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Lark Rise to Candleford, Series One (2008)

Lark Rise to Candleford

This beautiful, entertaining lark was something I was clamoring to find any way to get my hands on. As a continuity airing on British television, the wait was an even longer wait in making its way to the states. Finally it did arrive on DVD and I anxiously bought all four subsequent series.

The Timmins family barely has the means to keep fed and clothed, their children, but on this particular day, their fifth child is born. Robert Timmins (Brendan Coyle) has little work in the area surrounding his small village of Lark Rise, unlike plentiful earlier years. His wife Emma (Claudie Blakely) is determined to lift some of the burden by placing their eldest daughter in an apprenticeship which Robert strongly opposes seeing as Laura (Olivia Hallinan) is his “little girl.” Emma’s cousin is the postmistress in the more cultured town of Candleford and Emma sees in Laura a thirst for knowledge – she sees her daughter is meant for something beyond what her family can give her. Not about to leave without putting up an argument Laura dreads leaving behind her family – and childhood friend Alf (John Dagelish) even as Emma informs her daughter that the arrangements for Laura to move in with cousin Dorcas have been made.

As the only child of the Candleford Postmaster, Dorcas Lane (Julia Sawalha) was left the legacy of the post office from her late father and she feels a certain responsibility to keep it up to standard. Unmarried, Dorcas has a heart of gold who helps anyone in need. With the arrival of Laura, Dorcas is willing to allow some concessions for Laura’s inexperience, but she expects the best from her employees which also includes the devout mail carrier Thomas Brown (Mark Heap) a staunch stickler for the rules. Not long gone from her beloved village, Laura is conflicted when the two villages become hostile with a debate regarding government protocol.

There is so much more going on in this charming little series than one can scribble into  a mere three-hundred word synopsis. There are love triangles, unrequited love and broken hearts, moral struggles and desires of self betterment. Amidst the shows themes, there isn’t any one that stands out as being more prevalent because each episode is independent from the others – or they mostly are. Some do build on the other but its talent is keeping viewers interested week after week with a different story-line that is really about nothing more than the daily lives of these characters. Much of the writing revolves around the day-to-day simple joys that these characters encounter and in that way, perhaps some of you won’t find this up to par with your idea of “good entertainment.”

In addition to the leading characters and top-billed stars, this series also has a host of supporting characters and British talent. There are the Pratt sisters (played by Matilda Ziegler and Victoria Hamilton) and Ben Miles plays the wealthy land owner who once broke Dorcas’ heart not to mention, he's still toying with her affections. Everyone works so well together and it seems like each of these actors really did form a rapport during filming – which may very well have been the case since filming took place for about seven or eight months out of the year for a ten to fifteen episode season. I found the simple changes these characters went through yet another thing to love about the show. It was adorable to see Laura’s progression into, not only adulthood, but also a civilized, charming young woman of the highest quality and coupled with this, experience Dorcas’ wise counseling. Something that does not disappoint in this show is the scripts – each one is thought-provoking.

Another beautiful thing about the production is the costumes, for want of a better term, they're gorgeous. If you are a fan of costume dramas, seeing this should be high on your priority of television series. Honestly, I cannot remember anything that would be of bother for any families’ concerned with content. Nevertheless, the show would likely still be rated ‘PG’ if anything there may be some back-talking from children or the rare innuendo. If you like Wives & Daughters or the more recent When Calls the Heart, then this little gem of a series is not one to be missed. 
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  1. I LOVE Lark Rise!!! I watched the entire series (as in, ALL of them) almost straight through and was completely hooked on it. I get that way with shows - I become "one with the show." Not healthy, but fun. ;) Due to this show, I swear if I ever have a son, I want to name him Alfie. :)

    1. So did (do) I, Kellie! I miss it. :/ This was one of the sweetest, most wholesome series around and I loved that about it! So glad you enjoyed this one also!

      I watch more than one show at a time usually because I watch them on DVD. Sometimes it's fun to switch around. :)

  2. Weren't you so sad when Robert Timmins never reappeared. He was at the heart of the show to me. I now have something to add to my Christmas list since we don't actually own any of these yet. :)

    1. I certainly was, Alison! I missed Brendan's (Robert) character SO much! Ironically he never re-appeared because he took up residence at Downton Abbey. Have you seen that one? It's got more "adult" material than 'Lark Rise' but is equally charming - the first series is PHENOMENAL! Hope this appears under your tree this season: it's an excellent Christmas gift idea. :)

      Thanks bunches for stopping by and commenting, Alison - I really appreciate it. Visit again anytime.

  3. Oh, I loved Lark Rise to Candleford! I even had the theme tune for my ringtone for a while... If I had more time (and if I didn't want to watch so many new series) I would certainly rewatch it!

    Seeing as I read in the comments you already watched all the series, don't you think series 1 was by far the best of the lot?

    1. I think I started re-watching 'Lark Rise' but then got side-tracked by something else! You are so right, Birdienl - there's always something new clamoring for attention ...and yet, I don't really mind. ;)

      I don't know if I'd say the first series was the strongest or not... To say one way or another, I'd probably want to watch them again. There were several things about the latter series that I liked equally well such as the arrival of Minnie or Laura's sweet crush on Daniel. The "real" way it was set up felt genuine in S1 and in that regard, it was priceless. All in all, S1 is definitely a charmer!

  4. This series is close to the top on my to-see list! I have some friends who highly recommend it...and seeing that you say the costumes are awesome is yet another reason to watch it. :) Someday!

    1. Though it may not be the most intelligent, this is a delightful family series, Charity - plus, yes, the costumes are LOVELY. Enjoy!

  5. Oh, goody! I LOVE seeing recommendations for "clean" shows. They are so few and far between, so I'm always on the look-out for them. I've just added the first disc of Lark Rise to my Netflix queue! :)

    I have a list of tv series that I rotate through, watching a single episode from every series each week. I guess it's a habit I carried over from my childhood, when we watched episodes as they aired, one new episode every week. (Back when there were dramas like Promised Land, Early Edition, Dr. Quinn, etc) Anyway, I'm getting to the end of a few series that are in my current rotation, so I'm glad to find something new to try. :)

    I really appreciate your blog, Rissi. It's invaluable, and the short content advisories you give are very helpful in deciding whether or not to try a series. Thank you so much for your time and efforts!!!

    1. This is a perfectly adorable series, Valerie! It makes me sad that it's over now since there was so much more writer's could have worked with. Nevertheless, the ending isn't bad.

      Oh, my gosh! I loved Early Edition. Mom and I watched the DVD sets and am now waiting for S3 to release. It seems to take forever and a day sometimes - and I agree: Finding something new shows to add to that rotation is fun. :)

      Thank you for being a part of the blog's readership, Valerie. It means a lot. And thank you for the feedback - it's nice to know if/what is helpful because that is part of the purpose of these reviews. :)

      I hope you enjoy 'Lark Rise' - let me know what you think!

  6. Though I have only watched the first two seasons in this delightful series, I found them both enchanting. I think one of the things I loved the most is the fact that I was able to recognize almost every single guest star from something else!! Another draw for me is the unique focus of this show; though there is nothing particularly earth-shattering, it does provide plenty of clean, wholesome fun based around the intersecting daily lives of people you quickly grow to love. Something else I especially appreciated was the addition of profound philosophies or themes as the basis for each episode.

    When it comes to the romance, while he only (sadly) appeared in just one episode, James Delafield was my absolute favourite as a potential match for Dorcas. As for Laura, I fell in love with Fisher Bloom from the first, and have never really gotten over it. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks for the great review!

    God Bless
    Eleanor Rose

    1. I agree, Eleanor; the series was awesome. I liked seeing all the familiar faces (Lydia from Pride & Prejudice was so fun!) and of course grew to love Laura's heroine. Wholesome entertainment was the best draw, definitely. Plus as you say, it was nice to have the quiet story-telling in an age of high-stakes adventure.

      Which one was James? Was he the schoolteacher...? I cannot remember who he was. I particularly liked the schoolteacher and my heart broke when he had to leave. Fisher was perfect as a match for Laura. He was my favorite also (if memory serves me right). I did wind up liking that Dorcas adopted a child. That was a nice thing for her and seemed to make her feel so much more complete. :)

      Thanks for your thoughts! Always glad to have you stop by. :)

  7. Yes, James was the schoolteacher. The main people I blame for his never-should-have-occurred departure are definitely those poisonous Pratt sisters, but also Sir Timothy, the jerk; just when Dorcas finally finds someone she really connects with on all levels, he has to intervene to make sure she remains alone and as miserable as he.

    But, at least she finally does get some semblance of a family life with her adopted child, and later Gabriel (though I think it would have been even more perfect if they could have brought James back!) And yay, I'm so glad you like Fisher as much as I do!!

    God Bless
    Eleanor Rose

    1. Yay! I remembered right. :)

      Ugh. Yes! One of my biggest story pet peeves is when once an ex-lover has moved on (or thinks they have the right to be happy), then is jealous, upset, what-have-you when the other person is about to move on. I've seen it time and again and no. Just no. It shouldn't happen - especially since it's used just for more friction.

      I did love James.

      Yes. I like it when shows bring back loved characters in the final season. For instance The Mentalist is ending and will be bringing back two of its fan favorite characters in the finale. That's a nice touch and way to end a show.

      Indeed I did. Despite the girls ending up with maybe not our favorite heroes, I'm glad the show ended well. Maybe we could lobby for a Christmas special to catch up with these characters! :)

  8. Couldn't agree more about the whole ex-lover thing; I mean, it only made him seem really unlikable, and aside from the fact that they grew up together and were childhood sweethearts, I can not understand what she sees in him. But you know who I really feel sorry for? His wife. I mean, imagine being married to a guy, then having to watch him spend copious amounts of time everyday with a former girlfriend, who he is obviously still in love with!

    Yay for that news about The Mentalist; thanks for telling me! Is it Van Pelt and Rigsby, by any chance?

    A Christmas Special would be amazing!! And something I could definitely get behind.

    God Bless,
    Eleanor Rose

    1. Thank you! I'm glad not to be alone in this whole cliché plot line. Ugh. It's really annoying and I do wish the waters hadn't been muddied. LRtoC was so beautiful, then there was that. *sigh* I felt sorry for Timothy's wife often too. The poor woman didn't seem to be anything but sincere (or that's my memory) and as you say, here her husband was... still trying to convince his sweetheart they had something!

      BBC should get on board with a Christmas special. That would be fun. Plus I just want to catch up with these people. Although perhaps Laura's dad wouldn't be able to return... he is busy as a valet and trying to clear his wife's name, after all. ;)

      Oooh, you're a Mentalist fan too!? I guess if I knew that, I forgot. Yes, it is Van Pelt and Rigsby! I'm so very excited. Love that they're returning to help close the show. Or I am so long as the writers don't ruin their happy ending. :)

      Thanks - as always, for the fun comments, Eleanor. :)


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