Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Welcome Back Mr. Selfridge

Season Two of Mr. Selfridge is off to a great start! I wonder if the producers took a page from Harry's book after lackluster Season One: “Writers, up your game or you’re out!”

Season Two, set five years later in 1913, has bloomed in all ways possible:

Visually, we have COLOR! The costumes are gorgeous. The hair is gorgeous. The makeup is gorgeous. And not just for the upper classes. Working gals, your time has come!

Scriptually (is that a word?), we have a storyline that finally goes deeper than Harry’s insatiable libido. This season’s show actually offers a plotline worthy of the DVR space it’s taking up. World War I is approaching, ethnic tensions are mounting (watch out, Victor), women are on the career fast track, and a true villain has emerged in the form of Lord Loxley.

I am loving all the changes that five years has brought to our favorite department store. In business terms, let me give you the growth chart:

Upward Trend

Agnes Towler: Now head of display, she’s fresh off her Parisian training and being put to the test with a storewide empire theme. Love interest, Henri, is back. Time will tell if the writers can put some sizzle into it this go-round.

George Towler: This scarecrow finally got his brain! Now manager of “Internal Distribution” (moving boxes around the store), he’s the new boss of the loading dock. Gone is the confused patsy filling blue trucks with stolen merchandise.  It's five years later and he’s assertive, alert, and running a tight ship. Wow.

Miss Mardle: Josie's now a woman of "independent means" thanks to the generosity of her dead brother. I love how she showed off her new wealth to Roger in the guise of “I’d like your advice on how to handle becoming an instant millionaire.” Awesome!  No one will ever forget what a dirt bag Roger was to her in Season One. IN YOUR FACE, GROVE! Josie’s only showing up to work because she wants to, not because she has to. Enjoy going home to Fertile Myrtle, Roger. Ha!

You go, girl!
Kitty Hawkins: Now head of cosmetics, this girl can sell snow to an Eskimo. She’s street smart and able to handle the likes of the lecherous Frank Edwards. However, any liking I had of her in Episode 1 disappeared in Episode 2 with her nasty remarks to Victor regarding his Italian heritage. She's a slippery one. We'll see how she develops this season.

Victor Calliano: Speaking of… Victor is now head of the Palm Court. He still has a thing for Agnes, but this storyline is so Ross/Rachel, I find it hard to stay awake. I hope the writers ditch this direction soon.

Rose Selfridge: I don’t know what to think of Rose this season. She’s conventional one minute, playing the supportive wife for public appearance sake. Yet, she's controversial the next in her friendship with soft porn writer and nightclub owner, Delphine Day. She’s trying to be a good mother to Gordon (anyone else cringe at the sex talk she tried to give him at the breakfast table?), but she left her young daughters back in America under the care of Harry’s aging mother.  Historically, we know Rose is going to die in five years from the Spanish Flu, so the writers don't have much time to make her character interesting. She’s a gold mine of possibility. Get with it!

Falling Off A Cliff

Roger Grove: You got yours mister! I so love it that he’s overwhelmed by the very wife and children he dumped Josie for. He’s tired, sloppy, and about to lose his job. Thanks to the wonderful Mr. Crabb (and he IS wonderful! I want him for my grandpa…), Roger is slowly pulling himself together.

Frank Edwards: WORM. ‘Nuf said.

Henri LeClaire: We know he hit the skids in New York with this girlfriend and his career. We know he’s now living in a London ghetto unemployed. He did clean up nicely in Episode 2, and he was helpful and charming to Agnes, so for now we’ll withhold judgment.

Walking the Fence

Lady Mae: Such a great storyline in the evil, conniving husband returning to London to make everyone's life miserable. Who better suited to squash this guy than Lady Mae? Sadly, however, she's lost much of the energy and spark she had in Season One. This may be due to the fact that she is, in real life, pregnant with her first child. I only just found this out. I went back and rewatched the video, and you can see the signs of exhaustion. I’ll cut Lady Mae some slack this season, but let's hope some of her wicked resourcefulness emerges as she fights for her lifestyle and her title.

Harry: Eh….  Herein is the most underutilized talent on this show. Ari Gold and Harry Selfridge aren’t so unalike, so why can’t the writers give Jeremy Piven something he can sink his teeth into? He is the title character after all. Perplexing.

Welcome back, Mr. Selfridge! A+ for improvement!

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