I am always looking for new period piece shows that are high quality; they are definitely some of my very favorite. Poldark is no exception, though it’s a bit sadder than I would truly prefer for something to call ‘favorite’.
Ross Poldark (played by the very talented and nice-to-look-at Aidan Turner, AKA the ‘hot dwarf’ from The Hobbit) was a Captain in the British army during the Revolutionary War; his family (including his unofficial fiancee) believes him to be dead. So when he shows up years later, they are shocked to see him. And his fiancee, Elizabeth, is now engaged to Ross’ cousin. Ross’ father has passed away, and Ross’ inheritance is in shambles. But Ross decides to revive his fathers’ old mine and breathe new life into his land, which has done a poor job supporting its tenants in Ross’ absence. While in town one day, Ross comes across a boy being harassed by some of the townsfolk. Ross steps in to save him, only to discover that the boy is actually a young woman named Demelza (played by the lovely Eleanor Tomlinson). Demelza is practically feral, but Ross takes her home with him to work in his kitchen, rather than send her home to an abusive father.
Essentially, the show follows the progress of Ross reviving his father’s mine and the land, and Demelza’s beautiful, outstanding, and wondrous transformation (can you tell I like her character?). There’s a bit of frustrating conflict having to do with some fairly evil rich people trying to have a monopoly on pretty much everything, making it very difficult for not only the poor people, who can scarcely feed themselves, but also with the other businessmen who can no longer work and therefore no longer pay their workers because they are forced out of the market.
Ross, though he has his moments of impatience and hate and darkness, is quite a noble man, and is always sacrificing to help others less fortunate than he. His darker side makes him a dynamic character, and it’s great to see Aidan Turner’s spectacular acting in all those different dimensions. He has to go through a lot, and it seems as if the hits just keep coming, unfortunately, but he is not one to give up easily.
Demelza has one of the best character transformations that I’ve seen in a very long time. She starts the show as an urchin, completely uneducated and improper, but still lively; even in that first episode she sang as she skipped with her pet dog, and Ross couldn’t turn her away. Her spark grew as he forced her into dresses and she learns to read and speak properly and dance, and as she learns and grows, she becomes enchanting. Ross, of course, notices this, and becomes enchanted with her as well. I’m so glad they have Eleanor Tomlinson sing all the time as Demelza; her voice is so pure and lovely and just casts a spell that makes everyone love her even more.
While the romance is not the main storyline here, it is certainly an important one. We have a bit of a love triangle, but Ross and Demelza’s relationship outshines any other possibilities. And it is a bright spot amidst many trials, as they lean on each other sweetly for support (and there are many, terrible trials). This is not your typical Jane Austen period piece, where a ridiculously rich, handsome Lord swoops in and saves the day, and where young ladies attend balls in beautiful gowns every five minutes; it is more Dickensian, with the rich generally looked down upon-at least, the greedy and unfair, and recounting the woes of the poor workers (and in this time period, the woes are many) Though Ross and his friends are seen as noble, as they try to provide fair wages and such for their men, and in return, their men prove loyal and hard working.
I would highly recommend Poldark for anyone who likes a bit more serious Period Piece, with a good splash of romance and wonderful character development.
Content: Some disturbing images, violence. Romance: kissing – leading to sex, but not seen onscreen. Recommended for 16+.
4 out of 5 Stars