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A few nights ago I was browsing Netflix for something easy and fun to watch and decided to check out the “Suggestions for You” section. Usually they suggest worth —- , you know, but this time I saw several movies worth adding to my list. My eye was particularly caught by the cover image for something called The Paradise. I clicked on it to read the synopsis, half expecting something spiritual or possibly religious, and instead SURPRISE! It was nothing of the kind.
It was not a movie, but the latest of the British Masterpiece TV series, and if you know some of those, you know that you can usually expect something good. Think Downton Abbey: need I say more?
When I pressed play I was taken into this beautifully crafted world of the early department stores in England. And when I say beautiful I mean exquisite, true eye candy, the kind that made me desire to have a store like that here, right now, in my own apartment, so I could walk around and take tons of photographs!
The images in this post are obviously not mine (I wish), but borrowed from the stills of the series to give you a visual. Unfortunately some are really small and I could not make them any bigger without losing resolution. But you can still get the feel of it.
The story is based on Emile Zola’s classic novel ‘Au Bonheur des Dames’ – which I have not read, by the way – and is set in the mid 19th century or thereabouts. It revolves around the lives of the people who live and work in the store, with a particular focus on Denise Lovett (played by Joanna Vanderham), a beautiful and smart country girl who moves to the city and brings her clever ideas and ambition to The Paradise, Britain’s glamorous first department store. Around her swirls, or should I say swishes, given the petticoats, a perfectly written group of characters that will charm you with their own stories and personalities: the goodies, and the not so goodies. There are no real baddies in The Paradise, not really.
The series is truly well cast, it is fast moving and entertaining, with each actor giving an excellent performance. Some of the names in the cast: Emun Elliott as Moray, the owner of The Paradise; Stephen Wight as Sam, Matthew McNulty as Dudley, Elaine Cassidy as Lady Katherine Glendenning, David Hayman as Jonas, Sarah Lancashire as Miss Audrey, and Peter Wight as Edmund Lovett.
I must admit there are instances in which the character’s choices and behavior feel a little ahead of their historical setting, but the story flows nicely and – at least up to the end of the first series – in a congenial manner. You know how, when tv series start getting long, the writers have a tendency to exceed believability in order to top each other and things start getting ridiculous? I don’t know about you, but that drives me nuts. Well, that hasn’t happened with this one so far.
I was in visual artist heaven – pun intended – and I was up late watching several episodes of the only series that was available, the first, which came out in 2012. You know Netflix, sometimes it takes a little while to make these things available on streaming.
I found out that there is a second series and the temptation to go and buy that one right away is strong. But I think I will wait.
Unfortunately I also discovered that, after season 2, the series was cancelled. Reason? It seems that another similar series has become very popular and has magnetized the ratings. It is called Mr. Selfridge and it is also from Masterpiece. I will eventually watch it, though right now I am angry at it as it caused the cancellation of The Paradise, with its beautiful sets, costumes and photography.
All the same, that does not take away from the pleasure of watching at least two series of The Paradise, with 8 episodes per set, and I can do that over and over and over and over… ad nauseam as the case may be.
Those sets and scenes have inspired me, and a new project is brewing in my head.
If you are a fan of Downton Abbey you are going to looooove The Paradise. You can watch a preview by clicking here.
When I have a chance to watch Mr. Selfridge, I will let you know what I think. Or maybe you can watch it and let me know what you think.
In the meantime, I would love to hear how you enjoy The Paradise. If it’s your cup of tea and you watch it, come back here and let me know in the comments.
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