Monday, April 28, 2014

The Paradise (TV Series, Season One)

I'd heard about The Paradise (TV series) from other bloggers such as Miss Elizabeth Bennet at Elegance Of Fashion and was interested so when I saw it had been recently added to Netflix I immediately started watching Season One completely enjoyed it! When I'd finished the first season I watched it over again!
There are many connections to Lark Rise To Candleford (TV Series) so if you love that you'll probably like this series too! 

Story: When young Denise Lovett comes from Scotland to stay with her dressmaker uncle he cannot afford to employ her so she seeks work across the street at one of England's first department stores The Paradise. Entering the glittering world of The Paradise is daunting at first but soon Denise's imagination starts to soar with merchandising ideas that make her manager Miss Audrey jealous and the stores owner Mr. Moray sit up and take notice. Mr. Moray has troubles of his own which include financing his ever growing store, romancing a wealthy socialite and battling rumors of how his first wife died.

Music: The very catchy theme song as well as the rest of the lovely music was composed by Maurizio Malagnini. All music fits the scenes perfectly and is delightfully appropriate for the period.

Costumes: The costumes in this miniseries are absolutely gorgeous! The dresses particularly worn by Katherine Glendenning are quite extravagant, colorful and stylish. As business people each character at The Paradise are dressed very smart and the ready made clothing they sell are the latest styles. Most outfits seem new to the series although I think I recognized one or two dresses from Lark Rise To Candleford.

Scenes: The glittering world of The Paradise was shot on location at Lambton Castle a grand place that transformed into an apartment store. Also the Glendenning estate was shot at Biddick Hall not too far away. The Paradise is resplendent and filled with props and decorations that makes the viewer really want to go shopping! The floral wallpaper in the Ladies Wear section where Denise works is quite exquisite and reminds me of something similar I've seen before. Each scene is period drama eye candy at it's best - so full of color, pattern, texture and overall stunning beauty!

Questionable Content: To me the first episode seems like the worst because you're just meeting the characters and there are many rumors especially about Mr. Moray's seductive ways. As the series progresses and you learn more about each character there is less scandalous notions. It is true many ladies are attracted to Mr. Moray and a couple even throw themselves at him but most of it is talk and nothing is shown. There are situations of unwed mothers, unhappy marriages and adultery mentioned as part of the story. There is some heavy kissing between some of the characters from time to time, also some of the dress necklines are a bit low.  No outstanding language is used that I can recall.

Actors & Characters:
  • Joanna Vanderham as Denise Lovett - A pretty young shopgirl with new ideas on how to promote business. She is the main character and a lot of the action is seen through her eyes. Joanna is a brilliant young actress and you instantly are drawn into her life at The Paradise. She is so very clever but has to hold in some of her ideas and does make some bad decisions from time to time but always learns from her mistakes. 
  • Peter Wight as Edmund Lovett - Denise's uncle and owner of a small tailor shop across the street from The Paradise. He is a kindly man and a good friend to the workers at The Paradise. His business suffers due to the success of the store opposite him but his fine work is still admired. He's a lovely character although his poetry is quite awful, haha! Peter Wright is easily recognizable from his other period drama work: Old Amos in Lark Rise To Candleford, Mr. Gardiner in Pride & Prejudice (2005), Admiral Croft in Persuasion (2007) and Joseph Rushton from Titanic (BBC TV series). 
  • Emun Elliott as John Moray - Owner of The Paradise who has built it up and modernized it. His wife is three years dead but he fiercely holds onto her memory. His winning personality inspires his employees and charms his customers into big purchases. He's so handsome but I wasn't sure whether to like him or not at first but as the rumors about him are confirmed or disproved I liked him better.
  • Elaine Cassidy as Katherine Glendenning - A rich socialite with eyes for Moray. She is used to getting her way which is sometimes good and sometimes gets her into deeper trouble. She has good qualities and the prettiest clothes but can be quite selfish. Elaine Cassidy's character here is nothing like her character in A Room With A View (2007) but I still enjoy her in this series for the most part. 
  • Patrick Malahide as Lord Glendenning - Prosperous banker and Katherine's father, she can often convince him to give her want she wants but he does have a good deal of sense. He backs The Paradise financially but his business dealings with Moray are sometimes marred by the rocky relationship between Katherine and the shop owner. Patrick Malahide is a brilliant actor who I love seeing in period dramas! He often plays sort of villains and it's nice to see him play this interesting character! 
  • Sarah Lancashire as Miss Audrey - Head of the Ladieswear department and Denise's supervisor. She demands respect and upright character from the shop girls but in return she mothers them a bit and gives good advice. She does feel threatened a bit by Denise and her grand ideas and can be a bit harsh toward her but overall she is a fairly likable character. If you listen to Sarah Lancashire long enough you will definitely recognize her as the voice of the Older Laura Timmins who narrates some of the story in the Lark Rise To Candleford TV series! Also if you are a Doctor Who fan you will recognize her as Miss Foster the Atipose nanny in the episode "Partners In Crime".   
  • Matthew McNulty as Dudley - Moray's business assistant and long time friend who is often the cautious voice in the risks Moray likes to take. Because I've only seen Matthew McNulty as the dubious Edward Bell in Return To Cranford I tended to distrust him at first but he's really a very nice character once you get to know him. Wait a minute! Matthew McNulty also played Fisher Bloom in Lark Rise To Candleford! No wonder I don't like him...
  • Ruby Bentall as Pauline - A cheerful shop girl and Denise's best friend in the store. It is so nice to have Ruby Bentall in this series! I loved her as Minnie in Lark Rise To Candleford and the character of Pauline is very similar although a bit more worldly in some ways. She is very sweet and such a delight in each scene! 
  • David Hayman as Jonas - He is in charge of security at The Paradise and he's a man of mystery. He has a tragic history but the former Mrs. Moray gave him a chance and now he fiercely guards her memory. He is always writing down secrets in his mysterious journal and keeps everyone on their toes. How far will he go to protect The Paradise is a question most will not dare ask! Actor David Hayman is a Scotsman so his neat accent is very real, I've seen him in a couple other things and he is great at being quite creepy!
  • Stephen Wight as Sam - He is a young salesclerk on the shop floor and a very fun character. He becomes a good friend to Denise and her uncle but it's hard to tell whether he likes Denise, Pauline or Clara best which does cause some tears. He's very kind and one of my favorite characters in the series!
  • Sonya Cassidy as Clara - An anxious shop girl with a troubled past, she instantly takes a dislike to Denise and causes problems for her throughout the series. She has eyes for Mr. Moray which does cause a couple uncomfortable scenes, she has secrets of her own and sometimes has to bend her pride to accept Denise's help. Not one of my favorite characters but she does add drama!
  • Finn Burridge as Arthur - A young apprentice and messenger at the store, Arthur was born at The Paradise and has lived there ever since. He knows most everything there is to know about the store and helps Denise get settled in when she first arrives. It's hard to not like Arthur, he's sweet and cheeky but sometimes gets in trouble from knowing too many secrets.

Season One, Special Guests:
  • Olivia Hallinan as Jocelin Brookmire - You'll instantly recognize her from Lark Rise To Candleford but it's a bit odd to see her play a rich socialite that is more like Lady Adelaide than the independent country girl Laura Timmins. Her character is nervy and holds secrets from even her best friend Katherine Glendenning. Olivia Hallinan is brilliant as always!
  • Arthur Darvill as Bradley Burroughs - You should recognize this brilliant actor as Edward "Tip" Dorrit in Little Dorrit, but if you adore him as Rory Williams in Doctor Who (like I do! aww!) you will be a bit disappointed by his role here because Burroughs is selfish, thinks he's all that and creeps out the lady customers a bit. Burroughs is the local barber who agrees to sell his shop to Moray on condition he is made partner in The Paradise. What happens next is a bit bizarre but it does generate some brilliant comments from Pauline! 
  • David Bamber as Charles Chisholm - He's another local shop owner who sees business drop due to the success of The Paradise. He's a bit comical but David Bamber is no less brilliant than he usually is. You will recognize him from his roles in Pride & Prejudice (1995), Miss Potter, The King's Speech and Daniel Deronda to name a very few!
  • Mark Bonnar as Peter Adler - The philanthropic head of a foundling home (or orphanage), he is kind, handsome, well bred, very talented and somehow foolishly falls for Katherine Glendenning. It's nice for Moray to have a bit of competition and Mr. Adler does seem to bring out some of Katherine's better qualities. He is in a few episodes but I wish he were in many more because he's a great character! Ha, he's also in Doctor Who! 

Lark Rise To Candleford Similarities:
So partway through my first viewing of the series besides recognizing five of the actors from "Lark Rise" there also began to be something familiar in the way the lines were formed and said as well as the way the scenes were filmed. This sparked my curiosity so I looked it up and sure enough the show's creator/writer/producer is Bill Gallagher who wrote/produced/directed the Lark Rise To Candleford series! No wonder The Paradise was sounding/looking so familiar and seemed rather like an old friend! Many of the costumes were created by Phoebe De Gaye who worked on "Lark Rise" too.
There is also many similarities in the storyline and type of characters. Both series feature a young lady who leaves home and enters a career as the main character. Denise Lovett is independent, creative, opinionated and has several love interests like Laura Timmins. Shop owner Mr. Moray reminds me of a cross between postmistress Dorcas Lane and entrepenuer James Dowland. Miss Audrey reminds me Miss Pearl Pratt. Sam reminds me a bit of Alf Arless. Katherine Glendenning reminds me of Lady Adelaide. Mr. Dudley reminds me a bit of Mr. Timmins. And of course Pauline reminds me of Minnie! Perhaps the similarities between The Paradise and the beloved Lark Rise To Candleford might explain why it was not quite as popular and only made it to two season, but the storyline is perhaps not quite as interesting.

My Thoughts: Well, I wasn't sure about the series at first glance, it does have some slightly questionable themes snuck in from time to time and the story progresses at an odd rate, but as I got into the series I found myself enjoying it more and more! It is a beautifully filmed series with wonderful actors and clever characters. There are some very clever lines and some very sweet moments too! After finishing the first series I really wanted to watch the next series but it's not available yet so instead I just started the first series over again! It's surprising how many little signs and moments I missed the first time that I caught on my second viewing. Definitely a new favorite series for me though I know it's not for everyone.

My Recommendations: There are some PG-13 themes mentioned from time to time but overall the series is fairly clean - the first episode is unfortunately the worst as far as the underlying theme of scandal goes. I do recommend the series, especially if you like Lark Rise To Candleford and Downton Abbey then you will enjoy The Paradise!

Have you seen The Paradise, Season One?
Which characters are your favorites?
Have you seen any of Season Two?


Naomi Bennet said...

I simply HAVE to see this!
Thank you for the brilliant review! (we are watching Lark Rise now, and I love it, so I'm sure I'll love this one too-- eeek I really want to see it!)

Birdie said...

Great review! I watched and loved the first series of The Paradise. I also watched the second series, but I wasn't as fond of that...

Elisa said...

I watched the series when it first broadcasted on PBS's "Masterpiece" and enjoyed it!
If you'd like a leg up on the TV series, it's based on the novel "The Ladies Paradise" (French title: "Au Bonheur des Dames") by Emile Zola. I had to read the novel for a history class during my junior year in college.
Not to give anything away, the novel delves into the store's place against the backdrop of Baron Haussman's revitalization project of late 19th century Paris. It's done on a smaller scale in the show.

Esther Romaine said...

I loved "The Paradise" as well, and I have to say Denise and Mr. Moray are definitely my favorite characters. I don't really like Dudley much, but I did love Matthew McNulty as Fisher Bloom. To be honest I liked him best out of all Laura's suitors.

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