by Brad Nelson 7/10/14
A light series from the UK that may be perfect for those who enjoy dining on Upstairs Downstairs, Masterpiece Theatre, and Downton Abbey. Anglophobes need not apply. But Anglophiles will find something to like.
A cast of interesting, but sometimes lukewarm characters, inhabit this series about England’s first department store, The Paradise. Emun Elliot plays Moray, the dashing capitalist and owner of the store. His costar is Joanna Vanderham who plays one of the young and especially pretty shop girls, Denise.
In this universe of pretty things and proper ladies you find the always-cheerful shop boy, Sam; Clara, another pretty shop girl who is the scheming foil of Denise; Jonas, the stern and mysterious one-armed man who is always watching you; Katherine Glendenning, the head-case love interest of Moray and whose father is a financial backer of The Paradise; Dudley, who is Moray’s friend and right-hand man, and last but not least is Miss Audrey, the proper and past-her-prime spinster who keeps charge over the younger girls and whose very life is her career.
None of the drama or stories here are particularly unique. But for light fare that does not insult and is not vulgar, you will at least get mildly wrapped up in the characters and stories with time.
The strength of the show is more in the antagonists than protagonists. Denise, somewhat blandly acted, is young, smart, ambitious, and willing. Moray (the owner of The Paradise) holds his own as a thoughtful, intelligent, and hard-driving businessman. He’s generally honest, charming, and a good leader. But neither can hold this series on his or her own.
The meat of the series is contained in playing off of the fussy and somewhat dour Miss Audrey, the ever-lurking and dangerous-looking Jonas, and especially the nut-drivingly spoiled headcase of a rich lady, Katherine Glendenning. If you are like me, you will be yelling at the screen “Moray, run as fast as you can from her and marry the cute young blond, Denise.”
Maybe he does. I’ve watched only the first season (and I believe this show is still ongoing). Don’t expect too much and you’ll enjoy it. It’s certainly a fine and enchanting British period piece full of interesting costumes and props. Most of the episodes end on a feel-good note, which in this day and age is somewhat refreshing.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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