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.
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, has moved on. The only person who seems genuinely happy Ross is returned is Verity (Ruby Bentell). Verity has lived 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.
I read somewhere that this is like an ode to the period dramas we were once upon a time spoiled by. No truer statement has ever been made. This is that and then some. The stories may be 100% different, but this is an era and style more reminiscent of North and South and its era of classic dramas. Characters that are amazing and frustrating in equal parts are only one half of the equation to this production. The other quality that coins this as a “classic” (I’m owning that term on behalf of Poldark) is the scenery and sweeping, lush sequences. 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 sophisticated nostalgia. I adored how the romance angles played out, including Ross’ unexpected, shifting affections and respected Ross for letting himself find happiness elsewhere, and furthermore, appreciated the writer’s not moving Ross backwards. 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 and “gritty” drama 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.
Enough of my thoughts. Turning it over to you. I want to hear your good, bad or ho-hum thoughts on Poldark. Comment away.
(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 once and is rebuffed. 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.)