Poldark Season One Episode Six on Masterpiece Classic PBS – A Recap & Review

Image of Demelza Poldark (Eleanor Tomlinson) at the Warleggan ball in Poldark (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd for Masterpiece PBS

Image of Demelza Poldark (Eleanor Tomlinson) at the Warleggan ball in Poldark (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd for Masterpiece PBS

Last week in episode 5 of Poldark everyone was reckless and bold—gambling on their future and love. Miner Mark Daniel married a questionable woman, Ross began a copper smelting company, Demelza played defiant matchmaker and Francis had a meltdown after losing his mine in a card game.

This week: The Pride and Prejudice Poldark edition. In which talk of frocks, balls and beaus resounds with sparkling repartees and retorts, echoing Jane Austen’s prose.

(there be spoilers ahead)

RECAP

Francis (Kyle Soller) scythes. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

Francis (Kyle Soller) scythes. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

You’ll never get it Ross.”—Francis Poldark

What?”—Ross Poldark

Justice for all.”—Francis Poldark

Fair wages would be a start.”—Ross Poldark

With the image of the shirtless and buff Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) scything his field in episode three still fresh in our minds, the scene of his cousin Francis (Kyle Soller) attempting the same sends an entirely different message. Moral fortitude vs. weakness has won the day. Taking the initiative and rebuilding your life has paid off for Ross. Will his cousin rise to the challenge? The omen that Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston) foretold of the dark and fair Poldark, “The stronger rises as the weaker falls,” has flipped in the five years since Ross’s return. The only ammunition that Francis has left to wound his cousin is sarcasm and doubt.

Carey Mulligan as Kitty Bennet and Jena Malone as Lydia Bennet Pride & Prejudice. Image (c) 2005 Focus Features

Carey Mulligan as Kitty Bennet and Jena Malone as Lydia Bennet Pride & Prejudice. Image (c) 2005 Focus Features

Have you heard? The Warleggans are giving a ball!”—Verity Poldark

Are we invited?”—Demelza Poldark

What a way to mark your entrance into society.”—Verity Poldark

*puzzled look on Demelza’s face*

What is it?”—Verity Poldark

*sigh* “Well what will I wear?”—Demelza Poldark

Ha! This could have been a conversation between Lydia and Kitty Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. The age old question of “what will I wear” echoing down from through the ages!

I need no luxury. To be free. To live my own life. To be with you. It’s all the riches I could wish.”—Verity Poldark

Verity (Ruby Bentall) meets Captain Blamey (Richard Harrington) openly in Falmouth. As they walk along the sea wall in plain view of all, my mind’s rapid imagination concludes that she has become as reckless and bold as her cousin Ross. What was the girl thinking? No respectable young lady would be seen unchaperoned walking with a gentleman in such a public place in 1788. After my inner Lady Catherine settled down, I came to the realization that they must have an agreement. Since she has reached the point of “who cares,” I hoped that they will just get on with it and elope.

Ross (Aidan Turner) burns his shirt. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

Ross (Aidan Turner) burns his shirt. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

T’iss as we feared Ross. Fever’s rife in Bodmin and they’re droppin’ like flys.”—Zacky Martin

Jim Carter’s (Alexander Arnold) father-in-law Zacky Martin (Tristan Sturrock) spills the bad news to Ross. There is pestilence at the jail where Jim is imprisoned. Armed with nothing beyond his wits, Ross and Dr. Enys (Luke Norris) talk their way into the jail and remove Jim, who is near death. Attempts to save his life fail. They return home and immediately bury him on a cliff by the sea. One presumes that the hasty burial outside a churchyard was precipitated by the fear of spreading the fever to others, and that criminals cannot be buried in sacred ground. One clue to the danger is Ross burning his clothes on the beach, or was that another excuse for him to take his shirt off again?

Pardon my interference. It was kindly meant.” — Demelza Poldark

Demelza happens upon Keren Daniel (Sabrina Bartlett) knocking on the door of Dr. Eny’s home and informs her that he and her husband are away. In a bold move, she breaches a sensitive subject—the fact that “folk love a gossip” and she should take care and not give them cause. Of course Keren (the vixen) plays dumb about the inference that she is pursuing Dr. Enys. Demelza’s reply is very strongly rooted in another famous retort from Pride and Prejudice, “I beg your pardon,” replied Miss Bingley, turning away with a sneer. “Excuse my interference: it was kindly meant.” Just sayin’.

Smug, self-centered upholders of the law, and so-called gentlemen who prize game above honest working men.”—Ross Poldark

After Jim’s tragic death, Ross is as angry as hornet in a hailstorm. Like the true Byronic hero he is, he drinks excessively, vents his spleen and broods magnificently—blaming the magistrates for the death. Breaking Jim out of jail is a crime and Demelza is worried about trouble arising from her husband’s actions. Recklessly, he welcomes it. Verity arrives to quell the maelstrom of misery and convinces Ross that he must attend the Warleggan ball that evening to “dance and smile among the very men responsible,” those who might bring action against him, reminding them that he is a gentleman. “Justice is a fine thing is it not?” Ross snarls. He hates playing the social game, but concedes he must for the sake of his family.

Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) dances at the Warleggan ball. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) dances at the Warleggan ball. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

Do you hunt ma’am?”—Sir Hugh Bodrugan

No sir. I have some sympathy for the foxes.”—Demelza Poldark

Ross and Demelza arrive at the grand Warleggan ball; she in her shiny new frock and he in his cups (drunk). George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) introduces Ross to Matthew Sanson (Jason Thorpe) who engages him in a game of cards. Left alone Demelza is introduced to her neighbor Sir Hugh Bodrugan (Patrick Ryecart), a middle-aged bachelor known for his passion for riding to the hounds and the ladies. Looking every bit the fine lady, she still has a mind of her own and responds to his question with an honest answer that no proper eighteenth-century lady would ever say! How refreshing!

No doubt that the common people you mix with have blunted your facilities as to what may or may not be said in polite society.”—Reverend Halse

Oh, I agree that they alter one’s perspective, sir. You should try mixing with such people. They might enlarge your outlook.”—Ross Poldark

The self-righteous Reverend Halse (Robin Ellis) sits down to a game of cards with Ross, Francis and Matthew Sanson thinking that because of his clerical profession that he has the better grasp on elementary principals. Sitting next to him is Ross Poldark who never plays by the elementary principles of polite society and challenges him to a duel of words resulting in a standoff, for the moment.

Three refined Cornish ladies Elizabeth Poldark (Heida Reed), Ruth Treneglos (Harriet Ballard)  and Mrs. Chynoweth (Sally Dexter). Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

Three refined Cornish ladies Elizabeth Poldark (Heida Reed), Ruth Treneglos (Harriet Ballard) and Mrs. Chynoweth (Sally Dexter). Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

And how is your father dear. We have not seen him since the christening.”—Ruth Treneglos

No ma’am. I’m sorry. Father is over particular who he meets.”—Demelza Poldark

While Ross spends the evening inebriated and playing cards leaving Demelza to fend for herself at her first ball, her fine figure and genteel manners have attracted the attention of many of the men and women in attendance, including the bachelor rogue of the county, Sir Hugh Bodrugan, and Mrs. Chynoweth (Sally Dexter), Elizabeth Poldark’s snooty mother who does not recognize her at first. Oh, but Ruth Treneglos (Harriet Ballard) does. Never one to miss the opportunity to snub anyone, she attempts to knock Demelza down a peg by reminding all within earshot of Ross’s wife’s humble roots. In one of the best lines in the episode, Demelza’s come-back is equal to one Elizabeth Bennet’s best retorts, squarely re-buffing the implied insult to her and family. Touché.

Andrew I beg you to leave. Francis will see you…”—Verity Poldark

That’s exactly what I wish. Have it all out in the open. I won’t be ashamed of our love.”—Captain Andrew Blamey

Verity is in a dither. Her hot-head beau Andrew Blamey has crashed the Warleggan party and sought her out. Well of course Francis catches them together and there is another verbal volley and physical outburst. While Verity has committed to Andrew, she has been delaying telling her brother, whose reaction she dreads. After this heated scene, and Verity’s later distressful tears in front of the whole county, I think she is past the point of no return and should elope. Okay. That’s the second time I have suggested that scandalous act, but she has burned her bridges and can no longer be a spinster under her brother’s tyranny.

Elizabeth Poldark (Heida Reed) at the Warleggan ball. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

Elizabeth Poldark (Heida Reed) at the Warleggan ball. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

I hope you are as well entertained as your wife, or had you forgotten her existence? Dangerous mistake. Absentee husbands make for wandering wives. If you wish to retain our favor, you’d do well to pay attention.”—Elizabeth Poldark

There’s Elizabeth getting all fired up again. I rather like this passionate, petulant side she has developed. Again, after her revved up speech to Ross is episode five, she directs her anger and frustration with her own husband at Ross by criticizing his actions, which her husband is also engaging in. Double entendre masked in a thin veil of sarcasm. The women are on fire in this episode.

Perhaps I should ask for an introduction since it has been so long since we met.”—Demelza Poldark

After Elizabeth’s not so subtle reminder to Ross that he has been neglecting his wife, he seeks her out. Demelza’s immediate reaction is biting sarcasm. She is full up with his behavior. “You’ll not right any wrongs by drinkin and gamin’.” He tries to change the subject by criticizing his class—“over painted, over dressed and over stuffed.” She sees through his ploy and curtly reminds him that if he thinks “that the all the stupid, fat and ignorant” people are in his class, he is mistook. The conversation degenerates to his proclaiming that if, “she behaves likes this she will not go to another ball.” She, in the perfect comeback, she throws it back at him and retorts that if, “he behaves like this, she will not want to.” Wow! Snap, crackle, pop.

Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) drinks and gambles at the Warleggan ball. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) drinks and gambles at the Warleggan ball. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

When did you know that he was cheating?”—Delemza Poldark

Almost at once. I wanted to know for sure before I challenged him.”—Ross Poldark

As the evening progresses, the gaming gets more reckless. Ross has become more than acquainted with George’s brandy and the card table as he begins to lose heavily to Sanson in a game of speculation. He bets and loses his grandfather’s watch and then stakes his mine. Horrified, Demelza offers her new broach that Ross has just given her, and then that is quickly lost too. Then in a last ditch effort he stakes his mine. One last round and then he catches Sanson cheating. It is apparent to all, save George, that he has been played and demands that his loses be returned. Ross blames George for including such people at his parties. As morning breaks the Poldarks depart in Francis’ carriage. An eventful night that gave Ross more ammunition against George, until he learns that Sanson is his cousin.

Hope for marriage? Pick me liver. Best to be hoped for is not to be cuckhold thrice a day by every man, dog and mule in the county.”—Jud Paynter

Mark Daniel is waiting for Ross at Nampara as he and Demelza return home after the party. He is upset by gossip that his wife Keren has been with Dr. Enys. Jud’s approach to the eventual outcome of marriage does not help him, but it was another bon mot in this tightly infused episode that could not be overlooked.

The Poldark ladies: Verity (Ruby Bentall), Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston) and Elizabeth (Heida Reed). Image (c) Mammoth Screen, Ltd for Masterpiece PBS

The Poldark ladies: Verity (Ruby Bentall), Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston) and Elizabeth (Heida Reed). Image (c) Mammoth Screen, Ltd for Masterpiece PBS

What is the matter with the women in this family?”—Franics Poldark

The men.”—Aunt Agatha

The deconstruction of the Warleggan ball continues at Trenwith the next morning. Aunt Agatha, who has foretold more than a few truths with her tarot cards, proclaims that “It is an omen. A fiendish black omen.” Prompting Franics to openly question what is wrong with the women of the family. I could not agree more with Aunt Agatha’s reply, a fitting end to this episode.

MY REVIEW

The second act of a play is always my favorite. The plot has been building to the climax—a turning point in the hero or heroine’s fate—and right before the big payoff for the viewer. The brilliantly crafted Warleggan ball in episode 6 of Poldark covers what would be the second act if this television series was a play, and it does not disappoint. (If we were reading Pride and Prejudice it would be the moment when Elizabeth receives notice of Lydia’s elopement.)

At the ball, the dramatic scenes and conflicts for the main characters play out like an intricate dance. Ross, our beleaguered hero, is reeling from the death of Jim Carter. He arrives with Demelza, drunk and angrily blaming the harshness of the magistrates who condemned Jim. She is dressed to the nines and ready to party at her first ball. He is a warrior ready for battle.

Ross abandons her to the card room where he drinks more brandy, loses heavily at cards and spars with his arch-enemies: Reverned Halse, who represents everything he hates about his class, and George, whose business ethics he abhors. While Demelza attempts to quell the powder-keg of Ross-hate building in the community, she dances with randy neighbors, manages a tearful Verity and fends off the local high-brows who seek to put her in her place. The dialogue is sparkling and witty and very Jane Austen-ish with its rapid fire repartee and biting retorts. In fact, I saw so much of Pride and Prejudice in this episode that I pronounce it is absolutely the best writing of the season so far, coupled with excellent direction and fabulous acting. Winston Graham is always at his best when a group of toffs gather in a ball room and Duke it out behind fans and foppery, and the screenwriter Debbie Horsfield has done a superb job transforming his words to the screen.

Next week we will have a two hour season finale of Poldark as episode seven and eight are broadcast back to back. We shall see if anything can surpass my awe and amazement of the Warleggan ball. I think Aunt Agatha’s prediction of a black omen may be foreshadowing for us, so take heed.

Poldark continues next Sunday on Masterpiece PBS. Join me during the broadcast, August 2nd, 2015 9/8c as I co-moderate the live Twitter Event of episode seven and eight of Poldark, hosted by Masterpiece Classic PBS. Just use hashtag #PoldarkPBS to have your share of the conversation.

Images courtesy of Mammoth Screen, Ltd & Masterpiece PBS © 2015; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2015, Austenprose.com

Demelza: A Novel of Cornwall, by Winston Graham – A Review

Demelza A Novel of Cornwall, 1788-1790 by Winston Graham 2015 x 200From the desk of Pamela Mingle:

If you’re like me, you are spending your Sundays killing time until Poldark lights up the TV screen. When I learned that Season One would be based on Winston Graham’s first two books in the series, Ross Poldark and Demelza, I was determined to read them before viewing the adaptation. Although the episodes I’ve seen so far can stand on their own merit, reading the books has given me a richer understanding of the two protagonists. If Ross’s character functions as the moral compass of the story, Demelza’s represents the emotional heart of the books. Her struggle to be accepted as Ross’s wife makes us empathize with her, root for her, right from the start.

Demelza opens with the birth of Ross and Demelza’s baby girl. The new mother plans two christening parties, one for the country folk and another for the gentry. Trouble arises when her father, now a Methodist and wearing his religion like a cloak of righteousness, shows up on the wrong day and promptly insults some of the guests. Put in the uncomfortable position of defending his father-in-law, Ross must intervene. Demelza flees to the house, mortified. “…I thought I would show ’em I was a fit wife for you, that I could wear fine clothes and behave genteel an’ not disgrace you. An’ instead they will all ride home snickering behind their hands…” (51) Continue reading

Q&A with Poldark Historical Advisor Hannah Greig

Captain Ross Poldark in His Majesty's 62nd Regiment of Foot regimentals (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd for Masterpiece PBS

Captain Ross Poldark in His Majesty’s 62nd Regiment of Foot regimentals (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd for Masterpiece PBS

Getting the historical details correct is so critical in period drama today. Gone are the days when Greer Garson could wear a hoop skirt in the 1940 Pride and Prejudice and get away with it. The production team of the new BBC/PBS Poldark, at Mammoth Screen Ltd., have stepped up to the mark depicting late eighteenth-century Cornwall, warts and all. Advising them in this monumental task is lecturer, author and historian Hannah Greig who joins us today to answer a few questions about her role in the production of Poldark and the historical context that it is set in.

An illustration "A Beauty in Search of Knowledge" derived from a print by John Raphael Smith, 1782 (c) British Library

An illustration “A Beauty in Search of Knowledge” derived from a print by John Raphael Smith, 1782 (c) British Library

LAN: Welcome Hannah. One has visions of historians entrenched in musty library stacks secretly pining for their favorite reference librarian! Besides teaching and writing, you have carved out an interesting niche as Historical Advisor for films, television and theatre. This seems like a very glamorous job. Can you share with us what your duties are, what a typical day would be like, and what kind of questions are asked by the production team? Continue reading

Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley Blog Tour Launch with Author Shannon Winslow & Giveaway

Miss Georgiana of Pemberley - blog tour banner x 200 x 2Tuesdays are special days in the book world. They are the designated release days in publishing—and today is the debut of Austenesque author Shannon Winslow’s latest novel, Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley. 

I am very pleased to welcome Shannon to Austenprose today in celebration of the release and official opening of her blog tour sponsored by her publisher Heather Ridge Arts. Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley is a new Austenesque novel told from the point of view of its eponymous heroine. The story parallels Winslow’s best-selling The Darcys of Pemberley.   

Shannon has generously offered a guest blog sharing her inspiration to write her new novel—and to add to the festivities—we will be offering an amazing selection of giveaway prizes. Just leave a comment following this blog post to enter. The contest details are listed below. Good luck to all. 

Please join us in welcoming Shannon Winslow.

Thank you, Laurel Ann, for generously offering to host the launch of my new novel! I’m very excited to be here at Austenprose again and to share with your readers my inspiration for writing Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley.

After spending a very satisfying year in the world of Persuasion, researching and writing The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen, I felt a strong pull to return to my first love: Pride and Prejudice. But what could I write about it? I had two sequels already, and with all the lose ends tied neatly up in bows by the end of the second (Return to Longbourn), I didn’t immediately see any opening for a third. So I was considering a variation instead when the idea hit me; I could write a variation of my own popular novel – The Darcys of Pemberley – this time from Georgiana’s point of view! Continue reading

Poldark Season One Episode Five on Masterpiece Classic PBS – A Recap & Review

Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark (2015)

Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner), new dad, bad-ass miner and wavering lover.

Last week in episode 4 of Poldark the scandal mongers were in high dudgeon after the marriage of Ross to his kitchen maid Demelza, Uncle Charles’ death forced his son Francis to become more than a lawn ornament, Demelza Doolittle discovered that becoming a lady is hard work and Ross had an epiphany–he loves his wife!

This week everyone is RECKLESS AND BOLD—gambling on their future and love: Mark Daniel in his choice of bride, Keren; Ross in his new business venture, Demelza in her defiance, and Francis with his livelihood. The only person who is nonplussed is George Warleggan.

(there be spoilers ahead)

RECAP

Sabrina Bartlett as Keren Smith in Poldark (2015 )

Keren Smith (Sabrina Bartlett), a player on more than just the stage, one suspects.

I am undone: there is no living, none,

If Bertram be away. ‘Twere all one

That I should love a bright particular star

And think to wed it, he is so above me.” — Keren Smith as Helena in All’s Well That Ends Well 

Two new important characters have entered the Poldark sphere: Dr. Dwight Enys (Luke Norris) and Keren Smith (Sabrina Bartlett). While Dr. Enys (in this screen version) is Ross Poldark’s (Aidan Turner) amiable army buddy arriving in Cornwall to study miners lung ailments, Keren is a seductive siren, an actress performing in a traveling troop who captures the heart of miner Mark Daniel (Matthew Wilson). Did any other Shakespeare fans recognize her soliloquy during the stage production? It is Helena’s lament for her love Bertram from All’s Well That Ends Well  by Shakespeare—a very interesting selection for the screenwriter to choose. I will not say more, lest I spoil it for everyone. Mark agrees to Keren’s demanding terms for a marriage. He has four days to prepare a home for her or she leaves. Anyone read Why Men Love Bitches? She might have ghost written it. Just sayin’. Continue reading

Poldark Season One Episode Four on Masterpiece Classic PBS – A Recap & Review

Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza in Episode 4 of Poldark (2015)

“They like you.” proclaims Demelza to Ross. No kidding, sweetie!

Last week, episode three of Poldark began with Ross re-opening his family copper mine, Demelza catching his eye while dancing at a local villager’s wedding, Jim’s trial for poaching ending badly, and Ross, after a hellish day arguing with Demelza while trying to resist the temptations of the flesh, succumbing to said temptations, ending in their surprise nuptials. Whoa!

This week, as the scandal of their wedding rocks the community and sours Ross’s business venture, Uncle Charles joins the blessed above (or below), and Verity instructs Demelza on becoming a lady. A first Christmas together for Romelza is shared with the dreaded Poldark family at Trenwith, resulting in a revelation for Ross.

(there be spoilers ahead)

RECAP

Beatie Edney as Prudie and Philip Davis as Jud in Poldark (2015)

Prudie (Beatie Edney) and Jud (Philip Davis), servants of Nampara

One minute she is skiverly scullery kitchen maid, the next she be Mistress High and Mighty.” — Jud

Do you think it not as strange to me as it is to you? Do you imagine I ever looked for or expected it? Come to think of it, it is more your fault than mine.” — Demelza

How be that then?” — Jud

Tis you that raised me up and taught me all I know. So If I am fit for better than I hoped, blame yourselves for educating me.” — Demelza

The whole community is shocked by the news of Demelza and Ross’s marriage, including his caustic family, the scheming Warleggans (who smell a profit to be made from society’s prejudice), and the two Nampara servants, Jud and Prudie, who finally confront her. I just love how Demelza (clever girl) turns the sword around and points it firmly back at her former fellow servants while complimenting them at the same time. Touché! Continue reading