January 15, 1996 12:00 PM

A&E (Sun., Jan. 14, 8 p.m. ET)

B

Here we have a pleasant, serviceable version of Jane Austen’s novel about the five Bennet girls and their stumblings toward the matrimonial altar. At six hours (over three nights), this BBC adaptation is a good deal more thorough than necessary. The minuets and pianoforte recitals seem to go on forever. And the casting could have been better: Jennifer Ehle, as Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine, has an oval face, a secretive smile and shrewd, small eyes. She looks like Anais Nin in period clothes, and that ain’t right. But Colin Firth is magnificent as her beau, haughty, mercurial Mr. Darcy. And there are flashes of Austen’s heartbreakingly accurate wit, as in the misalliance of the girls’ neurotic mother and cruelly lackadaisical pa, played by Alison Steadman and Benjamin Whitrow.

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