Lark Rise to Candleford: Season 4
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243 of 247 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2011
Season 4 is the final season. There are six episodes only and the fact that they are rushing to a conclusion means that they are not as good as the previous 3 seasons. Still quite entertaining but you get the feeling that things are winding down. The final episode rushes along in order to make sure that all of the loose ends are tidied up. Contrary to the blurb, Brendan Coyle does not appear in this season. Be prepared to feel disappointed. The high production standard is generally maintained but the writer and director were hamstrung by the BBCs desire to dump the show as soon as possible. Quite why the Beeb took the unusual step to dump a show which has had very good viewing figures for these series is beyond me. Because of the hurried ending I have awarded 4 stars which is a pity because I have really enjoyed watching this programme. It has been my one weakness.,
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89 of 93 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon February 18, 2011
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.

Subtitles? Yes!
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.
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97 of 108 people found the following review helpful
Lark Rise to Candleford is a charming BBC period drama that tackles myriad themes, and is adapted from Flora Thompson's semi-autobiographical novel. In the first season, young Laura Timmins (Olivia Hallinan) leaves her village of Lark Rise to work as an assistant to the postmistress in Candleford, Dorcas Lane ( a brilliant Julia Sawalha who first impressed me as Lydia Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (Restored Edition)). Through the course of the first season, Laura discovers that she enjoys living in the more affluent town of Candleford, and experiences the pangs of adolescence, including romantic entanglements. Dorcas Lane, the kind-hearted and sensible postmistress also goes through some pangs of her own, largely to do with her friendship with squire, Sir Timothy Midwinter (Ben Miles) who is married to the beautiful and composed Lady Adelaide (Olivia Grant). In the first season, viewers got to see the themes of marital strife, conflicts between the upper and lower classes, romantic entanglements, and other issues played out.

By the second season, both Sir Timothy and Lady Adelaide have moved to London, but there is still plenty of drama in Dorcas' life with the arrival of James Dowland (Jason Merrells), a former inhabitant of Lark Rise, a local boy who has done well in life. A young clockmaker, Fisher Bloom (Matthew McNulty) comes to town, and Laura finds herself attracted to Fisher, though he seems oblivious to her charms, initially. Laura's parents, Robert and Emma Timmins (Brendan Coyle & Claudie Blakley) who have always been a very close and loving couple find themselves facing some marital strife in their marriage, and this second season takes an intimate look at their dynamics as a couple.

Season Three sees the introduction of a significant new character, Daniel Parrish (played by Ben Aldridge), a young journalist who arrives in Lark Rise with some life-altering news for the Timmins. The independent and strong-willed Dorcas Lane continues as Candleford's postmistress, and experiences some human drama of her own, taking on a role that she finds fulfills her immensely. Unlike previous seasons, Dorcas' story is no longer the only dominant thread this season, as other characters begin to get more screen time, such as postman Thomas Brown (Mark Heap) and his devoted wife Margaret Ellison (Sandy McDade); Minnie the maid (clumsy and awkward yet so innocent and plain speaking); the wise and at times clairvoyant Queenie Turrill (Linda Bassett) and her simpleton husband Twister; young Alf Arless (John Dagliesh), the Pratt sisters, Ruby and Pearl (Victoria Hamilton and Matilda Zeigler), and others.

In the final season i.e. Season Four, viewers only get to watch six episodes. There is also a significant absence in the form of actor Brendan Coyle (who played Robert Timmins). In the story, Robert's character is portrayed as having gone off to work elsewhere to send money home to his family (in actual fact, actor Brendan Coyle had landed a meaty role in the period drama Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey (Original UK Unedited Edition)). The first episode sees the introduction of a new character Gabriel Cochrane (Richard Harrington)who has lost his once flourishing foundry business to the bank and who is also recently widowed. Luckily for Gabriel, Dorcas offers him a job and a home and the people of Candleford welcome him into their fold. Gabriel however is intent on reclaiming his former position and vows to get back at the people who have cost him his livelihood. Emma Timmins finds herself at wits' end when the money sent by her husband Robert is lost by her son Edmund. In the second episode, Daniel Parrish who runs the local paper, organizes a poetry writing competition and Laura gets upset when there is insinuation of favoritism toward her (since Daniel and Laura are courting). In the third episode, Thomas the postman is ecstatic when he is put in charge of the church bazaar but clashes with the new reverend, forward thinking curate Reverend Marley. The reverend's relationship with Emma Timmins also gives rise to gossip. In the fourth episode, Alf and Minnie's love is tested when Alf wins the title King of the Fair and Queenie finds herself upset at Twister when he does something behind her back, involving a pig Queenie won. Episode Five revolves around a cricket match where Daniel is intent on victory against a neighboring town. Only problem is that Daniel's fledgling team lacks superior players, until he finds an unexpected star player. The final episode sees Gabriel working on an invention that may restore his wealth and standing, and it also focuses on the developing attraction between Gabriel and Dorcas. But are these two strong-willed and fiercely independent souls too independent-minded for their own good?

Frankly, I was rather underwhelmed by this final season. The actors did an amazing job in their roles, yet the stories just appeared to lack the extra 'something' that made the previous three seasons so special and incredibly addictive. None of the episodes in this season (well, except for the final episode perhaps) seemed to engage me as deeply as some of the episodes in the previous seasons - Dorcas' torment regarding her relationship with Sir Timothy Midwinter and the impact on Sir Timothy's wife (one of my favorite episodes was the one where Sir Tim's wife finds the abandoned girl and insists on raising her as their own given their childlessness, and then goes berserk when she finds Dorcas and Timothy have been sort of 'plotting' behind her back); the exploration of Emma and Robert Timmins' marriage and the episode where Emma tries to assert some independence and find her own 'voice'; the romance between Thomas and Ms. Ellison (their courtship is so comical yet sweet); the episode where both Candleford and Lark Rise come together to help with the harvest and the way the two communities deal with tragedy, and many more. I also did not care much for the character Gabriel Cochrane and felt the chemistry between Dorcas and Gabriel lacked credibility.

Despite the flaws in this season's episodes, I still gave it five stars if only because the acting was top-notch and the cinematography was spectacular as always. I will miss this series dearly and can only hope that the BBC will bring the cast back for at least a TV movie and tie up the loose ends - it would be a nice treat for the fans of LRTC.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2011
absolutely wonderful and entertaining, I enjoyed it so much I immediately wanted to buy the actual book and learn more about it. I bought all the avalible seasons of it and hope somehow someway they continue to make more like it. They had actors from other famous and well known bbc series like north and south, pride and prejudice... it was amazing to see how some actors have aged and others make you yearn for actors like them in the United States that it is more about art and craft not $$$ dollar signs and press
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2011
Lark Rise to Candleford is in season 4 and having viewed the first 3 seasons at least twice I think it is one of best. . From script to acting.this show excels at presenting a "slice of life" of normal folk. The main story line is the interaction between the people in the poor hamlet of LarkRise and the well to do more progressive residents of neighboring Candleford. The post office is a main background as is the local Wagons and Horses Pub of the hamlet folk. Julia Sawalha ( BBC Pride and Prejudice's Lydia) is the postmistress has so much charm it is "her one weakness" .The cast is not lacking in talent or appeal.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
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.

--------Spoilers---------

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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2015
I had been watching this show and really enjoying it. I watched an episode this past Sunday, but when I went to watch Episode 4 on Monday, I found that the program was no longer available. Just like that! There had been no warning--and I am very angry as I was thoroughly engrossed in the show. I was halfway through the final episode and Amazon yanked the rug out from under me so to speak. I have enjoyed watching other BBC series on Amazon Prime and now wonder if this will happen again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2011
I tried to stretch the 32 episodes of this series out as long as possible, not wanting it to end, but I could not help sliding another DVD into the machine almost as soon as one ended. I was hooked. The people in Larkrise and Candleford became like friends that I had to check back in with almost daily. The production of this series was extraordinarily well done, and the actors were amazing. I would advise anyone who watches it to view all 32 episodes first, then watch the extra features afterwards, starting with the last DVD in the final season (4)which includes a discussion of the village in which Flora Thompson, the author of the book on which the series is based, grew up. After that piece, go back from the beginning of the series and watch the extra features; not all the DVD's has extra material, but at least one in each season does. Fascinating material and very well presented. The producer and everyone who worked on this series, have gone to great lengths on authenticity of costume, tools, politics and practices of that time. I'm already looking forward to watching the series again, but for now, I have purchased Flora Thompson's book, "Lark Rise to Candleford, a trilogy" whose 500+ pages promise to provide several days of delightful reading.
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