Look to us next week for the first of several posts we will be doing for the MeTV network's Holiday Programming event which begins with Thanksgiving and continues with Christmas series segments. We will be covering several episodes of That Girl plus The Man from U.N.C.L.E.!
Many terrific TV blogs are participating in this over month-long event featuring some of our favorite shows and their classic holiday-oriented episodes!
I'm American and I'm American to the core. I'm well-read. Americans used to be well-read. That may no longer
be a trait of most Americans. Having said that, I had never read a single entry
in the Winston Graham Poldark series. It turns out there are twelve books in the
series and I highly doubt I will take them on at this stage in life. I'm way too busy to get involved in a series that long. My primary reading material
now consists of historical non-fiction, not historical fiction. I also have
loved Jane Austen novels. Hey, I'm a woman, so of course, I love Jane Austen
novels. My particular favorite is Pride and Prejudice. It remains the most romantic novel I have ever read.
This leads me to the character of Ross Poldark. Poldark is a conflicted and
multi-faceted man. He's brave, fearless and a major pain in the ass; and I mean that as a compliment. He's so fearless he has loaded pistols on a wall in his home, but perhaps, everyone did that in the 1780's. We are getting to a stage on planet earth where we may need to go back to that plan.
This is a man who has been through a great deal in life. He has gone off to a war in the New Land and he has suffered badly. He now brandishes a scar from the physicality of the war. While he was gone he lost his father, his fortune and the woman he loved since his youth. Austen's Mr. D'arcy and Mr. Knightley were privileged people who never lost much, if they ever really lost anything. Mr. Poldark has lived a full life and loss is a mark on his being.
Poldark is one of the most fascinating characters in television. From the moment you see his red coat fall in the American woods, you sympathize with his struggle. He balances between the upper class and the working class better than any character on television in recent times. Like Dr. Zhivago before him, he proves you can genuinely love two people at the same time.
Late last spring I saw a couple of promo spots pushing the PBS series
Poldark. Poldark is a BBC production (of course it is), but in
the United States it is a presentation of Masterpiece Theatre. When it premiered I didn't bother to watch Poldark. Two weeks ago, I was watching something on PBS
and Poldark started while I was chatting on the phone. I was able to
follow the storyline while in conversation. When the conversation ended, I was
hooked on a show I hadn't heard a single line from. The storytelling was so
perfectly tuned, one didn't need dialogue. It was like watching a silent film.
The story lay before me. Poldark is so visually stunning it reminded me of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. The difference is Barry Lyndon was beyond boring.
Poldark is a lush and bountiful production taking place
during my favorite period of American history - the French-Indian War through the
second term of Thomas Jefferson. The series opens in 1783 when the most powerful army in the world failed to defeat George Washington's seemingly
non-threatening group of private citizens. Thank God Washington was victorious. We certainly wouldn't want to be bowing before a British monarch.
Mr. Poldark is a well bred, educated, cultured
and sophisticated man. He returns home after a three year absence and everyone back
home that he ever loved is either dead or they think he's dead.
The kicker here and always a good way to wrap a story is that the woman he
loved is now getting hitched to another man and that other man happens to be his
first cousin. How many times has this plot device been used, but we love
it. It may not be original, but it works in the frame of
Poldark and Elizabeth
Ross Poldark also likes to help poor people and not in a phony way. We have lots of that today. People telling the world we must help the homeless, etc... and yet they personally do absolutely nothing. Poldark's compassion runs deep and true. Additionally, he looks like a toned and
fit classic rock artist from the 1970's. Having said that, none of the classic
rock stars from the 1970's were toned and fit. Most of them were stoned or
loaded and way too skinny to be a manly, masculine man. Ross Poldark is a
masculine, manly man. We need more men who are men. Check out Outlander as well. More of when men were men!
The production provides excellent technical achievements all the way around. The first season of eight
episodes delivers gripping and compelling drama, but only when
Ross Poldark is involved in a scene. I also did near loathe the last two episodes; and what was that insensitive remark about "pray that the great love of my life isn't taken." Didn't he recently think someone else was the great love of his life? Admittedly, people who believe the brink of death will take a loved one act differently, but I was troubled by his insensitivity to Elizabeth. I'm getting way ahead of myself...
I am sounding contradictory, but Ross Poldark is a man of many contradictions. He is a character for the ages.
The definitive reason to watch Poldark is the actor behind Poldark. Aidan
Turner is a delightful Irish actor (I say this due to interviews I've seen with
him surrounding the releases of the three Hobbit films). He is a well-rounded actor and his turn in Poldark is quite stylized. He does brooding well and he does smoldering
even better. His performance here is stunning. He has so much going on emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually that it is a tough turn for an actor. Turner delivers on all fronts.
Hopefully, Mr. Turner stays normal. By
all accounts, the women of the U.K. and Ireland are near stalking the man.
Seriously, I hope he remains normal. Stay close to your family and find a good woman, because the women of the world will attempt to drain you. Get married and start a
family. Live a normal life and keep your residence in Ireland! Don't move to the United States. You will become a superficial goof living in the near immovable traffic of Los Angeles or you will become a snarky elitist living in New York. I would hate to see someone with so much talent become a drunk, doper or promiscuous cad. I love Poldark so much, I am now willing to defend the man behind the character.
Most people seemingly think Poldark is romantic. I've decided it isn't. I
originally thought it was, but it isn't. The lack of his willingness to fight for
the woman he loved since his youth shows I can't completely respect the
character. Who cares if she's engaged to the wimpy cousin. They AIN'T married (well, not when he first arrives home).
He falls for his kitchen maid a little too quickly which inevitably leaves little to root for. She keeps making mistake after mistake - even if her heart is in the right place much of the time. She's not interesting. Elizabeth is complex and intriguing. It is difficult to keep an audience interested in characters and story lines when the two leads end up with one another so early in a series. We need anticipation. We need something to root for. To hope for. To dream of.
SPOILER ALERT IN THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH
I may be one of the few women on the planet that prefers the character of Elizabeth (that's the woman he left behind). Ultimately, they are better suited for one another. We know Elizabeth eventually dies (I looked it up) and that will definitely end the suspense for me. I love the back and forth of feelings and without her he has no emotional attachment to go back to.
Poldark was shot in Cornwall and if you have spent time in Great
Britain it certainly ranks as one of the most beautiful areas in the entire
nation. Stunning place draped with work horses, grassy hills, amazingly gorgeous
sunrises and sunsets proving God is indeed the greatest of all painters.
Outside of Aidan Turner's spirited turn as Ross Poldark, acting kudos must
go to Heida Reed as Elizabeth. She is outstanding in the role of
the sophisticated and elegant woman Poldark admires and loves. Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza (the kitchen maid turned Poldark wife) is excellent. She embodies the character with all the right touches. Kyle Soller as the wimpy cousin is darn good in his thankless role.
Poldark and Demelza
Jane Asher and Paul McCartney-1960s look-a-likes
Poldark does an excellent job of combining a period piece with some
current "speak." Perhaps, a bit too much. For example: when the pretty
prostitute asks Poldark if his wife is pretty (Demelza is the wife) he says "in
a way" and then she nails him with, but do you love her and he says "we get on."
One need not be an expert in late 18th century language to know Poldark wouldn't
have said either of those things in the 1780's.
Poldark is the ultimate black sheep, but he wants to restore his family's
fortune. Most viewers can relate to the dedication to family, occasional financial burdens and love, so this story is timeless. It may not be in the books, but Poldark needs to go to London. Bring him back to the former colonies. He needs a life outside of the small town. I want something more than the small stories.
If you haven't caught Poldark, look for it On Demand. It is definitely
worth paying for. Superb television from our British brothers and sisters in
television programming. I now have to wait until either late 2016 or early 2017
to see season two. By then, I will most likely not have the time or will have
moved on, but I suspect Poldark will bring me back to my couch.
The Flaming Nose is happy to welcome guest blogger Elaine with a terrific article on the end of the Jon Stewart era at The Daily Show:
Like most of his fans, I'm not happy about Jon Stewart
leaving The Daily Show. But since he’s decided not to grant any interviews
before the end of the show, most of what I've been reading about his departure
has been coming from his now former colleagues. They’ve said the obvious things about him being smart, funny, and working his
ass off. But what I'm also observing is his former employees’ admiration of him
and his ability to create a high performing team in a continuously healthy work
This formula isn’t new, but having worked in broadcasting
AND corporate America myself, I can tell you that this formula isn’t as simple
to pull off as it looks. It takes effort and the right person to pull it off.
Here's what some of his correspondents have said to Entertainment
Weekly recently about what it was like to work with him:
"The show won a lot of Emmys, but the correspondents at that time
weren’t credited as writers. So we never got an Emmy, which is fine—we
understood the deal. But he called Sam Bee, Ed Helms, and me into his office
one day, and on his desk were three Emmy statues. And he said, “You guys can
each take one thing off my desk.” It was such a nice gesture."
"I always felt like he farmed out the funny. You know, if there
was a chance for me to be funny, he was like, “Great, you say that.” He just
allowed people to flourish...I got the impression he wanted me to succeed, and
then I wanted to succeed for him. That’s good leadership."
So it wasn't just Stewart's timing, delivery, writing, and intelligence
that made The Daily Show so controversial, successful, envied, and great. He
was an exceptional leader. Not only did he find the right talent, he helped
guide them to be the best they could be. He made people feel valued so their
hard work wasn’t in vain. Those are the keys to building any happy team. And a
happy team is a successful team.
What a concept.
Elaine (aka VirgoBlue) is a former television and radio producer
turned Silicon Valley communications pro. You can find her at www.virgoblue.net and on
Twitter @virgoblue .
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