I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

27 November 2012

The Paradise (BBC/PBS Masterpiece) Period Drama

Image from screen capture of BBC One's The Paradise

I've recently fallen in love with a new BBC One period drama. It's based on "The Ladies' Paradise" (Original title: Au bonheur des dames ) by Emile Zola. I'll readily admit I have NOT read the book, but I did just order the Kindle edition in English and look forward to reading it. I don't even care if the period drama was nothing like the book, that's how good the series was.  (I fully believe in license to make dramas or films that respect the books but take liberties that do not totally destroy the original work, so maybe that helps.)

The Paradise is an eight part period drama, I'm not for certain when PBS Masterpiece will run it in the US, but it was great.  I think I need to re-watch it from beginning to end to ensure I caught everything that happened, as I tended to watch this when my husband was asleep in bed snoring, or when children were in the middle of coming in and going out after nap time.  I did not have the benefit of subtitles, so I did miss a small bit of dialogue after trying over and over again to hear a bit I missed. The cast is absolutely stellar. The producers could not have done better. (The DVD is coming out on December 3rd on!!!)

The Paradise began airing on BBC One on 25 September 2012. They ran one episode each week for the last eight weeks.  I am rather pleased to hear that there has been an order for a second Series (Season for the Americans) - as the first ended abruptly with no real answer on how we will move forward (Miss Glendenning or Miss Lovett? Oh Moray!! Make up your mind finally!)

The basic premise of the story is about Miss Denise Lovett becoming an orphan and having two siblings she has to take care of. She moves to the North of England with her Uncle, Edmund Lovett, in hopes that he will have a job for her at his Dressmaker's shop. Things don't quite work out that way, when she finds out about the new department store called "The Paradise" that moved in right across the street. (They did an absolutely wonderful job with their reproductions, antiques and making the shops look well stocked. You can read about that here.)

Long story short, she gets a job at The Paradise, hired by the widower Mr. Moray. As the story progresses, we learn about the loss of his wife, his dalliance (as was pretty usual in those times) with Clara (and finding out she has a daughter in the Orphanage that she pays rent on), Moray's girlfriend and later fiance Miss Glendenning, the conniving Mr. Jonas and his back story with the former Mrs. Moray, Arthur - a child who was born in The Paradise (we still do not know his complete story), and what in the world is Lord Glendenning going to do once he finds out what Moray is up to.

There is some language (PG probably? I'm not such a good gauge at this with having learned the EU policies - I'd say it's 6+ on most episodes and 12+ on a couple others), talk about an illicit relationship, and there was some insinuation that Moray and Glendenning had some relations together after becoming engaged.  - Again, very typical for that time-frame. (It was mostly off screen.) I'm not excusing it or making it "ok" at all - I'm just stating a fact.

The bulk of the story centers on the shops across from The Paradise, the department store itself, the workers in the shop and how they lived, and the inner workings of the changing classes of England at the time.

I really like that the characters of Denise and Catherine are so very strong women. I love that Miss Audrey softens and tells her story a bit, and why she never married. (I do wonder if she ever will by story's end?) I feel very much for Clara, and for her daughter. I think I may have cried several times in the episode where we learned her back story.

I am afraid I'm sharing a bit too much hear so I better shut up... I don't normally get to talk about "my shows" with anyone else.

If you loved period dramas such as Upstairs-Downstairs, Downton Abbey, or PBS "Reality TV" productions such as 1900 House, 1940s House, The Edwardian Country House, Regency House Party (I really loved this one being an Austen fan myself), Frontier House, Colonial House and Texas Ranch House -- you may like The Paradise.

Next period drama on my list - Downton Abbey. I've had it in my queue for a while, and I'm certainly interested to see how things play out, considering many of my online and "IRL" (in real life) friends have enjoyed the series. I've kept tabs on things and series three is due out very soon.

Are there any Period Dramas you particularly enjoy watching?

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