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The Boston Globe

Arts

TELEVISION REVIEW

‘Restless’: World War II spying, 1970s reprise

For just a second, it’s jarring to see Michelle Dockery of “Downton Abbey” as a single mother in “Restless,” wearing bell-bottomed jeans and smoking pot in 1976 England. You can hear Maggie Smith exclaiming, “Mary Josephine Crawley, put your hair up and remove those love beads at once. You are forgetting yourself.”

But Dockery, so proud and cynical and near-tragic in “Downton,” passes beautifully as the disbelieving daughter of a former spy in “Restless,” a miniseries premiering Friday night at 9 on Sundance Channel. She and castmates Charlotte Rampling, Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell, and Michael Gambon are easy to enjoy, as the two-parter toggles between the 1970s and World War II spy intrigue. “Restless” is not a particularly tight suspense story: The material, adapted by William Boyd from his 2006 novel, is too steeped in mood and the story suffers from a few underdeveloped and unearned plot turns, especially in next Friday’s part 2. But the acting, particularly by the three female stars, Dockery, Atwell, and Rampling, more than compensates.

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