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‘Last Tango in Halifax’: Bitter with the sweet

Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi star in the six-part PBS series “Last Tango in Halifax” as a pair of 70-somethings who reconnect after being widowed.
Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi star in the six-part PBS series “Last Tango in Halifax” as a pair of 70-somethings who reconnect after being widowed.Matt Squire

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This six-part series is indeed sentimental and familiar as it takes on love between two 70-somethings; here there be some treacle. But it’s so much more interesting than that. It’s also about regrets, it’s about unwelcome detours in life, it’s about the superficiality of cultural differences, it’s about the dangers of silence, it’s about that path we were once too weak to take. It’s about a pair of lived-in and emotionally honest performances, by Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid as the romantic pair, Alan and Celia.

And, not least of all, it’s about portraying older people on TV without patronizing or ridiculing them. Most TV characters over 70 are one-dimensional — the curmudgeon, the cutesy grandparent, or the punch line (sorry, Betty White, I love you, but. . .). In “Last Tango in Halifax,” Alan and Celia are more layered creations. Why, they even know how to use the Internet, and they actually manage to reconnect — like every baby boomer ever — on Facebook.

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LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX

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