Ken Tucker
July 06, 1990 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Only Masterpiece Theatre could take a group of high-spirited, high-flying young World War II pilots and reduce them to a bunch of sniffy little dullards.

In the six-part Piece of Cake, war, peace, love, and hate are endlessly, mumblingly debated over the steady whirring of propellers. Boys grow into men, men grow frightfully bristly mustaches, and the plot grows more vague as the weeks go on.

<p The history behind this story is provided almost entirely by Alistair Cooke's introductions; the miniseries itself is all prattle and dogfights, plus a heroically subtle performance by Tim Woodward as the RAF company's wise commander.

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