As promised, that one chance viewing of an episode on a flight gave me more reason enough to finish the series and hence this brand, spanking new review. Poldark did not disappoint. Not that I was expecting it to, but I was also not expecting to be in tears by the finale or pulling on my hair during moments of sudden increased tension, or for that matter squeeing with happiness at how surprised I was by the direction of the plot.
Now, I know that this series began it’s journey in book form, written by one Winston Graham in fact, and not only that but has a 1975 television adaptation to its name too. However, I had absolutely no knowledge of the plot so each episode turned out to be one gleeful surprise after another…apart from one or two that I shed a tear during instead. I’m not the only one tooting the horn of success for this show, 5.9 million viewers in the UK tuned into the finale including, The Telegraph’s Allison Pearson who suggested that the commissioned second series should come with the tagline: ‘Poldark 2: Better Than Downton.’
The series begins with Cornish-man Ross Poldark returning from the American Revolutionary War to learn that the life he left behind has changed beyond all recognition. His father dead, his sweetheart betrothed and his estates in ruin, the war veteran must set his life to rights with or without the support of what family remains.
Among the cast of characters there is of course Ross’ previous love by the name of Elizabeth as played by Heida Reed who is a wealthy, upper class English Rose but equally as kind, Ross’ cousin Francis Poldark as played by Kyle Soller is unfortunately for Ross, Elizabeth’s fiance which undoubtedly causes friction…and a serious bout of heartache. However! Before you already cast your judgement and come to the conclusion that this series is yet another period drama with a predictable plot and as equally as predictable plethora of romances I bid you to reconsider. For that is certainly not the case. Not in my personal opinion anyway, for there is bound to be others who would beg to differ.
Throughout my bingeing of Poldark I soon came to realise that all the preconceptions I might have had weren’t going to end up being the case. Elizabeth is the lost flame of love, that much is true but that doesn’t lead us to an almost cliche and overdone story of a scandalous love affair. It was this twist in the tale that really perked my viewing of this show as I had assured myself that I knew all that there was to come. The entire narrative surrounding Demelza is the most endearing I have watched on television in a long time. Demelza is but a lower class young woman trying her very best to escape the clutches of her abusive father and she is pictured in the image above dressing in her brother’s clothes to aide her attempt. It is when Ross hires her as his maid that her story and also their story begins. I shall go no further as to the plot as I always swear not to be a breeding ground for spoilers, but I find that it is Demelza’s character that is my absolute favourite. She is a gloriously beautiful character who is unassuming in her beauty and kindness, her class has made her humble, grateful and unashamedly naive. I not only relate to her character but I truly wish her nothing but happiness…and then remind myself that she is but fictional.
Now, I bring you onto the man himself. Before my thoughts however, I’ll let you indulge in the picture that has had many swooning and has brought with it a little controversy.
Fun Fact: With the new release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I could not help but choose this particular piece of trivia. Caroline Blakiston who plays Aunt Agatha in the series is also known for playing ‘Mon Mothma’ in the intergalactic franchise, more specifically The Return of the Jedi.
Back to the review! Ahh yes, Ross Poldark. I’ve so far not seen Aidan Turner play a role like this which was why I was so surprised and impressed by the transformation. His personality’s inner workings are complex and conflicted, there are times when I doubt even Ross knows who he really is. His character is heavily effected by his situations and surroundings, his smile is glorious when all is well and is in the midst of festivities but just by being in the presence of someone he finds unjust, distasteful or simply irritating brings forth a clipped, arrogant and fiery self that shines through with no worry to his manners nor reputation. This depth and honesty in his character humanises Ross to distinguish the difference in himself and the cruel, selfish and entitled world of the Upper Class in which he was born into and I loved that about the series.
Naturally I have been full of praise for a show that I enjoyed but like anything I do believe that there can be faults. The pacing of the plot has split my opinion, for nearly every episode features an undisclosed substantial time skip that the audience is left to pinpoint by following the visual clues. Now, at times I thought that this transition between episode was genius, for there was so much you wanted to learn when an episode began. However, I did feel that I was missing out on development within the characters, relationships or story that I would have liked to have seen during the months that were passed by in a blip. I also worry that leading the show at such a relentlessness pace will cause for the series to finish far early than it could have…although yet again I’m in two minds as to whether that is a intelligible move by those involved. Perhaps I’m just greedy.
That controversy I mentioned earlier? Well, there are many commentators that believe that the success of Poldark is significantly credited to Aidan Turner and his easy on the eye appearance. Actress Heida Reed has even stated herself that the show has been subject of ‘reverse sexism’, with the focus being Mr. Turner’s abs and not the actual narrative. I’m inclined to disagree, whereas I can appreciate how attractive Turner is and so can millions of others, this is not the sole reason why they tuned in every week; there is far more in the series to be desired by its viewers. Sexual objectification is not a new concept but is of course highlighted when the subject is a man…Mmmmm. Not a subject I wish to elaborate on but you can catch my drift.
All in all I found Poldark to be excitable, emotional and tense, and it featured the most delectable shots of the scenery. I’m glad I caught it when first season had finished to watch it as I didn’t have the horrid weekly wait for each episode. If you enjoyed Outlander then I think like me you’ll enjoy this one too.
What are your thoughts on this series? Have you seen it? Heard of the gossip? Did you cry over the finale? Let me know in the comments! And if you have any recommendations for me then please ply me with more. You can also follow me on Twitter @bingebox for questions, opinions and updates. Thanks for reading!