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.