English country life could never have been as poetic, pictorial, and enchanting as this dramatization of the lives of those living in and around the two 1880's towns of Lark Rise and Candleford. Even the DVD's music puts a sanguine sugarcoating on the period. All of this is to the delight of the viewer of this masterfully done TV series sure to endear any North American who has a tender video heart toward Victorian Britain. Perhaps, consider it a British mutation of "Little House on the Prairie" or "The Waltons." A more earthy twist to "Upstairs Downstairs," another Brit historical period series not to be missed.
This set has 6 episodes of the commoner Lark Rise village and the more sophisticated Candleford. The short 8-mile separation allows for much intermingling, bigotry, conflict, forbidden love, political and economic interaction. It is not a family saga, not a nobility bloodline dramatization, but a saga of struggles and lifestyles of different kinds of personalities, each caught in their own born-into world, and interacting with another different, and not always understood, class of folk.
Darling Laura Timmins (Olivia Hallinan), Lark Rise born, was sent to Candleford to learn the trade of postmistress. She is the spark caught between the two towns (sometimes world's different.) Her mentor is Dorcas (Julia Sawalha.) Plenty of past characters returning to make it a continuation in cast and story from the previous season.
The cast is an assortment of either the die-hard, disheveled, working class or the Candleford higher class, shy of nobility range. Cast individuals make this memorable.
One episode travels into the next with carryover from earlier material. If you have the time, watch all 6 back to back. TV viewers must have waited impatiently for the next installment. Episodes has multiple plots so it is hard to break down the 6 episodes into short summaries. And with carryover from one episode to another, it's more like moving to Lark Rise or Candleford and living with the good people (and the bad). A delightful scenic experience even Disney has never matched.
Ah, Queenie (Linda Bassett), an old bee keeper, a favorite of mine, will make you laugh and cry, perhaps in the same scene. She can only be upstaged by her hubby, Twister (Karl Johnson.) Love that pair. Ruby (Victoria Hamilton) is back without her man, oops. Thomas (Mark Heap) is a postal delivery man who yet helps keep Christianity alive and aloud. Laura's ma, Emma (Claudie Blakley) is here, but pa, Robert is off working elsewhere. Well, the list could go on.
Locations and sets to dream of as a vacation spot. Costumes to dazzle, delight, and disgust, depending upon the event. Every emotion you have ever felt in your past will be repeated sometime throughout this English town saga. The adapted books by Flora Thompson have never been read by this reviewer, but I can't imagine them being as fine as this TV series (and I'm a book lover). A superb British cast has perfected this story.
Downside? Only 6 episodes, you'll want more.
Recommendation? BUY NOW! It's that good.
If you have not seen Series 1, 2, & 3, get those first. Watch them in order. It's worth every wee farthing.
on April 30, 2011
It was a disappointment. Brendan Coyle, Laura's father, left the cast in the previous season, presumably for his role in Downton Abbey. His leaving could have been handled a little differently or at least adequately addressed in this season. That created a glaring hole in the storyline, for me. Everything seemed rushed, condensed to the point of absurdity. There were far fewer episodes. Things about the characters that seemed like little flaws were suddenly magnified. Julia Sawalhas smirks and expressions really started to get on my nerves and I found myself wanting to throw an imaginary cream pie at her. Don't get me wrong, I admire her as an actress! The young woman who played Laura, while enchanting in so many ways, had the annoying habit of moving her head a lot every time she spoke. I guess because the stories, for me, weren't as good as the other seasons, some of the characters seemed more like caricatures of their former selves, I started focusing on these things instead. Dawn French's coming back was nice. I'll miss the two sisters, and especially Queenie and her husband. Wish things could have been different with this season: more story, less feeling like it was a rushed and careless ending to what had been an enjoyable, gentle romp through time.
on November 13, 2013
I enjoyed watching this series. I like period pieces and this one hit the spot.
The characters were wonderful, with good casting and acting. Every character had their own unique personality. You got a taste of the more proper upper class and the laid back lower class.
I did find that the characters acted a bit immature at times, especially when it came to dealings with one another about love and attraction. It was also a little unrealistic with how the classes mingled. The other unrealistic thing was how there were hints of Atheism when it came to Dorcas's views. I felt that in this time period, speaking of Darwin and such would not be taken well in this time.
I'm going to discuss some of the characters here now, because I feel it's interesting to read what other people thought of them.
I loved Minnie's character. She was full of life and you could tell she felt emotions to the extreme. She was also pretty amusing. I have known someone similar to this in person so these people do exist. I really was impressed in the scene where she told off Mrs. Arless. She really was a dynamic actress and her spirit was admirable. Usually characters who are proclaimed as "unattractive" get sulky and depressed but Minnie stayed positive and knew her good traits so this was nice to see in a tv show. I also noticed how since Alf's mother was so full of life, it made sense that he chose a girl who also was very spunky.
I liked Dorcas Lane also. I thought she was extremely pretty and even though she was a bit older of age, she had a beauty which shined. She was a model of grace always showed a proper face to the public, serving them delicious foods. I noticed she seemed very good at showing when she was sad underneath but was mustering up a smile to greet people with. This sort of sad look though did seem to get a bit repetitive as she often wore it. Probably my favorite scene with her was on the prankster night. It was nice to see her having some fun. I wasn't really happy with who she ended up with though. I didn't really see what spark was between her and her choice, and the guy honestly seemed a little shabby in dress and I hated his stringy bangs. She was more suited imo to someone more prince-ly or king-ly. I couldn't help but feeling she just clung on to this guy because he was a man and around. I felt that her original love interest was more suited for her, and I found it sad that he ended up sticking it out in a less-than-ideal marriage.
My other two favorites were Twister and Queenie. Twister was pretty hilarious with his quips and strange gallivanting personality. I liked his dynamic with Queenie: the wise strong beekeeper of the town. I admired Queenie's character. She seemed to hold the town together in a way. Though I wondered sometimes where they got their income from to stay in their cottage. My favorite scene with them was definitely the dragon fight. It was pretty amusing- you got to see their dynamic come out here, and their reconciliation after the fight was sweet.
I thought it was a little odd that even though Laura Timmins was the narrator, she was not one of the strongest characters and did not often become the center of the show. I didn't think this was a bad thing as her character wasn't that great, although it did seem odd that her narrative at the beginning and end seemed to have quite a bit more wisdom than her character did. I suppose it could be her narrating as an adult with a more grown-up mind which could explain it.
The Pratt sisters were quite interesting too. They came off as sort of the more sinister meddling characters at first, but then showed their softer sides. I saw some symbolism there where they were always dressed in black at first, yet once their characters got softer they changed to brighter clothes. I admired the elder sister for her strength, and the younger one for her heart (Though Ruby's constant teary-eyedness got a tad annoying). Regardless, they made a good team. I was disappointed we never got to see Ruby's love interest though.
Anyway, I could go on as there were more interesting and likable characters, but I will stop there. What I really loved about this series was that not one character was all good or all evil. They all had their faults and showed both their good and bad sides.
One point of disappointment in the show for me was when they showed the "ghost." This show seemed to be set in a realistic world, and I felt that the ghost spirit contradicted the setting in this series. I felt it would have been better if they had left us guessing who the girl really was, leaving it open to be a real person who was caught up in the story of the past. Yet when they showed her basically disappearing in thin air, I found this to be out of place and a little silly.
Overall, I really enjoyed this series. It was a fun ride and I was sad to see it end. I will miss this world of Lark Rise and Candleford and wish they would make more seasons.
on March 2, 2011
Charmingly entertaining, this series is a wholesome delight to the vintage senses, from darling start to sudden finish. (The only true downside being that this series was just stopped short at essentially a half of season four - for some strange and unanswerable reason, having absolutely nothing to do with and seemingly ignoring the fact that the show has enjoyed very high ratings and passionate fans in the UK - to the US and beyond.)
I discovered this engaging series about a year ago and was entirely thrilled to have stumbled upon it. I couldn't watch every episode of the first three seasons fast enough and then promptly watched every show once more at a more leisurely and enjoyable pace. I couldn't wait for season four to arrive this year and have recently seen every episode once (and I'm about to watch them all again for the second satisfying time). I'm glad that many storyline threads were wrapped up quite nicely at the end, but still wish this series had continued through the few more seasons that it was meant to be in the first place. (Could fans bring this back in any way any time soon - either side of the pond - maybe a co-production?!)
Adorned with lovely late Victorian dresses and details, complete with wonderful actors and their perfect performances, abounding with cute and quirky characters running the gamut from silly to snarky to sweet: this series of episodes (in basically three and a half seasons) offers plenty of thought-provoking and interesting themes while it evokes smiles, laughter and even some tears (at least to the sensitive of heart).
The women I know who have seen it have loved it like I do, and even some men I know have watched and enjoyed it too. This series is certainly family fare. There is plenty to think about... Poverty contrasting against monetary ease. A poor hamlet sometimes in contest with a thriving town. Class structure. Old traditions versus new ideas. Neighborly and not always so very neighborly folks. Human nature and divine beliefs. Conservative thoughts opposing liberal views of that late nineteenth century day. Religion and politics, business and love. It's a cornucopia of fulfilling fun.
Miss Lane and young Laura each fall in love their several times throughout, as they both think on marriage: to be or not to be. Many families and individuals take their turns facing their financial troubles and personal challenges. Characters of many types come and go within the storylines. There are wise women, careless ones, loveable but flawed individuals, caring parents, good and bad fathers, and the list goes on. Many of the actors were gone too much or too soon for my tastes. One thing for sure: what I've seen has left me wanting more; but I will thank my blessings and enjoy what was done of this wonderful series.
on May 26, 2016
My One Weakness - Dorcas Lane
First, as a long-time, huge film/movie Fan, over the past 10 years I keep returning to the Classic’s, and have loved Reading and Watching anything to do with Charles Dickens genre (David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Bleak House, Great Expectations, etc, etc)
Why? because Hollywood has shifted to a consistent menu of young, brainless “Super-Hero’s”, all sugar-coated, laughing stock “productions” via wholly-dependent on a Humongous diet of CGI + Special Effects. How many Transformer’s, X-Men, Captain America, Fast&Furious, etc, can one take?. Just to clear, I love CGI + SE, but ONLY in the Sci-Fi genre ... Yes, more please!
That said, the BBC has long been known as the undisputed world leaders when producing both Modern & Period Drama for TV, and locally featured on PBS in the US.
As a linguist, I'm really interested in local and regional Dialects. One of the other reasons I have become such a Huge Fan of BBC, is to re-acquaint myself with the "King's English", so succinctly and properly spoken in various dialects, meters, and tones; along with the proper Manners of the day.
It's a absolute Joy to hear and enough to induce a diabetic coma in a wordsmith.
In addition, it clearly marks the distinction between the British English and our American one(s).
An adaptation of Flora Thompson's autobiographical novel "Lark Rise To Candleford", set in 19th century Oxfordshire, in which a young girl moves to the local market town to begin an apprenticeship as a postmistress.
After Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and then Cranford, I thought that the BBC had peaked. Man, was I wrong. After watching other UK suggested titles like North & South, The Paradise, Daniel Deronda, Bleak House, Cranford, etc, and then Lark Rise, all my doubts were removed at once, as I fell in love with all the characters, especially Julia Sawalha (my own one weakness), who surpasses herself, obviously moving away from her most famous role as Lydia Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, and she totally Rocks My Twister - Dr. Seuss Socks!
Story-line - The hamlet of Lark Rise is sleepy, and just as enthralling as the 'modern' town of Candleford. All the little stories within each episode, as well as those expanding throughout the entire series, make it a joy to watch, while being excited to see the next episode, and the next ... The characters in this little community manage to rise above their conflicts, see past each others' foibles, with an inherent support and love for each other.
I was surprised by just how much we ALL have In Common, simply because it transported me into my own past and tapped into my solo & family experiences, good/bad behavior learning curves, superstitions, constant dramas ... all in my very own Northern New Mexico, rural/farming/ranching “hamlet”, and just down-the-road to our nearest tiny, Town, with it’s own downtown, tiny “Square” with Clock.
Lark Rise is a great example of how much we are all experiencing the SAME dramas and foibles in 2016, that is depicted in this 19th century series. Even the Characters feel exactly “familiar” to me, albeit, with modern Names. I have known People like Twister, Emma & Laura Timmins, Thomas Brown, Alf Arless, Dawn French & Queenie ... Haven’t we all?
Seems like the character played by Dawn French received a lot of "hate" reviews before. I believe that is is merely People "projecting" their Family members, whose alcoholic (or addition) personality, drama, irresponsible behavior and Girth, is playing back some form of family-own related sense of family-related humiliation. Dawn French "Nail's" her character being appropriate for our own present AA circumstances.
This Period Drama Series is reinforced by a gorgeous soundtrack, beautiful camera work, amazing sets, scenery, and costumes, seamless fine directing (via 13 Directors), and a rich cast of interesting characters. Each episode focus’s on one or two of the little anecdotes of the story.
The production values are exquisite; the costumes are colorful and ravishing, with the sets lavish and the scenery is gorgeous. The scripts are of exceptional quality, funny, poignant and endearing, and the direction and story lines are exquisitely fine. The acting is also truly OUTSTANDING, Julia Sawalha is a sheer delight especially, and well supported by Dawn French, Linda Bassett, Sarah Lancashire and Mark Heap.
My Own One Weakness - Julia Sawalha!
Set locations - The landscapes were "extraordinary"... without a doubt a rival to many of the great landscapes in Cranford, Jane Austin, and Downton Abbey. Lark Rise is based on Juniper Hill in North Oxfordshire near the Northamptonshire border.
Downton Abbey, has also run it's own course, with some of it's actors that "made their bpnes" in Lark Rise, Cranford, and others, before Downton.
Can't wait for the next BBC Period Piece ... I hope that it's more of the same, as my table is full of delights and my fireplace is crackling ...
Until next time ... Aloha from the Hawaiian Archipelagos ...