Times Staff Writer

"Hold the Dream" is not a miniseries of substance.

The four-hour sequel to "A Woman of Substance," which begins tonight at 8 on KCOP Channel 13, is soap opera, pure and simple--but with minimal suds. It's "Dallas" without the humor, "Dynasty" without the glitz.

"How serious is it, doctor?" the leading character, Paula, asks after her drunken husband has crashed his car.

"There's a fracture of the spine with probable nerve damage, but there's some movement. There's also a severe fracture to the left wrist, cracked ribs and, obviously, cuts and bad bruising. So," the physician concludes, "it's serious."

That's how dry Barbara Taylor Bradford's adaptation of her own novel is. It has the same plot machinations of "Dallas" and "Dynasty"--marital discord, family in-fighting, unrequited love, big-budget business deals, revenge, sex--but with prototypical British restraint (except with regard to the sex, where it is a bit racier than typical U.S. network fare).

Jenny Seagrove, who played the young Emma Harte in 1984's "A Woman of Substance," is cast here as Paula, granddaughter of 80-year-old Emma (Deborah Kerr) and heir to the business empire she created in the earlier miniseries, which, like this, was directed by Don Sharp for the Operation Prime Time ad-hoc network.

The recurring themes, such as they are, are whether Paula can continue to run the business as well as her grandmother and whether she can do it without making the same sacrifices in her personal life that the older woman did.

"Work isn't enough," she's told.

"Yes, it is. It has to be," Paula insists.

Don't worry. She isn't serious.

The first two-hour installment of "Hold the Dream" airs tonight and again Saturday at 8 p.m. The concluding chapter will be shown next Tuesday and repeated the following Saturday, Nov. 22.

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