The Paradise, Series One (2012)

December 22, 2012 12 Comments

Were it not
for another blog, I may not have heard of this series. (Introducing me to this
series was Jeanine, and she deserves a great “thank you” for it.) Many of you
likely remember seeing the review of the pilot episode show up here a few weeks
ago. Fortunately, in finally finishing up the novel-to-screen adapted first
season, I kept an open mind and was handsomely rewarded for that.

Full of
promise and ideas is Denise Lovett (Joanna Vanderham). She’s a simple country
girl whose innocence is obvious upon meeting the blonde-haired beauty but her
ambitions refuse to go unnoticed. Hoping to work with her uncle (Peter Wright)
in his small shop, Denise is disappointed to learn that he is unable to support
an employee. Wide-eyed with wonder at the town’s bustling prosperity, she
applies to the large department store across the way, The Paradise. Her uncle’s
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
lady’s department. Though the woman is a stickler for propriety and rules,
something in Denise inspires her to hire her for a probationary period.
At The Paradise,
the store’s ambitious owner has plans to expand but is in desperate need of
capitol which pushes Moray (Emun Elliott) to request a loan from the father of
the wealthy but spoiled young woman whom 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. With the strict rules of Miss
Audrey, Denise is kept under careful watch but in speaking her mind, she captures
the attentions of the charming Moray.

It isn’t hard
to let this delightful piece of costume drama of a series sweep us up into its
charming premise chronicling England’s first department store. I was
immediately delighted to unwrap its many surprises and poignant charms as soon
as I worked past my jaded views of its scripting. Firstly it guest-starred
Olivia Hallinan (Lark Rise to
) and later, Mr. Collins himself, David Bamber. Then I found
that it was also created by ‘Lark Rise’ writer, Bill Gallagher. Unfortunately,
until you get past the first two episodes, I think this BBC program suffers
from the pre-cursor of ‘Lark Rise.’ There are familiar plots used and
that disappoints. It takes no more than a matter of minutes to draw a handful
of similarities between the two series and that doesn’t stop in short order,
instead even spilling into the second episode. That’s when all bets are off and
unexpected twists begin to take shape.


In its opening,
the series had promise. I was swept into Denise’s tempting world (what a pretty,
enchanting one it is!) and appreciated her sweet innocence, but it isn’t until
three installments in that things become, actually brilliant. There is much more content and the relationships begin
to pick themselves up and take surprising turns. I immediately liked Miss
Audrey even seeing her at her worst midway through in her brusque attitude and
the adorable Pauline (Ruby Bentall, ironically also of Lark Rise to Candleford fame) but was a bit put off by Moray. This
reason I cannot put my finger on 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
grinning at his moral character when he stands up for one of his workers
accused of impropriety. As a leading man, there is something left wanting in
his behavior – he seems unable to “control” his impulses when it comes to women.
First he’s obsessed with his wife, seeks comfort in the arms of another and “needs”
Catherine for business reasons. And then there is Denise. It’s not that I don’t
like them together (the ending swept me up in ways I shouldn’t have let it) but
I don’t think he is right for her. In watching the episodes as a whole series
rather than individual ones, there is something to be said in favor of rooting
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.

all around should be given to Gallagher for his teasing scripts; they snag our
attention with Moray’s shadowy past and, eventually, the motivations of
Catherine which are far from selfless. The passion, ambitions, jealousy and
mystery culminates into something quite clever; the script in all regards is interesting.
The Paradise has already been ordered
for a second, and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t delight me. There are too
many things from ‘paradise’ that are far too lovely to miss.  
The Paradise premieres on Masterpiece Theatre Fall 2013 followed by a U.S DVD release on November 12th.
(Parental Concerns: there are whispered wonderings about what happened to Moray’s wife. A
woman attempts to seduce her dinner companion after he unties her laces [the
camera cuts away]. There are implications that a man slept with his employee
and he nearly allows it a second time. Questions arise about a woman’s
reputation after she arranges for a scene in which it appears a man has taken
advantage of her. The employees often spend nights out enjoying their alcohol
at a pub across the street. Off-camera, someone is murdered. The series is

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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  • Rosie December 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I'm glad your opinion changed! Haha! Yeah, I remember your post about the pilot. I just might tune into this come spring. I haven't seen Lark Rises to Candleford so I probably won't recognize any similarities. Great review, as always. ;)

    • Rissi December 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      As am I, Rosie. Once you get past the first two eps., the show becomes surprisingly clever. Plots take turns you'd never expect in such a genre and it's fun – and unexpected that way.

      'Lark Rise' is a delight. It's a family-like series that younger audiences can enjoy and I like that about it!

      Thank you for reading – and I hope you enjoy this! You'd be right in saying the similarities would mean nothing to you. Script wise, this is probably the stronger one.

  • Charity December 23, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    I enjoyed it overall, probably even more than Lark Rise — but I'm not a fan of Moray. More thoughts in my e-mail. =)

    • Rissi December 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      Good (loved reading your thoughts!), I am so glad, Charity. As far as writing goes, I think this was the stronger serial… though I still adore 'Lark Rise' for its cute and innocent story. (Plus in this, it was grand to see "Laura" and "Minnie" again. :D)

      I totally "get" where you are coming from with Moray. Believe me.

      Looking forward to that conversation!

    • Charity December 25, 2012 at 12:38 am

      I liked Lark Rise (and particularly Dorcas — she's my one weakness ;) but The Paradise seems a bit more… grown up, so I appreciated that about it. =)

      I'm starting to wonder if this particular writer simply can't write a male character I like! Moray is horrible — and I never particularly liked any of Dorcas' leading men either; Timothy was a twat, and JD was a philanderer — she deserved better. I much prefer Dudley over Moray — shame he's married, and off the market, he'd make a much better romantic lead. =P

    • Rissi December 25, 2012 at 5:44 am

      I see that perspective. Dorcas (she needs to appear on 'Paradise') was lovely – she was the "one weakness" on that show. Only in this case, that is an EXCELLENT thing not criticism. 'Paradise' definitely grew further in and I recognized and appreciated that.

      You raise an excellent point. Perhaps Bill cannot write a suitable male lead. *sigh* That's not promising. I didn't mind JD (to a certain point) and believed that he loved her but Timothy was a dweeb. Or maybe something stronger? A jerk. Gabriel was alright though not totally without fault – he was a "broken" man. Like usual, I liked the teacher but was disappointed he left.

      Funny you should mention Dudley. Before realizing he was married, I'll confess he caught my eye for Denise – and without even a hint that he may be paired with her! Fortunately, they aren't making him out to be a philander. That's a positive.

    • Charity December 26, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      (Minor note — check the spelling in the title of this post.)

      Lark Rise was enjoyable — but juvenile much of the time. I don't mind silliness but… there's something lovely about a "mature" series (without much bad content).

      I've begun showing my parents the series, and Mom hates Muray. Dad hasn't said much, but I gather he doesn't like him either. We all think he's just toying with Catherine, using her for her connections and money. We prefer Dudley. SIGH.

    • Rissi December 27, 2012 at 6:41 pm

      Ooops! Guess I had dyslexia… or something! Perhaps I just wanted to re-name the store. ;D Thanks for that.

      I think one of the reasons I liked 'Lark Rise' so well was because of its wholesome stories and the characters. I get where you are coming from completely. If something can be "mature" without adult content, that is a HUGE plus and a hurdle overcome that deserves credit.

      I don't think I can say that I "hate" Moray but there is something… fishy about him. His demeanor is somehow not trustworthy. In spite of his manipulative ways… Catherine has got ulterior motives. Or that is my impression so far. It'll be interesting to see what the second set brings.

  • Kellie May 29, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Hey, Rissi! Have you heard anything about this being released for Region 1 anytime soon?

    • Rissi May 29, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      Unfortunately… no. The second series is about to start filming so maybe *fingers crossed* that will prompt it to arrive in the states. You can get it on Amazon but it's only region 2, which is… *sniff* quite sad.

  • Ella November 20, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    I just finished watching season one last week. This is one of my favorite tv shows now!
    I hope season 2 is just as good.

    • Rissi November 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Ella! I'm hoping to get S2 watched around Christmas so they'll be a review up and like you, my expectation of S2 is that it'll be as good as this first series. Cannot wait! :)

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