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‘Blond Bombshells’ never quite explodes

SHARE ‘Blond Bombshells’ never quite explodes

Any opportunity to see Judi Dench acting is worth taking. Let alone an opportunity to see her working with the likes of Ian Holm, Olympia Dukakis and Leslie Caron.

For those actors alone, "The Last of the Blond Bombshells" is worth watching. If only they'd had a script that was more worthy of their talents.

Not that "Bombshells" (10 p.m., HBO) is bad, by any means. It's a low-key character piece that's pleasant enough but never really catches fire. It has some very nice moments; you just sort of wish there were more of them.

Dench stars as Elizabeth, a recent widow who shocks her grown children when she uses some R-rated language (this is HBO, after all) at her husband's funeral. Elizabeth relates better to her young granddaughter, and in recounting her time as a member of an (almost) all-girl band — the Blond Bombshells — during World War II, she realizes that was the happiest time of her life.

We see bits of those days through numerous flashback sequences.

So she sets out to reunite the band and, in the process, rekindles a relationship that never quite was with the drummer, Patrick (Holm), who — despite the fact that he wore a wig and a dress to be part of the band, wasn't at all confused about his sexuality. Except, perhaps, that he could hardly keep straight how many of the Bombshells he was sleeping with.

The attempt to bring the group back together is bittersweet. But Elizabeth forges ahead despite the opposition of those cartoon-like children of hers.

And, again, there are some wonderful moments along the way. Dukakis is over the top as the boozy American trumpet player who lives in a castle in Scotland, and Caron is as elegant as ever as the French bassist.

Toss into the mix Cleo Laine on vocals and "Bombshells" is worth watching for the music.

Unfortunately, not a whole lot really happens in "Bombshells." But still, who could resist Dench, Holm, Dukakis and Caron?

E-mail: pierce@desnews.com