SLIDER

The Paradise, Series Two (2013)


Back when I saw the first season of this pretty piece of candy, it took the entire 8-episode span to convince me its material was… clever. At the start of the second series, an entire year has passed and the ambitious John Moray (Emun Elliott) has been exiled to Paris after spurning his fiancée, Katherine Glendenning (Elaine Cassidy) and subsequently giving up ownership of his prized possession – The Paradise. A well-to-do shopper’s haven, Katherine’s father took over ownership after Moray broke his daughter’s heart and now it’s in Katherine’s hands. Embarrassed and heartbroken over her ruined alliance with Moray – and for being tossed aside for a shop girl, Katherine has since married a widower and military man, Tom Weston (Ben Daniels) whose own past is shady and full of secrets.

With the death of her father, the Weston’s now have the Paradise and are settling into Katherine’s childhood home, which is no longer full of joy thanks to her cold husband. This drives Katherine to transfer her energies into raising Tom’s daughter and prompts her to send for Moray to again be the manager of the store. Though apart, the love between Moray and the young shop girl, Denise (Joanna Vanderham) has blossomed. Over letters, the two reaffirm their love and upon his return Denise accepts his marriage proposal though she is in no rush to marry lest she have to give up her newly-appointed promotion at The Paradise. When the return of Jonas stirs up old feelings of resentment, financial strains and clandestine meetings, a game of wits is waged.

TV SERIES REVIEW | The Paradise, Series One


One thing you should know up front about these characters is that while there are lines drawn between good and evil, all of the characters are manipulating someone to their advantage. Figuring out motives is tough, the guesswork in that sense is genius because though we know there is an endless bid to gain advantage, we’re always hesitant to what ends that ambition will swing. Having gotten that out of the way, I will say that I still quite adore The Paradise. It’s not just a sweet confection that is pretty to look at, there’s darkness around corners and fretful personalities who aren’t above allowing secrets to go to the grave should that prove necessary.

Some faces are missing this season – like Katherine’s father, and there are some new characters who adequately replace them. In place of the silly shop girl, Pauline is now Susy, a girl who may be dense, but grew up without advantages and of course there is the return of the main characters in addition to Clara and Dudley. The most unforgivable add-in was the pursuit of more politically correct material – the girls encounter a feminist (and more) as well as an introduction to a photographer who catches Clara’s eye yet is perhaps an addition so as not to be outdone by Downton Abbey. Denise changes the most drastically in this season and grows all the more comfortable in her role, so much so it makes us pause and wonder if she and Moray will end up being nothing more than lovers who will never commit. In that respect there is a sense of resolution at the end of season two, especially knowing what had come before Denise’s brilliant plan to help “fix” matters.

Ironically, there is a shift of personalities and in some sense power, where Denise gains more power (and if possible, more confidence) Katherine becomes a figure of pity. She has her moments of bitter resentment that leave us with a bad impression yet overall, it’s almost as if we regret her not getting what it was she always wanted. Almost. Mostly, I was still not as fond of her as other characters. The Paradise is part complex study and if analyzed beyond its surface (which is dazzling), it can reveal ugly secrets and what’s more, unfortunate characters. That being said, I have enjoyed its brief two-season run. This series has heartwarming instances of joy (including an imaginative episode that involves a “haunting” event at the store or a script that brings all of the workers together to jointly put on a stage performance) or getting caught up in the moments between Denise and Moray even if I don’t always respect their love story.
                                                                                                                                  
Fellow costume drama aficionados, what’d you think of the second and final season? Did you like it better than prior installments or was it on the same playing field…
 
Or fans who have finally seen season one, what did you like or dislike about this series? Thoughts are always welcome!

(Parental review: it’s implied an unmarried couple is intimate and a married man propositions more than one woman. Much ado is made over a bi-sexual character [for one episode] and there is one same-sex kiss. There is some minor violent content.)

26 comments

  1. I liked season two, but I think I like season one better.
    Do you know if there is going to be a third season?

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    1. Overall, I probably enjoyed the first season better as well, Ella. Both sure were pretty though! No, it won't be back, the series has been cancelled. In a way, it would have been nice to get one more season to firm up things, however it was a nice run and thankfully, neither season ended on a terrible cliffhanger.

      Glad you enjoyed this one, Ella! Wonder what the BBC will bring us next?? :)

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    2. Thanks Rissi!!!
      I thought it was probably canceled since I couldn't found out anything about another season online.

      I haven't heard about new bbc shows, but ABC has some new shows starting in the fall that look good.

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    3. It's sad to see because these period dramas are gorgeous, and despite some flaws here and there (which everything has), they are superior. :)

      Here's hoping BBC brings us some new goodness. What ABC shows are you anticipating?

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    4. The Quest, Selfie, and Agents of Shield: Agent Carter. Also I am looking forward to ONCE season four.
      What about you?

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    5. Ooo, The Quest sounds interesting! That was the only one I hadn't heard of. The fact that Karen Gillan is in Selfie means - oh yeah - I am curious, and of course, I adore anything Marvel, only it could be a little bit sad to see Peggy without Steve. Once should be epic this year - I mean, Elsa IS coming! :D

      Hmm... let's see, what am I looking forward to. Well, I'm delighted that all of my favorites were renewed and am curious about ABC Family's 'Mystery Girls,' 'Constantine,' (because of Lucy Griffiths) 'Emerald City,' (more miniseries than show) 'Forever,' 'Gotham,' NCIS, New Orleans,' and 'Stalker' (what can I say, I'm a fan of mystery! ;D). Some of the shows I'm interested in because of the cast and will become uninterested in once I read more about them, but some could be new favorites. Gotta' love the new TV seasons, right?? Even if I never try any, it's fun to read about what's coming. :)

      ...and I was just reading about 'Galavant.' Huh. Wonder how that will go over?? ;)

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    6. I hadn't heard of some of those shows so I will have to check them out.

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    7. It's fun to read about the new shows, even if they wind up not being for us. :)

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  2. You know, I was up and down all the way through both seasons. By the end of season 2, I have to admit I was mostly bored of Denise and Moray. I feel like they just lost their spark and likability...whereas Katherine started to tug majorly on my sympathy by the end. I did enjoy watching both seasons, but I can't say I was disappointed (or all that surprised) when it was cancelled. Still, I enjoyed watching it...loved the costumes and the overall brightness of the show and its set. There was a lot to watch and enjoy...I just didn't connect as well with the characters as I have in some other shows.

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    1. That was my feeling for pretty much the entire series run, Melissa. I mean, sure I enjoyed both season one and two, however it just didn't "grab" my attention the same as some of BBC's other delights. Like you say, we lost some of our fondness for Denise and became more sympathetic with Katherine (there were times when I nearly wished Moray did truly love her, and she was able to win him back), but then she'd do something that bugged me. Same with Denise. Really, I think we even felt sorry for Moray in this season whereas in one, we felt more like he was, well, a player.

      It might have been nice to get a third series just to have a more "solid" ending, but overall, I'm with you. I won't miss this terribly much. It was pretty and I liked the storyline (the first department store), however it had flaws. :)

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  3. I really enjoyed season 1 of The Paradise and was so disappointed that the show was cancelled. When did Season 2 air? I definitely want to see it. Thanks for the review Rissi. Without it I would not have known Season 2 is available to watch. I am in the U.S. by the way.

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    1. Far as I know, this hasn't aired in the states yet, Laurie. I saw it through a region 2 DVD set, however I know there are sites where you can watch this online. Hope you can find it.

      Season two is different in many respects though it still retains some of its charm and oh my, the costumes!!!

      Enjoy, Laurie. :)

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    2. That's what I loved Rissi - the costumes!! Ohhhhh....those costumes. Moray and Dudley were dashing in those suits. Thanks so much for the info.

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    3. Me, too, Laurie! Ahh... they were just gorgeous. And I agree, Moray and Dudley were indeed dashing. Amazing what a well dressed male lead can do for a costume drama! ;)

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  4. I watched season 1 of this when it aired on PBS, but honestly, I didn't like it very much. Well, let me rephrase that...I enjoyed it enough while watching it, but I didn't feel connected to the characters and I never really rooted for Denise and Moray's relationship. I probably won't ever rewatch it, and I won't watch season 2, just because it's not a favorite. I can't explain why, but I just found it sort of disappointing and bland.

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    1. Season one was good. I didn't mind it in the least despite the flaws, however season 2 was different than its first and because of that, our sympathies shifted.

      ...and I get what you're saying. Being an aficionado of this genre, I *really* liked the series, but did struggle with some of the characters. Certainly Denise wasn't always the "best" heroine. If you don't care to ever see S1 again, then, yeah, you probably wouldn't be a fan of season two. It's not quite as "good" as its first season.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kristin!

      PS: did you watch Mr. Selfridge?

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  5. As much as I was rooting for Denise and Moray, I actually didn't like series two as much as one. The first series had a light, more romantic, will they won't they, feel to it than the second one. Sometimes you just need fluff in your life, you know? I felt like it was trying too hard to be more dramatic with series two. As much as I loved the first series, I can't say I'm surprised that it was cancelled either.

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    1. Well said, Renee. I liked season two, however there was a powerful shift in viewers sympathies and all of our thoughts about certain characters had to be reevaluated.

      I do know - fluff is my favorite thing! It's why I read the books I do. :)

      Glad you shared your thoughts, Renee. As you said, it's really not all that surprising this got cancelled - wonder what BBC will have for us this year?? Eager to read about their newbies. :)

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  6. I adored series one of The Paradise and the unfolding romance between Moray and Denise, but I wasn't so fond of series two. I liked Denise's character less and less, almost felt sorry for Moray a few times and the secondary characters were also not as interesting as in series one.

    It's very strange actually, because I also watched Mr Selfridge of which I wasn't too fond of the first series, but I really love the second one I'm watching now!!

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    1. Yeah, that seems the general thought, Birdie. It's too bad because The Paradise was really sweet in its own way back when it began, and at the end, as you point out, our sympathies shifted which wasn't such a nice feeling. In the end, I think I was still happy for Denise and Moray. Mostly.

      That IS ironic. I've got S2 of Selfridge to watch but haven't gotten to it. Maybe this weekend I'll begin that journey. :)

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  7. I'm watching season one of this right now, so I skimmed over most of your talk of what's happening in the second season, but yay! I'm really enjoying it right now. I'm quite sad there are only two seasons, since I'm liking it so much, but I'm glad to see you've said it's not terribly open-ended. :)

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    1. ...and again, HOW did I miss your comment, Rachel!? Ugh. This is the second time I've done this - see this is why I now have comment moderation on older posts; so I don't miss a thing! I'm glad to know you were enjoying this and hope you continued to. :)

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  8. Terribly disappointed in Season II. dialogue and plots were mediocre. Denise--a strong character, sort of wilted every week. It got so boring, I didnt really care anymore. I had such high expectations after Season I. At least it ended on a decent note. Wish they'd tie up the ending of The House of Elliot.

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    1. Denise did change in season two, I agree, Nicole. On some level, it'd have been nice to have a third season (to see how the writer's would change things) and on another, I'm glad it ended as it did. We can imagine our own ending. As for The House of Elliot, I'm often tempted to watch that one, but alas, I've read it doesn't end completely which leaves me skeptical. Thanks for the visit. :)

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  9. Hi Rissi. Season 2 just wrapped up here in the U.S. and I loved it! I thought it was every bit as good as Season 1. I found myself feeling a little sorry for Katherine—I think it was her sad eyes and the pain of unrequited love that elicited my pity for her. I feel like Denise grew up a bit in Season 2 and I liked her more assertive nature. Clara changed quite a bit too. I really liked her transformation and thought she was a great character. Jonas reminded me of Mr. Slugworth from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory...always creeping around corners and whispering in people's ears. Loved it! I am not happy that the show was cancelled but I think it ended very tastefully and satisfactorily. I think they could have certainly went on to develop the show further. I hope they reconsider and bring it back. I'm going to have to break down and buy it on DVD so I can watch it again and again.

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    1. Same here, Laurie - I felt sorrier for Katherine than I ever did in S1. In the first season, I felt she was manipulative, and she and Moray probably did deserve each other. It's sad to think her husband was cruel to her, though I did enjoy her relationship with her stepdaughter. Yes, Denise certainly did change in this series though I didn't always feel it was for the better or like her - sometimes her method of "dealing" with things didn't do anything to endear her character. Ah, Jonas! That guy is always being creepy, LOL. I remember in S1 being shocked at the mystery turn the show took - like wow!

      Despite the cancellation, I agree. The series ended well enough. We can dream up our own conclusion which is nice and if they do reconsider bringing it back, it might be nice to see a TV special if not a proper series - and I'm so glad you shared your impressions! :)

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