Late 18th century primetime soap
The press materials for the DVD release of 16-episode mini-series Poldark compares this BBC period piece that is set in the era between the American and French revolutions to Gone With The Wind. The well presented historical setting, melodrama, and backdrop of war make this comparison valid. Additionally, Poldark is one of the all-time favorite series that has run on PBS’ Masterpiece Theater.
My personal sense of this interesting and entertaining program is that is more comparable to the primetime soap Dallas. One difference is that, as is typical of British programs, Poldark does a better job depicting the days of the lives of the Poldark family and their community than Dallas does with the Ewings of Texas.
Captain Ross Poldark returning to Cornwall, England, in the first episode after escaping from a French prison camp in the colonies sets off a series of events in the same manner as Bobby Ewing and “that Barnes woman” returning from an elopement in the pilot episode of Dallas was a catalyst for sorts of shenanigans and other mayhem.
Ross even feuds, competes, and occasionally cooperates in business and love with his cousin Francis in the same manner as brothers J.R., a.k.a. John Ross, and Bobby Ewing. Francis becoming engaged to Ross’ fiancée while Ross was fighting the colonists in America is another example of how Poldark resembles a primetime soap.
Poldark further includes as many business reversals and upturns as any primetime soap. Marriages of convenience, illegitimate children, smuggling, murders, and deep animosity between the Poldarks and the even wealthier Warleggans are other elements that make this show typical of similar American shows.
Anyone with thoughts regarding Poldark and its similarities to primetime soaps is welcome to e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Review by John Stahl
John Stahl is a freelance legal writer who is also a fan of classic and cult television programs. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Hailed as a British Gone with the Wind, Poldark created a sensation on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre with its dashing, romantic hero and his infamous exploits. Based on the novels by Winston Graham, this classic miniseries demonstrates the enduring appeal of a gripping storyline and unforgettable characters.
Returning to Cornwall after the American Revolution, Capt. Ross Poldark (Robin Ellis, The Good Soldier) finds his life at home has fallen apart. His estate is in disarray. His former flame, Elizabeth (Jill Townsend, Cimarron Strip), is engaged to his cousin. And his family’s copper mines have become targets for the Poldarks’ bitter rivals. Duels, smuggling, and attempted murders unfold as Ross strives to resurrect his fortunes and find true love. This spellbinding saga dramatizes the deep rifts in British society on the brink of industrialization, played out against the rocky, ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast.
16 episodes; approx. 821 min.; 4:3 full screen; color; British drama; not rated; SDH subtitles
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