Set in 1970’s Cornwall, Poldark tells the story of a young man returning home from war to find everything he holds dear has been taken from him. His father is dead and the lands that should have been his inheritance have fallen into ruin. The woman he loved is engaged to his cousin, a weak man who is incapable of standing up and being the head of the family. Ross must find a way of turning his fortune around for tenants are relying on him.
The show takes place over a few years. The quick time change between the episodes left some moments feeling rushed and ideas that could have been explored at a more leisurely pace were cut short as months had passed between the episodes. The best episode by far was when two took place back to back in their timings and there felt to be a lot more development and depth to the characters as you witnessed how they adapt rather than just taking it for granted.
Despite the fast pace, the character development is extreme. Demelza rises from a scrappy child in the street to a lady, one prepared to do whatever it takes. Verity finds her heart and won’t be put down again. Elizabeth goes from being just Frances’ wife and Ross’ initial love interest to a strong character in her own right. The men also develop. Unfortunately it is not always in the correct direction, as Ross gets angrier and Frances more foolish as the series develops. However, all development feels realistic and it is refreshing seeing characters coming into their own during a series, even if it is only eight episodes long.
The acting by Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson was extraordinary. Turner has a talent for pulling off the dark and brooding look, perfect for Ross’ character. He is able to portray the hardships the character is going through with just a dark look, his acting therefore subtle but powerful. Tomlinson is more expressive through her character’s innocence and determination to see the goodness in everything. The level of emotion she too can display, however, shows it is not only the singing and the smiles she can portray realistically.
The setting is as much of a characters as the people. With stunning visuals being provided by the cliffs, sunsets, sea and fields, there is true beauty on the screen at times during the series. And I’m not just talking about Aidan Turner shirtless in a field bathed in the soft golden glow of a sunset ploughing a field. But if there is any incentive to watch because of the visuals, that would be it.
While there were weak episodes along the way (and considering it is only eight episodes long, that made them more obvious than in a longer series), there was a real sense of charm to the show. You feel for the characters and you genuinely want them to come out on top because of how hard they are striving. I for one am looking forward to series two.