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When you’ve got Peter O’Toole in a Masterpiece Theatre mini-series, who cares how many liberties teleplaywright Russell T. Davies took with the confabulations of Giovanni Giacomo Casanova? O’Toole plays “Jack”—the eighteenth-century soldier, ecclesiastic, diplomat, libertine, and spy— as a sick old man, moldering in the Bohemian library of Count von Waldstein and reading his memoir to the saucy servant girl, Rose Byrne. David Tennant plays the younger Jack, abandoned by his mother, expelled from a seminary, imprisoned in Venice, inventing the lottery in France, meeting Voltaire in Switzerland, and making love, music, money, and Masonic mischief in all the capitals of Europe. Laura Fraser is the Renaissance peach he loses to a filthy-rich Rupert Penry-Jones, Shaun Parkes is his Sancho Panza, and Nina Sosanya is the cross-dressing castrato impersonator. This stylish romp suggests that the secret to Jack’s success is that he actually listened to what women said.

Channel 13, Sundays, October 8 and 15, 9 P.M.


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