by a fellow Southerner, who insists he need it in order to get around the North.  “Do you really think this sort of deception is necessary? he asks her.  “You wear it!” she insists and he hobbles up the steps to the train (yeah, our dasher is now hobbling again).

James and Wendy are thrilled to see Patrick, though they are unsure how he managed to get so far north.  Kirstie is also there, but James assures Patrick she keeps to her room.  No time for sadness because Wendy shows him baby Hope.  Patrick gives James the money he owes him.  In a moment of glow between the two old friends, rocks are hurled through the windows and epithets yelled at both.  “There here because of you and I sent for them!” Kirstie yowls, bursting into the room.  In full-out lunatic mode, she keeps raging, “I hope they kill you” to Patrick over and over as she’s forced back up the stairs.  James and Patrick are forced to take up arms in order to get Patrick back to the station.  James confronts the mob, telling the members that Patrick is a friend of his, a patriot, and “the first man who makes a move against his friend” will be shot.  The mob backs down, but all goodwill toward James on behalf of his neighbors is gone.

Once again, Kirstie has to hit the trail.  She’ll never learn, this nutsy broad.  “I’ll never step foot in this house again,” she melodramatically concludes, but Wendy isn’t so convinced.  It’s where she was born.  She thanks Wendy for all the help over the years, but she has no respect for the family.  “They don’t know me at all.  They don’t care about my cause or my trouble.  They pay it lip services, but they won’t sacrifice anything for it.”  Her speech goes on for a spell as Wendy tries to get in a word here and there, but this is Kirstie’s scene, her one chance at the end to grab the reigns of the miniseries.  Other than Terri Garber, she has no real competition.  As Kirstie goes to make a grand exit, she slips on the stairs and all the family silver and jewels that she aimed to take go spilling out.  Wendy is sympathetic.  “I believe these are your things.  Now take them and go!”

James asks Patrick what he’ll do if the South offers him a commission, but that’s been settled because they have already asked him, just as James has been offered a spot on the general staff in Washington.  It looks like they will indeed be fighting on opposite sides of the war, age and infirmities notwithstanding.  James then pulls out the two halves of their $10 bill from the bet years earlier.  “Let’s each keep a half and put it back together when the war is over,” James suggests.  “Can you see anything we could have done to stop all of this?” Patrick asks.  Does he mean the two of them?  No, there is nothing two fictional characters could have done to stop the Civil War.  Does he mean the country in general?  Well, history says no, because too many people had too much at stake.  The two friends embrace for what might be the last time as Patrick boards the train.

Categories: Adventure Miniseries

4 Comments to “North and South, Book 1 (1985)”

  1. Juanita's Journal 10 January 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Let’s face it, if “Gone With the Wind” had been written a few decades later, it would have been a TV miniseries. But, that’s not the order of events, so John Jakes was able to sneak in a far more aggressive few books than Margaret Mitchell and he gets all the hours devoted to his. No, Patrick Swayze and Lesley-Anne Down are no Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh (although miniseries lovers will know that Lesley-Ann played Scarlett O’Hara on TV and we’ll get there), Olivia Cole is not Hattie McDaniel (she’s better, frankly), Genie Francis is no Olivia de Havilland, but none of that matters much alongside epic storytelling done so well.

    Why in the world would I want the cast of “NORTH AND SOUTH” to be like the cast of “GONE WITH THE WIND”?

    If I had to choose between the two productions, I would easily choose “NORTH AND SOUTH”.

  2. RosieP 27 March 2012 at 1:59 am #

    Lesley-Ann Down never portrayed Scarlett O’Hara. You’ve got her mixed up with Joanne Whalley, who portrayed Scarlett in the 1994 miniseries.

  3. LizMoore65 8 January 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    Take it from someone who has read both Wouk and Jakes’ novels, one writer isn’t better (or more sophisticated) than the other. At least I can give Jakes credit for not coming off as self-righteous and bombastic.

    I can say the same about the television miniseries based upon their novels.

    • Bj Kirschner 31 January 2015 at 8:09 pm #

      Wouk (who is still with us, in his late 90s) seems to have just missed becoming one of the “great American authors” of the 20th Century. Jakes was never in any serious danger of that appellation. Jakes fancies himself as a writer who is more of a historian. Wouk fancies himself as a writer. I don’t know how much either is read these days, but in their prime, they were on every bookshelf. I remember people fighting for copies of the Jakes works at the library.

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