Is there a more perfect Lifetime movie property than Steel Magnolias? This tragicomic celebration of female bonding through gossipy good times and bad, all while getting their hair done at Truvy's Beauty Spot in suburban Louisiana, has been a crowd-pleaser since its first incarnation as an off-Broadway stage play (my preferred version, where the men are kept entirely offstage). The epitome of a leave-'em-laughing-while-weeping heart-warmer, Magnolias reached its pop-cultural apex in the all-star 1989 film version, but its can't-miss universality is underscored in Lifetime's oddly genteel but ultimately affecting new TV-movie (Sunday, 9/8c), whose big twist is in the casting of an all African-American ensemble.
"This house is going to see such life!" So declares the new mistress (familiar face Keeley Hawes) of Upstairs Downstairs' 165 Eaton Place, blowing out the cobwebs after years of disuse. This address is so iconic to fans of classic British TV, it's a wonder Masterpiece Classic waited until its 40th anniversary to time-warp us back for more sudsy ups and downs in this fabled London estate. (For those devoted to the original, a deluxe new 21-DVD set of the complete '70s series has been issued by Acorn Media.)