Given the run on period dramas highlighting the latter eras (1920s – 1950s), seeing a period drama that goes back to the era of the “rustic” beauty and charm is something of a rarity. That’s why when a re-make of the 70s classic, Poldark was announced, everyone was a-twitter. When teasers led to talk about its lead star Aidan Turner, as the titular character, there was even more buzz surrounding the production – especially when the pictures came about.
Poldark, Series One (2015) BBC Review
Following the end of the American Revolutionary war, Ross Poldark (Turner) returns home. Once back on Cromwell’s shores, he discovers two things are about to tear his world apart. The first is when news of his father’s death reaches him. Feeling lost and in no hurry to return to his childhood home, he instead detours to his uncle’s where his family is merrymaking, celebrating the one moment that shatters him. His beloved fiancée, Elizabeth (Heida Reed) is betrothed to his cousin, Francis (Kyle Soller). His family thought Ross was dead and in his absence, moves on. The only person who seems genuinely happy Ross is back is Verity (Ruby Bentell). Verity lives under the oppression of her father and brother with few joys in life, but with Ross’ return, she gains a friend back. Feeling unwelcome among his family, Ross returns to his father’s home where he encounters ruin.
As the younger son, his father’s estate is the smaller yet his servants have let the place fall into disrepair. This inspires Ross to
bring the home back to its former glory and he has great plans to get the family mines operating again. Coinciding with this is the rescue of a young girl named Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson), whom Ross provides with safety and hires her on as a kitchen maid. Only polite society what it is, rumors soon fly about Ross’ spitfire of an employee. Ross has greater problems when he makes enemies with a powerful banker and though he still harbors feelings for a woman he can no longer have, slowly Ross finds the prospect of a new love in unexpected places.
Though this Masterpiece production isn’t directly related to the Ioan Gruffudd movie of the same name, it’s a remake. The Ioan Gruffudd movie is a kind of continuation of this family’s life. Having never seen the earlier version (same title), I don’t know how this measures up. But I hear that the 1975 adaptation is good. I tend to always prefer the newer version, which is why I’m not too keen to see the Robin Ellis adaptation. This series is gorgeous and swoon-y. I read somewhere that this is like an ode to the period dramas we were once spoiled by. No truer statement has ever been made. This is that and then some. The stories may be different, but this is a style more reminiscent of North and South. Amazing and frustrating characters in equal parts are only one half of the equation.
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The camera work, angles and truly breathtaking moments bumps this up on my list of favorites. Dependent upon how future installments play out, of course. There is something unexplainable about the expressions of love and emotion this script gets out of its characters. Every frame, actor and situation pushes this story further into an interesting conundrum in which we’re often afraid there’ll be no return from. The writers write their characters into multiple fixes that seem to have no happy solution although if we were to be honest, undermining any of them is probably not wise counsel. That’s all I’ll say on the subject.
Nothing of what I said has even touched on the old-fashioned, swoony romance, which if I do say, is all classic and sophistication nostalgia. I adore how the romance angles play out, including Ross’ unexpected, shifting affections and respect Ross for letting himself find happiness elsewhere. It’s about time a hero didn’t cheat with the former flame he can’t quite move past. (Ps; if you need proof of the romance, check out this tweet quote.) What’s also really good is the gritty realism of this production. Couple that with themes of heroism, honor, and loyalty and this production culminates into something darn near perfection. It’s not all about what goes on in a ball room. There’s a lot of politics that goes on.
Anyone who is a part of these fandoms would be missing out by not watching this. It’s currently airing in the states (Sundays on PBS), but come Tuesday, the entire season is available on platforms like iTunes and available on DVD or Blu Ray. Only be prepared, the ending will not only throw you for a loop, your heart might be wrenched a bit askew in the process.
All that’s left to say is to thank the powers that be for a second series. These installments don’t bill themselves as a first series, but trust me… Poldark will return to our screens. Just not soon enough.
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You can find Poldark, series one digitally on Amazon Video
Content: there is some sexual innuendo and various liaisons throughout the eight episodes. Ross once spends the night with a prostitute, two other men also avail themselves of her services. There are scenes of married couples lying in bed together and a young woman offers herself to the man she falls in love with; Francis attempts to make love to his wife. Elsewhere, a married woman makes advances to a man only to eventually get what she wants. There is some violence, and a few people die throughout the story – including one or two due to foul play. The show would likely warrant a PG13 rating.
I've haven't seen this yet, though I want to. I was planning on watching it on PBS, but something was going on the night the first episode aired and I missed it. I didn't want to try to catch up so I decided I'd just get it through Netflix when it came out on DVD. :) Which I guess will be soon!
I never know how close the DVD and Netflix are, but I do know the DVD came out last week (in the States), so here's hoping it's a close turnaround! Cannot wait to get your thoughts, Kristin. Let me know what you think when you see it, or you know, write a blog about it. ;)
I was really looking forward to watching Poldark until I saw what the books were about. They seemed more like a soap opera then anything and it kinda turned me against the show. :P
That's okay! Nothing wrong with that. I can kinda see that aspect to the show (I've not read the books), but really, if you like Downton Abbey, this is no more soap opera-ish that that. Really, a lot of period dramas do have that kind of tone to their stories. Just because, there is a LOT going on. But, again, I understand that. Sometimes I'd rather watch something simple and pretty without "too much" drama. :D
I love this show! It may even rival Downton Abbey…I'm also glad they didn't sap up the romance as well and not stereotype either women; Elizabeth and Demelza are great characters and it's great to see a story that can survive without an overdone love triangle. (I do feel bad for Elizabeth, though. She's so innocent of everything)
I do too, Ivy! I'm pretty sure (so far) both are on equal footing for me. But, I am loving where Poldark is going thus far. It's amazing. The cast, the characters, the scenes… all of it is beautiful. Like you, I am please by the lack of stereotypes and am glad both Elizabeth and Demelza are independent on their own. Their friendship is definitely sweet, and I'm glad the writer's are working towards stronger relationships between the families. :)
Thanks for commenting!
This one was SO tempting to me … the costumes (and I admit, the cast) look gorgeous –and it's the 1700s! ^_^ But there's a reason why I haven't gotten into Downton Abbey and all those other beautiful costume dramas (no time at the moment). But I definitely want to give them a shot later. =)
I hear you! Having time is vital to these kind of dramas. I make time for things like this (i.e., British dramas) because they're worth it, but I don't want to think about the number of American shows I've started and have as yet to finish the first season for. ;) It's pretty embarrassing. Whenever you do see these, hope you enjoy both! :)
I'm glad Ross doesn't move backwards… I was anxious about that, and still not quite secure, so I'm glad to know that's not something I need to dread. I'm really enjoying Poldark so far, so much that I'm thinking of reading the books! My only complaint is that the episodes move too quickly for my taste, but I imagine the books would be more in-depth.
He doesn't… and Lizzie, like you, I'm beyond relived. Sometimes I get sooo mad at the hero for "giving in" where a former flame is concerned. The series does move swiftly, and I think the books span, is it over 20 years…? I'm not sure. But BBC is currently planning 5 series, which means perhaps the series will tweak the timeline rather than age up the characters? We've been gushing about this series on Twitter and I'm definitely tempted to read the books! I might have to get one at B&N next time I get in there. Hope you continue to enjoy this series, Lizzie. :)
This show has quickly become one of my all-time favorite new finds of the year; I'm so glad you enjoyed it as much as I did!! And I completely agree…there is a quality to the production that just screams to be compared to those released in the hay-day of the classic period drama. Though I find all of the character developments and interactions to be both intriguing and endearing, it is, predictably, the dynamic between Ross and Demelza that is my favourite aspect. The respectful and wildly romantic treatment of the evolution of their love story was touching and never once did it veer into in-appropriate or raunchy territory. However, I was very surprised when I also ended up liking and emphasizing with Elizabeth as well, at least in the first few episodes.
Another major thing I want to bring up that I think they did a wonderful job with is the portrayal of Ross Poldark himself. No matter how amazing he usually is, there were moments when he was also a real jerk, something I actually found rather refreshing; the writers have chosen to show Ross in all his flawed glory, and though his actions at times did cause disappointment, they were also human, and real, which I appreciated.
Ross’ servants provided some HILARIOUS comic relief I also really enjoyed, but I can’t end this comment without mentioning his sweetheart of a cousin. Verity is my third favourite character in this show; her friendship with Ross, and then Demelza, was beautiful to watch unfold, and the romance they gave her just lovely. My favourite episode, hands down, was number 4, and my favourite scene when Demelza sings at Trenwith. That song is just so beautiful, and brilliantly perfect in the way it encapsulated the relationships between each of the couples on the show.
Cannot wait to see what they have in store for us in Season 2!
Eleanor, hi! Glad you joined in this discussion. I'm likewise thrilled to read you liked the series. It's nice to see British productions reverse to the "old days," isn't it? Don't get me wrong, I adore the later era period productions, too, but sometimes these "classic" beauties are a must. Well done to the writers who adapted this. The romance is on-point, and as you say, it's nice to see a romance that is a bit of a "tease" but NEVER raunchy. It's really beautiful how they developed it. :)
I love Ross – flaws and all. He's an amazing character and easily liked for his wise decisions, morals and yes, even mistakes. He surprised me at times and didn't always take the paths I anticipated, which I loved. As you say, it's appreciated by fans, and I think that's part of the reason we've loved this series so very much. Here's hoping that Ross continues to be a good albeit flawed hero in the rest of the series.
I peobably didn't even mention Verity, but YES, she's a sweetheart of a character who deserves to be remembered. I loved that she thinks of others, how readily and perfectly she accepts and helps Demelza, as well as how her story ends. She's lovely. And, yes, episode four is beautiful! It's an important turning point for everyone – for Ross to realize how fortunate he is to have his wife's love and for his family to recognize how terribly they've misjudged Demelza (minus Verity, of course who kindly welcomed her to begin with).
Season two cannot come soon enough! :)
I'm really intrigued by this because of the actor (loved him in THE HOBBIT movies), but also because of the premise. Thanks for sharing since this is the first time I have heard of it! Maybe it will come to Netflix soon and I can watch it.
Haven't seen The Hobbit movies though I know everyone loves them. :) But this cast is amazing, Laura. If/when you see Poldark, I hoep you enjoy. :)
All of this sounds lovely, except the content gives me a slight pause. I'll have to check it out and see what I think. It's probably on my dvr since I record all of the Masterpiece shows. :)
I understand. For me, this was one of the more tastefully produced costume dramas. Yes, there are some sensual scenes, but they never become "raunchy." However, it's definitely not as clean as something like North and South. If you do see it, happy watching, Tressa. It's as lovely as all of the teasers claim. :)
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