Top Five Things Poldark Has Given Us

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In honor of the series ending this summer in the U.K. and last month in the U.S., here I’m trying to say something nice about it. Oh Poldark (2015-19), you started out so promising, what with shirtless scything and suchlike! And then you fell fast into standard-issue historical soap opera, complete with rapey overtones and the endless BS of manchild Ross. Still, the show got ratings and gave folks something to talk about, right? What else?

Let’s scrape the bottom of the barrel and find something worth talking about from five years on Cornwall’s windswept cliffs…

 

 

More Episodes, More Hours

Poldark (2018)

This series lasted longer than the first one. Meaning, the 2010s series had five seasons (series, in U.K. speak) with 43 total episodes, versus the 1970s series that had two seasons with 29 total episodes. The ’70s show ended with Elizabeth Warleggan’s death soon after giving birth to her third child, but that doesn’t happen till the end of season 4 in the new show. So not only did this current version show more of the book series’ plots, it also stretched things out over time. Don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, you be the judge!

Poldark (2018)

 

Plenty of Aidan Turner on Telly

Poldark (2019)

OBVIOUSLY. But hey, let’s not knock it. He’s a pretty man, and we don’t object to objectifying him. Any time he strips his shirt off to get down with the people is just fine. Some folks liked him already in The Hobbit movies, but he was a little too scruffy for me, plus being digitally made shorter than Ian McKellen was kinda weird IMO. Aidan Turner was cuter in Desperate Romantics, but that was ages ago.

Poldark (2019)

 

Eleanor Tomlinson’s Rising Frock Star

Poldark (2019)

You think Aidan Turner’s big? Well compare IMDB listings since 2015 when Poldark started — Turner has 6 projects, while Tomlinson has 10! And many are of historical costume interest. She had small parts in Colette (2018) and Ordeal by Innocence (2018), she’s starring in The War of the Worlds (2019), and she has a significant role in The Nevers (2020). I’m betting that she’ll be a regular in TV and film costume dramas from now on, and I look forward to it. When given decent material, she can step up.

Poldark (2018)

 

All the Pups

Poldark (2018)

This one’s for Kendra, but also see me here, scraping said barrel-bottom. Demelza’s dog Garrick is a more significant character in the original series and the novels, and at least his barking saves her from a fire in the final season. But once Caroline Penvenen shows up, it’s Pug City. For a while, he’s just hiding the actress’s baby-bump, and then he finally gets to chill on his own. Horace is even the excuse Caroline gives for not wanting to return to London.

Poldark (2015)

 

Some Costumes of Some Sort

Poldark (2015)

Even though four designers worked on the costumes — Marianne Agertoft (2015), Susannah Buxton (2016), Ros Little (2016), and Howard Burden (2017-2018) — the look was pretty consistently samey and, let’s face it, rather dull from start to finish. You could make excuses about the middling social classes and isolation of Cornwall, but really, the show just went for that stripped-down basic look that’s so popular now in “historical” series. Maybe it’s cheaper? IDK, but that didn’t make us want to blog about it more than a few times.

Poldark (2018) Poldark (2017) Poldark (2017)

 

 

What will you miss about Poldark? Anything?

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

36 Responses

  1. Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

    I tapped out in the final season because I just couldn’t take Ross making more poor choices without realizing the consequences to Demelza or his family. Also, I hated his hair and everything about George Warleggan in this version.

    Reply
  2. mmcquown

    I won’t miss Ross’s stupids. I agree with Elizabeth that he made a lot of really poor choices. I think getting dumped into that mineshaft caused a brain injury.

    Reply
  3. ladylavinia1932

    I had enjoyed Season One and most of Season Two. But when the show runner had transformed that one night between Ross and Elizabeth from rape to a rape fantasy trope, I had lost all respect of the show. Graham had used the rape to show how women are victims of a misogynistic society. In the novels, Ross had spent nearly 30 years pretending that he had done nothing wrong and Elizabeth had paid for his act of violence against her up to her death. By changing the circumstances (BARELY) of what happened to Elizabeth, Debbie Horsfield changed Graham’s message.

    Then the show got worse with Horsefield’s never ending changes to Graham’s narrative and transforming his saga into a B level soap opera.And adding a final season that wasn’t based on any Graham’s novels was simply the last straw.

    Reply
    • Axauv

      It was rather funny and jarring for me that a show that was dripping in gratuitous (though historically accurate) cleavage suddenly removed every trace of it in season 5. I wonder if they switched costume designers between 4 and 5.

      Reply
  4. Amanda Poldark

    I’ll miss EVERYTHING about Poldark, especially the costumes! I learned how to sew thanks to Poldark and I especially loved the final season for becoming more diverse. I wish y’all would stop attacking period dramas for having “boring fashion”, there’s beauty you’re missing. Oh well I’m going to spend the next 5 years cosplaying Demelza, Elizabeth, Caroline, Kitty and Morwenna to spite the haters. ;)

    Reply
    • Chip Barnes

      I’m with you Amanda! I became a big fan of Aidan Turner and his incredible acting ability as well as Eleanor Tomlinson and the on screen chemistry between the two and will miss it, the awesome adaptation of the books and everyone on the show!

      Chip Poldark (Ross’s long lost older brother)

      Reply
  5. Lynne Connolly

    The rape theme was really key. I’m up with Turner like everyone else, but truthfully, it needed an actor of far more subtlety to carry off the true Ross storyline, a man of integrity who betrays himself and everyone around him when his impulsivity and temper gets the better of him.
    The story needed a lot more balls from the adaptors. They could easily have made it a real drama, rather than framing it as a romance.
    Looking at World On Fire, which replaced it in the UK, the creators were a lot more ballsy about one of the main characters, who becomes a prostitute for Poland, in order to kill as many Nazis as she could. And she’s married to another character, who you start out despising and end up seeing him facing his responsibilities. You watch him grow. He could have carried off the Ross role really well. Jonah Hauer-King.
    In Poldark the books, Ross is a dick. He isn’t a deep thinker, though he thinks he is. Maturity comes late to him. What saves him as a character is his integrity and his championing of the underdog.
    And I missed the fun of the books. There are some genuinely funny scenes which this series missed, or made serious.
    I watched it up to the end, but by then, it was determination rather than anticipation that got me there.

    Reply
    • Amanda Poldark

      I got kicked out of 6 Poldark fan groups for telling people Ross is a rapist and The Worst because a man wrote him and made excuses for him. Honestly I’m a Demelza fan first and foremost. I agree, World on Fire which is actually also from Poldark’s production company is much better with not making excuses for toxic masculinity. 🙃

      Reply
      • Chip Barnes

        I will have to add that to my list of ones to watch! I really like your comments Lynne and Amanda! Never thought of it from that perspective.

        Reply
      • Lee Jones

        I got kicked out of 6 Poldark fan groups for telling people Ross is a rapist and The Worst because a man wrote him and made excuses for him.

        Winston Graham had never made excuses for Ross’ rape of Elizabeth. He merely conveyed Ross’ unwillingness to admit that the latter had wronged Elizabeth until the last novel. Graham also made it clear to the readers via Elizabeth, and later Demelza and Jeremy that Ross was guilty. He also had Ross admit to himself in the final novel that he had raped Elizabeth. Ross got away with rape because he is a man. If Elizabeth had openly accused him of rape, she would have been shunned by society and her chances of marrying George Warleggan would have ended. And let’s face it . . . rapists rarely get punished for their crimes even today. Even if they were women.

        Reply
    • Claudia Trent

      Maturity comes late to him. What saves him as a character is his integrity and his championing of the underdog.

      That couldn’t save him for me. I never could forgive him for raping Elizabeth and pretending that he had done nothing wrong.

      Reply
      • Lynne Connolly

        That’s the romance approach, and they tried to make the series a romance, which it isn’t. You don’t have to look on him as a hero, just as a person who does things, some good, some bad.
        The books are about a man who develops and grows.
        Which is the other thing. they could have shown the passage of time better. And Ross’s deep regret, that pushes the story forward.

        Reply
  6. Katie O

    I feel like a lot of people are saying this, but I enjoyed the first season and parts of the second, but I just couldn’t anymore past that. Honestly if I had known that one of the main characters would rape another main character because of all his ~passionate feelings~ I doubt I ever would have even started it

    Reply
  7. Gail

    They are good books.
    I’ll miss it. It had some great acting by the principles. The costumes – well, they sure were ‘costumes’.

    Reply
  8. M.E. Lawrence

    I’ll miss Ruby Bentall as Verity, and wish she and her post-marriage narrative had gotten more attention. Bentall was perfect casting: plain, kind of mousy at times, and also radiant because Verity’s such a decent person. I’d cast her as Melanie Hamilton Wilkes in a remake of “Gone with the Wind.”

    O.T.: I kept looking at the photos and thinking, “And WHY does she have her hair down in this scene?” Thanks to Frock Flicks for making me aware of this eternal costume-movie error.

    Reply
  9. Charity

    I absolutely love Demzelda. She may be one of my favorite fictional heroines. So compassionate and kind yet feisty. And I pretty much adore Eleanor Tomlinson, I look forward to seeing her new projects.

    Ross is a first class douche-bucket, though. Not only is he one of the biggest dumb-asses in costume dramas, he’s a tool who never realizes when he’s done the wrong thing — which is most of the time. I lost count of the times he seriously pissed me off, and that was long before the controversial “scene.” I still haven’t seen the last season yet, though I’m def. going to just for Eleanor and the pretty Regency clothes.

    Reply
  10. Diana

    I stopped watching after season two, knowing what was coming; I liked the first two seasons but from what I heard the adaptation fell apart from there. I may or may not sit down to watch it at some point and do my own critical take. I agree with a lot of the commentary above- Graham’s novels are really about how a patriarchal society treats women, and Ross is presented from the beginning as a deeply flawed man who makes dreadful choices, while Demelza is really the heroine who carries the entire thing.

    Reply
  11. Patricia Slavin

    I loved Poldark & all the great actors in it. For those that complained that Ross raped Elizabeth, it looked to me she protested at first, but when he kissed her she was seduced. I wouldn’t have resisted him at all. He’s so gorgeous & sexy!

    Reply
    • Lynne Connolly

      they softened it for TV audiences. They’d made Ross too much of a hero. In the book, he rapes her. It’s important, a turning point for Ross, because he has to face the consequences of his decision and his rash behaviour. Up to that point, things had turned out well for him. Then, when Elizabeth falls pregnant, he chooses not to tell George, which is the first mature thing he does. From then on, he starts to grow up.

      Reply
      • Lee Jones

        Ross had spent the next 27 years after raping Elizabeth, pretending that he had done nothing wrong. I don’t see that as a sign of maturity. It was Elizabeth who had chosen not to tell George or anyone else, because she would have suffered even more from Ross’ crime.

        Reply
  12. Sandra Smith

    Yes, I will admit, i was pissed that Ross violated Elizabeth, then acted as if he was deserving. He was highly upset that Elizabeth was going to marry George, but she had to be able to take care of herself and Jeffery Charles. Anyway, I was thrilled when Demelza took revenge by slugging Ross the morning he had the audacity to come home, lol. Any other proud woman would have done the same thing. All in all, i will miss the series, but not as much as I miss Downton Abbey!!

    Reply
    • Erin Crow

      “I was thrilled when Demelza took revenge by slugging Ross the morning he had the audacity to come home, lol.”

      I thought that part was silly. A small woman like Tomlinson knocking a man like Turner down with just a blow to the face is comical. Extremely unrealistic. Even kicking him wouldn’t have done it. Can’t generate enough force and weight. In the book, Demelza didn’t attempt it. She broke a bunch of dishes, though.

      Reply
  13. Shashwat

    Period dramas in general have the tendency to thrust romance in the story when there is no scope for it.Poldark suffered from the same;what could have been a nihilist and fatalist byronic hero is reduced to a lovelorn puppy eyed man child.

    Reply
  14. Isabella Macy

    I loved the 70’s Poldark with Robin Ellis. Was slightly shocked that there were more series this go round but not at all displeased cos I could watch Aidan Turner for days, even when the manchild is chucking his toys out of his pram 😂😂

    Reply
  15. Annie

    I love the Cornwall scenery and will miss it. It took me a long time to get past the lipstick; it just looked so modern.

    Reply
  16. Constance

    Season 5 does give us more George Warleggen chin…but even better, he is cracking up, talking to Elizabeth as if she were still there…and his wicked uncle rolling his,eyes. George & his chin are losing it but not so much to leave off his evilness…now he wants to use slave labor…the ultimate in “free labor.” Not paying for labor is a dream come true to George…

    Reply
  17. Badger

    Well, a small thing I am grateful for is that it was in Cornwall. I am part Cornish and have spent my life having to refer to that stupid game hen, as most peoples only reference to “things Cornish”. Now at least I can also reference Poldark :-)

    Reply

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