Masterpiece Classic: Mr. Selfridge (UK Edition)
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Emmy® Award-winning actor Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”) stars as American entrepreneur and colorful retail magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge.
Pioneering and reckless, with an almost manic energy, Harry Selfridge created a theater of retail for early 1900s Londoners where any topic or trend that was new, exciting, entertaining – or sometimes just eccentric – was showcased. Based on the book “Shopping, Seduction and Mr. Selfridge” by author Lindy Woodhead.
The eight-part miniseries also stars Frances O’Connor (“Madame Bovary”), Aisling Loftus (“Page Eight”), Zoe Tapper (“Zen”), Amanda Abbington (“Case Histories”), and Samuel West (“Any Human Heart”).
Much like the department store it depicts, Mr. Selfridge presents a sumptuous display of gorgeous clothing, magnificent hairstyles, and enviable period decor. Jeremy Piven (Entourage) stars as bluff, driven Harry Selfridge, who arrives in London at the start of the 20th century determined to launch a modern retail empire, promoting the notion of shopping as a pleasure unto itself. The series explores the cultural shifts of the time--the rise of advertising, women's emancipation, and more--while following a sudsy series of affairs and scandals among the store's staff, as well as the marital turmoil of Selfridge himself. Most engaging is a young clerk, Agnes Towler (Aisling Loftus), who's torn between a handsome waiter at the store's restaurant and the dashing French window decorator Henri Leclair (Grégory Fitoussi), who also woos Agnes for her creative contributions to his designs. Unfortunately, the series' writing isn't as enticing as its fabrics; the recurring financial crises and romantic travails never seem to amount to much real emotion or suspense, and the characters never take on much dimension. Piven, who you'd think would be perfect for the role, is oddly leaden and never seems to have much of a fire within for business or sex. His best scenes capture moments of doubt; his brash facade doesn't have much charisma, but when his smile loses its plastic cheer, it's hard not to sympathize with his failing confidence. However, for anyone who's lusted after the outfits in Downton Abbey and other Edwardian dramas, Mr. Selfridge will be a feast for the eyes. --Bret Fetzer
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Top customer reviews
In the days before television, video games, the internet and all of the technological advantages that we take for granted today, Mr. Selfridge understood the value of showmanship. His department store including an auditorium for guest speakers. He sensationalized many of the important events of the period such as having the first man to fly across the English channel appear in his store. He had world renown Freda Whittaker skate on a roof-top rink. He had Wimbledon champion Suzanne Lenglen demonstrate her serve on a rooftop court.
To battle the aroma of horse manure which was an unfortunate reality of the time, he put a cosmetics counter in the front of his store. Not only did he help pioneer selling cosmetics to ladies but by having the cosmetics counter in the front of the story, the sprayed perfume helped to mask the odor of the horse manure that some customers inadvertently brought in from having walked in the city streets.
Mr. Selfridge was a great lover of gadgets. He sold telephones, refrigerators, and ice making machines. He demonstrated the first television sets in London back in 1925. He enticed so many people to his store through lectures, theatrics, demonstrations, displays, sales events, food service, and other attractions that at one point he was able to proudly boast that Selfridge's was the THIRD largest tourist attraction in London after Buckingham Palace and the Tower.
Watching this series is like having a window into time.
If only Amazon had more episodes! I'll be turning off my cable TV this weekend, and switching to watching Amazon streaming TV. I found that even if I paid Amazon for everything I usually watch, it would be hundreds of dollars less per year than I'm paying now for cable TV. The downside seems to be that I'll have to wait for some of the episodes to be available on Amazon.
But, sometimes they're on Amazon before they are on TV in the US (as was the case with Downton Abbey).
But anyway, if you aren't patient to wait for new episodes, you might want to bookmark this series and watch it later when all the episodes are available to watch in a row. But don't forget it! It's worth watching!
(Update! I just looked, and since last week Amazon has added a few episodes. Now they have up to episode 4!)
All of the other characters deepen and grow throughout the series. But, Mr. Selfridge, himself, is enigmatic and a dreamer, who believes he can do it no matter what.
I was ecstatic when I found I can watch the whole miniseries with my Prime membership. In the meantime, hubby can watch his shows on our TV. Now that I've cut cable, even more than before, I will be spending time watching this again.
While I know, from research I've done, that the show wasn't true to the real life of Mr. Selfridge, I still enjoy the version that is represented, and it is pretty close to the truth.
I will buy the seasons, separately, so I can watch the DVD's on my TV. That is how much I like this show. I don't buy DVD's that often as I hardly ever watch them unless I really like a movie or show. So, that, in itself, says something about Mr. Selfridge.