comes to gorgeous costume dramas, the British know how to make ‘em and do it
well. There have been dozens of them that enchanted American audiences and
several have even ended up in my collection. This is one of their recent
endeavors and sadly, I think it shows the wear of writer’s who have already
tried this premise.
From a small
village into the bustling neighboring town walks Denise (Joanna Vanderham).
She’s a simple country girl whose innocence is obvious to everyone upon meeting
the blonde-haired beauty. It was always the plan between her family and her
uncle (Peter Wright) that she’d one day work in his small shop. That day is
now. Surprising her uncle, he informs her at her arrival that business isn’t
good and as a result, he is unable to take on an assistant. Wide-eyed with
wonder at the town’s bustling prosperity, Denise applies to the large
department store across the way, The Paradise. Her uncles mortal business
enemy, Denise cannot see her way to not working and despite her awe, she
petitions for a job with Miss Audrey (Sarah Lancashire), the head of the lady’s
department. Though the woman is a stickler for propriety and rules, something
about Denise inspires her to hire her for a probationary period.
owner is in desperate need of capitol which pushes Moray (Emun Elliott) to
request a loan from the wealthy banker whose daughter he is courting. Catherine
Glendenning (Elaine Cassidy) is of the privileged lot but is infatuated by her working-class
beau and is all for petitioning her father for the loan on his behalf. Against
the advice of his best friend and partner (Matthew McNutly), Moray decides to
hold a one-day magnanimous sale. Though kept under the strict rules of Miss
Audrey, Denise cannot help speak her mind and captures the attentions of the
charming Moray. A suit she may be wiser to ignore.
heard of this series prior to another blog post I read, I was immediately
delighted to discover more than one thing about it. Firstly it guest-starred Olivia
Hallinan, star of Lark Rise to Candleford
and then I found that it was also created by the same man, Bill Gallagher.
Unfortunately, I think this BBC program suffers from the pre-cursor of ‘Lark
Rise’ – there are far too many similar plot devices used and it made me sad to
note its lack of originality (save for its setting). Don’t mistake my tone for
dislike of that delightful hamlet of a series, in fact it was a wonderful
family show that ended all too soon and one that my friend (you know who you
are) can attest to my written tomes (in length), raving (positively so) review.
It takes no more than a matter of minutes to draw a handful of similarities
between the two series and that doesn’t stop even spilling into the second
series has promise. I was swept into Denise’s world (what a pretty, enchanting
one it is!) and appreciated her sweet innocence, a rarity in entertainment
today but the dynamics and relationships fall flatter than they should. I
immediately liked Miss Audrey and the adorable Pauline (Ruby Bentall,
ironically also of Lark Rise to
Candleford fame) but was a bit put off by Moray. Hopefully watching the entire
series will clear my mind of any lingering suspicions of his character because
really he gave me no reason to distrust him, I simply felt like he
may be a bit of a con man though I was pleased with his moral character when he
stands up for one of his workers accused of impropriety. But then, I am getting
ahead of myself as that doesn’t happen in the pilot! Back to this episode: I haven’t watched enough
of the show to necessarily root for Denise and Moray’s “someday” romance but
his demeanor makes it easy to believe he would take advantage of her and leave
her broken-hearted. That is a possibility I would not wish on her.
of the cues he took from his series prior to this, I cannot help but compliment
Gallagher on his ability to snag our attention with Moray’s shadowy past or the
motivations of Catherine. The script in both regards was interesting. The
costuming however left something to be desired for my cinematic tastes but
there are pretty patterns and accessories. The
Paradise has already been ordered for a second series, and if I had one
thing to hope for it, it would be that it would distance itself from some of
its predecessors because it’s a sweet trip back into yesteryear.
know: there are whispered wonderings about what happened to Moray’s wife. A
woman attempts to seduce her dinner companion after he unties her laces under
the rouse she cannot breath [the camera cuts away]. The employees often spend
nights out enjoying their alcohol at a pub across the street. The series is