Review: Poldark Season One & Book

The latest period drama from the BBC, Poldark, has hit PBS’s Masterpiece here in the US. It has beautiful scenery, great period piece costumes and a photogenically blessed cast.

Thus far most of the plot seems to require smoldering, LOTS of smoldering looks, wistful glances and brooding. I’d think we’d wandered into a YA novel if it weren’t for the fact that the series is based off of Winston Graham’s series that began in 1945. However, this bit of Cornwall history is a soap opera in the making and apparently its just getting started as it has already been renewed for a second season.

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Ross Poldark. Image Credit BBC.

Poldark season 1 is based off of the first two books from Winston Graham’s twelve book series. The first book wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t greatness either. Though, to give it credit, it has some great lines. I was curious to see how it compared with the first season, especially since I’ve found the episodes to be very awkwardly paced. Its like the season couldn’t seem to catch its stride and get going. After reading the first book I realized that it’s just as awkward as the drama, so at least its consistent. Though, to give credit to the author, I did enjoy getting to know Verity a little better, and seeing Demelza grow from the 13 year old street urchin to the intelligent lively 17 year old was fun. Its also fun watching Demelza and Ross’s relationship grow considering its inauspicious beginning.

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Demelza. Image Credit BBC.

There’s a lot of personalities in Poldark. Most notably, this series sure has a pile o’ people that you just can’t stand, and probably weren’t meant to like. The old saying goes ‘with friends like that, who needs enemies.’ That phrase could be rewritten to apply the other half of the Poldark family. It would be more like ‘with family like that who needs enemies.’ Elizabeth, Ross’s former flame who marries his cousin, is annoying and whiny. Ross’s uncle berates everything he does, then turns around and says that he wishes Francis was more like him.  Francis gambles away his mine, and eventually the family estate. Yes, he’s a keeper.  Then we have George Warleggan, heir of the cutthroat banking empire and fellow brooding character, he really needs to get his comeuppance.

Elizabeth

Elizabeth. Image Credit BBC.

The common miners and country folk get portrayed as the nice “real” folks who you come to enjoy and appreciate, but to be fair, they do plenty of  berating and gossip mongering of their own. So, nobody’s exempt. Episode 6 of the mini-series had a brilliantly great line from Demelza. She gives a fairly inebriated Ross a well-deserved tongue lashing for thinking that the rich aristocrats are the only bad eggs out there. Nicely done Demelza.

Is it worth your 8 hours?

It has awkward pacing but its worth giving it a try. Its almost like watching a Dickens’ piece, because the protagonist just keeps getting kicked back down to the dirt no matter how hard they try. On the upside, it’s also one for fanservice, as Ross cannot keep his shirt on, ever. Not that we’re complaining.

Ross and Demelza. Poldark

Ross and Demelza. Image Credit BBC.

Best line from the first book

“I like you and have an interest in your welfare. But for all it will affect me you may find your way to the devil by the shortest route. Fortune can provide lands and family but it can’t provide good sense. If you wish to throw away what your have, then throw it away and be damned.” (Ross to Francis, in Ross Poldark by Winston Graham)

Let us know what you think of Poldark. We’d love to hear all about it. Also, does this series remind anyone of the A&E mini-series Lorna Doone, or is that just me? Because it so does.

 

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