Customer Review

95 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Paradise is a high quality Masterpiece Theater program., October 8, 2013
This review is from: The Paradise: Season 1 (DVD)
The Paradise is the new Masterpiece Theater series that started Sunday, Oct. 6. Amazon viewers are almost unanimous in their praise of this fine program.

We are immediately introduced to our heroine Denise, well played by Joanna Vanderham, who has just come to the city from the country. She tries to get a job from her uncle, but his store is being slowly put out of business by an exciting new department store called The Paradise. Denise applies for and is given a job on probation as a trainee in dress sales.

The owner of The Paradise, Mr. Moray, played well by Emun Elliott, is determined to make his establishment the finest store of its kind in England. He has plenty of good ideas, but lacks the money to put his ideas into practice. He seeks financial assistance from Lord Glendenning, well played by the veteran actor Patrick Malahide. Lord Glendenning takes an interest in Moray only because his daughter loves the young man and begs her father to help him. It appears that Moray takes advantage of young Lady Glendenning because she is useful to him, but he finds country girl Denise with her bright intelligence, attractive looks, and good ideas more to his liking.

The conflicts in the story come from many sources. First, paying the bills and developing the business bring Moray into many disagreements with his conservative partner. Then the shop girls with their high spirits have a variety of problems keeping out of trouble. Lastly, and the focus of the first installment, a draper in the store is caught kissing the friend of young Lady Glendenning and is danger of being sacked. All these plot lines are well connected and the writing, acting, and directing are first-rate.

The Paradise has the excellent production values that we expect from Masterpiece Theater. It looks good and succeeds in pulling us in to the world of the high end department store where much of the action of the story takes place. I have only seen the first program in the series, but am already looking forward to next Sunday and part two of this entertaining adaptation of Emile Zola's fine novel, The Ladies Paradise, which is now available on Kindle.

I will update this review after watching the show next week.

Update one: The second installment of The Paradise presented an interesting problem: What should Moray do with a newborn baby left abandoned in the store. True to his character, he decided to care for the baby in the store and use the child as a promotional device to build sales. Of course, Denise has ideas about how to turn the problem of caring for the child into an opportunity to expand the services of the store. This second installment provided much human interest and also helped us learn more about the important characters in the series. I enjoyed the second installment even more than the first, perhaps because I now know the extensive cast of characters who each have their problems that are cleverly related to the discovery and care for The Paradise baby. I look forward to next week and the continuing story of The Paradise. Highly recommended.

Update two: Miss Audrey,in charge of dress sales and well-played by Sarah Lancashire, becomes ill and takes to her bed. Denise is named to replace her. Denise convinces Mr. Moray that Miss Audrey's illness is stress related and that he should praise and reward her, which he does; she becomes well and returns to work. Additionally, Miss Glendenning decides to renew her romance with Moray. This third episode of the series lacked the drama and conflict of the first two installments. I trust that the series will return to form next week.

Update three: The Paradise has taken a dramatically different turn in Epidode Three by introducing a bit of skullduggery. Moray buys out a barber who owns a shop across the street from The Paradise by offering him a limited partnership in the business. The barber turns out to be an embarrassment and Moray wants to get rid of him, but Mr. Jonas tells Moray that the barber has dangerous secrets about the mysterious death of Moray's wife. The plot thickens. Meanwhile, Denise continues to contribute useful ideas to the store. This was an excellent installment and a return to form for the series.

Update four: Denise has now left The Paradise to work with her uncle, a dressmaker whose shop across the street from The Paradise has fallen on hard times. This marks a new beginning for this excellent series. Now Denise has a chance to practice her entrepreneurial skills. She brings other store owners on the street together to form a cooperative to compete with The Paradise and is initially successful only to fail in the end. The plucky Denise is now the central character in this fine series. That being said, we can expect twists and turns to keep us interested in The Paradise and the extensive cast of characters. I look forward to Sunday evening and a new installment of this fine Masterpiece Theater program.

Final update: Instead of tying up plot strands neatly to end the first season of The Paradise, much is left unresolved. We must wait patiently to pick up the story of Moray and Denise, the Glendennings (father and daughter), Miss Audrey, Mr. Jonas, etc. We are given strong hints about what will happen when we resume our story, but we can't be sure we are correct -- just what the filmmakers want, to keep us in suspense.

I, for one, will be coming back to The Paradise next season. This series fits nicely into the tradition of high quality programs we have come to expect from Masterpiece Theater. Highly recommended.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 12, 2013 11:19:29 AM PST
Since you are reviewing the PBS BROADCAST version of the series, I wanted to clarify for you and readers of your review that....The PBS version if the series (which ran 50 minutes) are the "American" edited version. The BBC Home video contains the complete 61-minute BBC episodes.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2013 2:17:00 PM PST
Steven, thanks for the information. Unfortunately, PBS cuts programs to fit them in to convenient time slots.
Best regards, Russell

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2013 2:20:06 PM PST
It does. I spend a lot of time commenting on other BBC Series that folks don't realize are edited.

Posted on Mar 1, 2014 1:19:18 PM PST
P. G. Croft says:
I'd just like to point out that, the end credit's shown on each of the second season episodes, does not have the 'Masterpiece Theatre' connection, with the BBC Logo above it, as with all episodes of the first season. Maybe 'Master---' pulled out of the second season deal, and the long delay between seasons may account for it? P G Croft UK
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Russell Fanelli
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