Monday, June 22, 2015

Poldark Rebooted on PBS

Poldark was back on PBS last night, in a brand new rebooting of the series.  (Hey, rebooting can have a literal, original, nondigital meaning here, since there are lots of boots in the muddy terrain of this narrative.)  My wife and I loved the original two Poldarks back in the 1970s - adopted from the books - right up there with Upstairs, Downstairs and I, Claudius as the best-ever on PBS, to this very day.

What always attracted me to the story was the reverse of what we in America usually see in the aftermath of our successful 1776 revolution.  To England, that war as a humiliation, and those who returned to the isle got no big rounds of applause.

Certainly not Poldark, presumed killed in the war, who returns to find his true love on the verge of marrying his cousin.  Poldark is slow to react - this is a hallmark of the man, who will learn the hard way that he needs to move more quickly on his feelings, and forget about what he thinks may be the right or courteous thing to do.  In that sense, Poldark is parable about Britain casting off its traditional moorings, and, though, they may not like to admit this, becoming more like wild, irreverent America.

The heart of the story is indeed the crumbling caste structure, against which true love struggles to find a way.  There's a tendency whenever you see a remake to compare it - usually unfavorably - to the original.  Robin Ellis was just outstanding as the 1970s television Poldark, as were Angharad Rees as Demelza, full of sauce and soul, and just about everyone in those two series.

It's too soon to tell if Eleanor Tomlinson will be as good as Demelza in the 2015 version, but Aidan Turner seems to have all the right up-right stuff for Poldark, and I'm looking forward to more.

See this more detailed recap and analysis of the new Poldark in The New York Times.


 
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