ABC’s mini-series, Diamonds [Sunday and Tuesday, 9/8C]wants to be the Blood Diamonds of television when it’s more like a morality play that fuses that excellent film with the baser aspects of 24 – and throws in some primetime soap that’s significantly less than 99 & 44/100% pure [or fun...].
When Senator Joan Cameron’s daughter is murdered in the Congo, it sets off a chain reaction that reverberates through the halls of both the U.S. and Congo governments and the offices of the Denmont Corporation – a major wholesale diamond supplier looking to go into retail for the first time.
The high-powered includes Judy Davis [My Brilliant Career] as Senator Cameron; Sir Derek Jacobi [I, Claudius, Gosford Park] as Denmont CEO, Piers Denmont; James Purefoy [Rome], Louise Rose [Eastenders] as Luna Kormoma, Joanne Kelly [Vanished] as Stephanie Dressler, and Stephen McHattie  as Llewellyn Anderson – which guarantees that the cheesy, over-blown script is at least well acted.
That script, by David Vainola and directed by Andy Wilson, is simultaneously overcrowded and simplistic. Arcs include the machinations behind the scenes at Denmont Corporation; the plight of a child soldier in the Congo; a model who becomes the face of Denmont Corporation – and its face; an investigation into the massacre that included the senator’s daughter; and a cantankerous prospector for diamonds in the Canadian Arctic.
The various arcs weave in and out – actually they jump in and out [not much subtlety here] in harsh cuts rather than more elegant transitions. Everyone is so, so serious – the script doesn’t allow much in the way of badly needed comic relief because it’s Saying Something. As a result, the whole thing feels like someone thought that 24 and Dynasty would meld into the general Blood Diamonds concept. The monster diamond at the heart of most of the arcs is beauty, though…
There’s a certain fascination in seeing a world-class cast acting the hell out of a Razzie-worthy production [too bad there’s not a Razzies for television], but it fades well before Diamonds’ four-hour running time. The really sad thing is that Diamonds is a co-production with the CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, so it’s a genuine international fiasco. My grading for this is based solely on the performances – otherwise, diamonds would rate an F.
Final Grade: D+
EM Review by Sheldon Wiebe
Posted May 24, 2009