Note: This review will contain spoilers from Series 1. If you do not want to read about Series 1 spoilers, I suggest watching Series 1 before reading this review. Here is my review for Series 1 if you are interested.
|DVD Box Art|
After living in America for five years after leaving England, Rose Selfridge returns to London for the fifth anniversary of Selfridge's. While Harry tries to reconcile with his wife, Rose still resents his philandering and keeps her distance from him. Meanwhile, Rose has befriended Delphine Day, the owner of a night club with a scandalous past (of which she writes about publicly). Meanwhile, Agnes Towler returns to Selfridge's as head of departmental displays after training in Paris and develops a rivalry with Mr. Thackeray, the new head of fashion. Lady Mae Loxley's life is turned upside down with the arrival of her husband, Lord Loxley, who has taken a sudden interest in parliament. All of this is occurring with World War I in the near future, and Selfridge's sees the toll of the war on the store.
While some characters did not return from Series 1, Series 2 does see the entrance of more characters, some of which are better than those from Series 1 that left. And, of course, there are a couple of familiar period drama faces.
|Actor/Actress||Character||Also Seen In|
|Ron Cook||Mr. Crabb||Little Dorrit (2008) as Mr. Chivery|
|Frances O'Connor||Rose Selfridge||The Importance of Being Earnest as Gwendolen Fairfax|
|Polly Walker||Delphine Day||Emma (1996) as Jane Fairfax|
Nearly every character in this series of Mr. Selfridge was greatly improved upon from the previous series. I have always said that the first series of a period drama series tended to be the best and any series after is almost never as good. Mr. Selfridge is definitely an exception. Each character became more three dimensional and easier to relate to. Hey, you may even like the characters now despite their faults. Even characters that you might have disliked in Series 1 you may come to like in Series 2.
|The Selfridge Family|
|Delphine (left in red and green) bringing actresses in to|
Selfridges to buy things
|Lord Loxley and Lady Mae|
|Henri and Agnes|
The weakest story line, in my opinion, is the Miss Mardle/Mr. Grove/Florian (a Belgian Refugee that Miss Mardle takes in) storyline. (Just a warning, this next paragraph will have Spoilers, but I'll try to keep it to a minimum) If you recall from last series, Miss Mardle broke it off with Mr. Grove (who were in a Jane Eyre/Mr. Rochester-esque relationship that had been going on for years and years) after Mr. Grove announced that he was going to marry shop girl Doris so he could have a family (though he still wanted to continue seeing Miss Mardle). Confusing enough? Okay. So, five years later, Miss Mardle inherits a big house and a decent fortune from her brother and can afford to quit her job and never work again. Mr. Grove, of course, regrets not marrying Miss Mardle at this point (surprise, surprise) and is consumed with worry over his family and the pending war. Meanwhile, Miss Mardle decides to take Agnes in (who shouldn't be left alone while her brother is fighting in the war) and Florian (a Belgian refugee whose presence in the house could cause scandal). Mr. Grove is concerned that Florian will fall in love with Miss Mardle, to which Miss Mardle is all, "Don't be ridiculous!" But then (why is this even happening?) Florian tells her that he fell in love with her! And then there's the whole Miss Mardle fighting for feelings for the young man, but eventually admits her feelings to him. I mean, was I the only one saying, "She's too old for you!"? Wouldn't it be more realistic if Florian fell in love with Agnes? (I'm not saying that he couldn't fall in love with Miss Mardle, but rather it's less realistic). I'm certain that this storyline will be doomed in the upcoming series. It's just too weird (for me at least). She's like, what? 50? And he's like...maybe 20? Even with an older man and a younger woman, the age difference is too big. I'm hoping this isn't going to be a big focus next series...
Still great! The store still plays a dominant role in the series, and while it still looks like the Selfridge's we were introduced to in Series 1, it still looks different enough to show that time has progressed. The displays are more prominent in the story line due to the rivalry between Agnes and Mr. Thackeray. The Selfridge house looks much the same as it always did, but still looks nice. We see more of Lady Mae's home since her home life becomes more of a focus point. A new location for the story is Delphine's, Delphine Day's night club. It's always dark/candlelit and noisy inside of Delphine's, which would go with the fact that it is a night club. Miss Mardle inherits a house from her brother that she finds too big for her, so she decides to take in a Belgian refugee and Agnes after George goes off to fight in the war. The house does appear to be big (which is emphasized early on when Miss Mardle is eating in the huge dining room alone), but we only get to see a few of the rooms in it.
|Rose in Lady Mary's Dress|
Although, can we talk about the women's hairstyles in this series for a minute? Didn't it seem like a number of the main female characters had bangs and hair that almost looked like they bobbed it? Rose and Lady Mae had nearly the exact same hairstyle. I'll grant that it doesn't look that outlandish/unrealistic for the era (though a little too fluffy from hairstyles I've seen from the era), but it just seems odd that they would be dressing their hair almost the exact same way. And then I also noticed some of the shop girls had "victory rolls" hairstyles (see the picture below), which I think is more associated with World War II and not WWI.
|Shop Girls' Attire|
I wasn't sure how I was going to like Series 2, but wow, was it an improvement on the previous series! This is one of those shows that gets better as the series progresses (like Upstairs, Downstairs). Nearly all of the characters showed more depth than the previous series and were considerably more likable. The ridiculous philandering of the previous series by various characters were just about nonexistent (a reference might be made here or there to previous incidents, however, but other than that there wasn't much new... unless you count the Miss Mardle/Florian bit). I find myself pleasantly surprised by this series and would say that even if you have to stomach Series 1, Series 2 was pretty good.
Unlike the previous series, there were a lot less scenes to skip. There is really only one I can think of at the beginning of episode 9 (which was less graphic than skipped scenes from Series 1), but other than that and some suggestive dialogue, this series is a lot less TV-14 and a lot more TV-PG. Either Andrew Davies was less involved in the creation of episodes or he really toned it down, but either way it was an improvement!
Mr. Selfridge is available on DVD and Blu-Ray. This series is made up of ten 1-hour long episodes.