Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review: The Paradise -- Series 2 (2013)

Okay, so I watched Series 2 of The Paradise after I finished watching the first series and intended to review the second series almost right after watching it. Then school happened (like I've said before, it was a brutal semester), so this review got pushed aside along with everything else. But here it is! As you might have noticed, Series 2 has not been released in America yet, but I caught it online and watched it. I really liked Series 1 and, since there was the wedding cliffhanger at the end, I was curious to see what was going to happen next. So, when I found Series 2 online, I simply couldn't resist! So, I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to see what happened immediately when Katherine got jilted at the altar... Or what Lord Glendenning said to Moray about the whole thing... But still! The story continued and there was more drama to come!

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.

Region 2 DVD Box Art

After being stripped of his store and sent away to Paris, Mr. Moray returns to The Paradise as a manager determined to buy his store back. The Paradise is now owned by Tom Weston, a former soldier and the new husband of Moray's ex-fiancee, Katherine (née Glendenning), who inherited the store from her father who has, since Series 1, passed on. Meanwhile, Denise and Moray have become engaged and are working together to win The Paradise back. However, this proves to be difficult as Tom Weston is not a man to be trifled with.

Not all of the characters returned for Series 2 of The Paradise and a couple of them leave mid-way through Series 2. Lord Glendenning does not return due to the fact that his character died. Shop girl Pauline does not return (which is never explained why; she simply disappeared) and is replaced by Suzy, a new shop girl with similar characteristics. While Edmund Lovett and Miss Audrey are there for half of the series, they Spoiler get married in the middle of the series and End of Spoiler leave the show. New characters are introduced into the show, but in my opinion, they paled in comparison to the old characters. But anyways! There are some familiar period drama faces in this series of The Paradise.

Actor/ActressCharacterAlso Seen In
Ben DanielsTom WestonLark Rise to Candleford as Mr. Rushton
Peter WightEdmund LovettLark Rise to Candleford as Old Amos, Persuasion (2007) as Admiral Croft
Sarah LancashireMiss AudreyLark Rise to Candleford as Adult Laura Timmins (narration)
Adrian ScarboroughFentonUpstairs, Downstairs as Mr. Pritchard

Denise and Moray
The love story between Denise and Moray continues. Instead of a "will they, won't they" plot that was going on in the last series, their story shifts to a "they will, but there will be plenty of road blocks in the way" kind of story. I found that as the series went on, Denise and Moray became more and more annoying, which was a little sad because I liked both characters well enough in the previous series. I swear, each scene they were in together, they were either kissing/sweet talking to each other (which, believe me, gets old quickly) or they had some sort of argument and nearly break up. It seemed like the focus of their relationship was more on love and not on the fact that they are both passionate about The Paradise and want to work together to improve it. I mean, sure, there needs to be love in the relationship, but the latter part that brought them together was, comparatively speaking, underplayed in this series. I also found it very odd that Mrs. Moray, Moray first wife who died, is never mentioned and the giant portrait of her is no longer in Moray's office (which when Katherine tried to take it down last series, Mr. Jonas told her not to do it). So what happened to Moray between the series? Why, when he was in such deep mourning in Series 1 would he suddenly forget his first wife in the next series? Wouldn't it have been a little more realistic if he, at least, MENTIONED his first wife?

The new Mr. and Mrs. Weston
Katherine becomes more sympathetic in this series. In the previous series, we see her being very conniving and manipulative. She was a character where she looked pretty and her clothes were fabulous, but the character was not one that you would like. As you watch this series, you may think differently about Katherine. She has greatly improved since the first series. Since being jilted at the altar in the finale of Series 1, Katherine has married Tom Weston, who mistreats her and is, perhaps, more manipulative and conniving than she ever was. We now see her as being more vulnerable (maybe partially due to being jilted at the altar), sympathetic, and even likable. And her relationship with her new stepdaughter, Flora, is simply a sweet story line and only makes her more likable. Now, after all the manipulation that she did in the previous series, is it possible that she deserves her current situation? You could argue it. But nevertheless, I do feel sorry for her and sympathize with her situation.

Tom Weston, new owner of The Paradise
The villain for this series was Tom Weston, Katherine's husband, who is trying to keep The Paradise away from Moray because of his previous relationship with his wife. On the one hand, yes, you can see why Tom Weston and Moray never got along (Moray was Katherine's ex-fiancee after all), but a lot of time he goes out of his way to make Moray's life miserable for no reason. Spoiler I mean, sure, later in the series, he would have a valid excuse when Moray purposely toys with Katherine's feelings for him, but he was even mean to Moray before that happened. But then does Tom Weston even love Katherine? He was setting his eyes on salesgirl Clara. End of Spoiler There almost seems to be no redeeming characteristics for this man as he is even cruel to his daughter, Flora. From keeping her away from her stepmother (who she actually loves like a mother) to essentially calling her stupid, Tom Weston's good nature doesn't even come out with his interactions with his daughter. There is a little back story about his time in the army, but I found that those details were insufficient to justify his cruelty.

Clemence entering The Paradise
The addition to the cast that I found the most annoying (and keep in mind, this character was only in two episodes) was Moray's previous business partner, Clemence Romanis. She just seemed really out of place for the whole setting and there really wasn't much of a purpose to her. It seemed like she was just there to be shocking to the English, Victorian characters and that was it. Sure, you could argue that she encouraged Denise's ambitions, but the whole character ended up flopping in my opinion. I've seen this happen with a couple of period dramas: they bring in a character whose purpose is to be edgy and shocking (if not to us in the modern era, then to those in the time period of the story). It almost never works out.

The scenery remains much the same as the previous series. Tom Weston and Katherine make their home at Katherine's childhood home that she inherited from her father when he passed away, so even their home is much the same as it was in Series 1. Some minor changes to the store were made (it does have a new owner, after all), but The Paradise is much like it was last series.

The costumes continue to be beautiful, but there isn't much variation from the previous series, which took place sometime in the early 1870s. If we assume that the story takes place about two or three years after Series 1, then the year would be at least 1872 or 1873, which means that the fashions didn't really change all that much. Denise does get some new outfits Spoiler when she replaces Miss Audrey and becomes head of ladieswear End of Spoiler but that's roughly about it (her clothes were still nice, by the way). Katherine reused quite a few of her dresses from the previous series, which seems odd since she is rich and would have money to buy new dresses.

Overall: 4/5
Uh oh, I sense another argument coming on.
This series of The Paradise (as with many period dramas) was not as good as the first series, but still worth a watch. If you're looking for all new costuming and scenery, you'll probably disappointed on that score since neither has changed very much since Series 1, but the storyline continues to be interesting and provides new plot twists.While I did miss some of the characters that departed the show and while I did think the replacement characters paled in comparison, the replacement characters were decent enough. Moray and Denise do become a little more annoying in this series: the "will they, won't they" plot from the previous series worked better for them (dare I say that their budding romance should have been dragged out for two series like what Downton Abbey did?); instead it was "will they make goo-goo eyes at each other? Or will they fight again?" But still, it's worth a watch.

For the most part, the content remains around TV-PG. There was a very unnecessary bit between Clemence and Denise (which, I will repeat myself, really didn't need to be in there as it provided nothing to the plot). Some parts of Clemence's past come up; (thankfully) there weren't any flashbacks, only her telling about her past. Tom Weston is a bit of a philanderer (if he wasn't enough of a jerk as it was), but there are no accompanying scenes, merely some implications. The new cook at The Paradise is a little suggestive and whose neckline is a bit low.

The Paradise: Series 2 has not aired yet in America, but I suspect it will air sometime later this year. Series 2 is made up of eight 1-hour long episodes.

Overall: 4/5
So, I liked The Paradise and I do recommend it to period drama fans and historical costume fans, but taking into account both series (and the fact that it's been a long time since I first viewed it), it's not my absolute, top favorite period drama series. That's not to say I don't like it: on the contrary, I really enjoyed watching it. But on my list of favorite period dramas, this would actually fall fairly low on the list because there are other period dramas that I simply like better. It was still good, but there were other period dramas out there that just outshine it. While I had to really warm up to Mr. Selfridge, after watching Series 2 of it, I think Mr. Selfridge displaced The Paradise on my list of favorite period dramas (of course, I still remember that Series 1 of Mr. Selfridge wasn't anything to brag about, so I'm not saying that Mr. Selfridge was perfect either). But even though this section might sound a little negative, still, watch The Paradise; it is a good period drama that you may greatly enjoy.

Now, about The Paradise's cancellation, which has received some publicity in the period drama world. Was I upset about The Paradise being cancelled? A little bit, yes. I would have enjoyed watching another series. Will I accept it being cancelled? Yes. Even though I liked The Paradise and even though I would have continued to watch it if more series were produced, I'm okay with it being cancelled. It ended in an okay spot: no major cliffhangers or anything like that -- maybe not the greatest spot since there were some minor loose threads, but it ended decently enough. Now, do I support the effort to bring The Paradise back? Why not? I'd keep watching it. But if the effort failed, I wouldn't be heartbroken. I wasn't exactly thrilled with the directions that Denise and Moray's relationship was taking, but I would still be curious to see how it panned out in the end. But leaving it as it is might be a good thing in the end. It would be a shame for a third series to be made and have it ruin the entire show.


  1. I think what they need to do is bring Lark Rise to Candleford baaaack. Heehee. :D They could just bring it to three years later, or however long it's been. Like with Return to Cranford kind of.

    1. There was a petition to save Amelia Cordelia's job on Lark Rise to Candleford on Facebook


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