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"Cider With Rosie"

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Rosie, who bestows the first kiss and the ultimate favor upon a young and callow Laurie Lee, after which he becomes a poet, won't show up till the very end of Cider With Rosie (Sunday, February 28; 9 to 10:30 p.m.; Channel 13), an especially charming installment of "Mobil Masterpiece Theatre" adapted by John Mortimer from one of Lee's several lyrical memoirs. Part of this charm is rural, a semi-feudal Slad Valley in the English Cotswolds that the camera loves as much as if it were Eden, Arden, or Arcadia. Part of the charm is Lee himself, who recorded the narration before his death in 1997. But most of it's Juliet Stevenson, who plays Lee's mother, Annie, left by a bounder to raise eight children with no money.

If you've seen Stevenson in Truly Madly Deeply or The Politician's Wife, you'll not need me to tell you she's terrific, with a stray curl, a mad gleam, and more energy than the Industrial Revolution. With such a mother, Laurie (Joe Roberts) hardly needs a Rosie (Lia Barrow) or a violin, an army deserter, a tattooed uncle, or spinsters in the attic, nor even the promiscuous Miss Flynn (Emily Mortimer), who is as lovely, sad, and swanlike as these remembrances. With such a mother, D. H. Lawrence might have been a nicer person.


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