The New Poldark

The original Poldark and the new Poldark

The original Poldark and the new Poldark

Everyone loves the new Poldark.

Me?  Not so much.  Tonight the series premiered in the U.S.

Initially I was distracted by the fashion model-beauty of the actors.

Poldark (Aidan Turner) and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson):  Too beautiful?

Poldark (Aidan Turner) and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson): Too beautiful?

Their looks are so angular.

It is what we call at our house the Dancing with the Stars effect.  Actors must work out and be buff.  We expect Poldark (Aidan Turner) to rip off his shirt any minute.  And, indeed, Turner does so in the second episode.  (The British press already “covered” this event.)

It is not that I object to looking at beautiful people, but the softer, more natural looks  of the 1970s are easier on the eye.  Robin Ellis (the original Poldark) was dashing, but looked real:  his skin had a few acne scars, as well as Poldark’s war scar.  We remember Angharad Rees (Demelza) for her charm rather than her beauty.  Only Elizabeth (Jill Townsend, an actress I very much admire) had that neurotic, angular look.   In other words, we all could have been Ross or Demelza when we were young.

Ross Poldark (Robin Ellis) and Demelza (Angharad Reese):  A softer look

Ross Poldark (Robin Ellis) and Demelza (Angharad Reese): Less glamorous.

To get ready for the new TV series, I reread Winston Graham’s Ross Poldark, the first in his 12-book series.  Very well-written, very well-plotted.  Ross returns from the Revolutionary War (fighting on the losing British side) to troubles at his home in Cornwall.  His father is dead, his girlfriend Elizabeth is engaged to his cousin Francis, his house is in a shambles, and he has no money.  He is a radical, a champion of the miners, and works hard for justice.  In one of the most memorable scenes, he rescues a boy (actually Demelza dressed in boys’ clothes)  at the market,  where she is struggling to untie her dog’s tail from a cat’s, which a group of coarse boys has done.  He discovers she is hungry and has been beaten by her father. Then he hires her as a maid.  Years later, he marries her.

ross poldark graham 51NbqPxH4XL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_In the mid-70s, I galloped through the first six Poldark books, because I was so hooked on the TV series.  One could buy the paperbacks at Kresge’s.  The novels are very good:  top-of-the-line pop fiction.  Six more books were published after my Poldark madness.

There are many plot changes in the new TV series:  In Episode One, Elizabeth chases after Ross in almost every scene, though in the book she is initially contented with Francis. (It has, after all, been three years since their boy-and-girl romance.)  I was especially surprised when she showed up at the market and witnessed Ross’s saving Demelza.  Not in the books!

The second half hour tonight was better than the first, and I would have enjoyed the whole hour if I were still a young thing. But is it as good as the original series?  I cannot say.  I watched the original on DVD about 10 years ago, and loved it.  The original Poldark series was 29 episodes, and this one is eight episodes. Perhaps they’ll make a sequel.

I am not a big fan of costume dramas anymore, though the BBC introduced me to so many great books when I was young.  I

Well, I’ll tune in next week, and perhaps I’ll enjoy the second episode more than the first.  I have now adjusted to the new actors.

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13 thoughts on “The New Poldark

  1. I know nothing about *any* Poldarks, I’m afraid – but I do know that I hate the glossy, perfect-looking modern adaptations filled with people who look like they’re models and not real people. It makes the story utterly unbelievable for me and I won’t watch them…

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    • They look like models for a J. Crew catalogue. Aidan Turner is a good actor, so I must adjust. But I don’t expect so much glamour from the BBC. (The Poldark books are very good.)

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  2. I am a fan of the earlier series as well and din’t warm to this version. Robin Ellis was acting regularly at Stratford at the time that his Poldark was on the television and he was every bit as attractive in real life as he was on the screen.

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    • Oh, lucky to see Robin Ellis! He does seem Shakespearean. did see him in a Henry James adaptation (maybe by Rurh Prawer Jhabvala?). I liked the old series, but things were much slower-paced then. This has much quicker scenes. For a new generation obviously!

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      • Yes, that’s so true. I felt the same way about the two adaptations of ‘Bleak House’. I loved the earlier one when it was first broadcast but when compared with the more recent version it really seemed to drag.

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  3. I have been having Internet access issues, so am late to the party here. Because of EllenandJim’s comments and because I knew the series was coming, I have started reading Poldarks and have now finished the first 4. I find the first TV episode disappointing. Elizabeth is not as I imagined her either. In the book she claims to love Francis and I believe she does — at that time. No approaches to Ross. It makes a difference psychologically.

    I will stay with the series to see how they do and then watch the one from the 1970s.

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    • Yes, I agree with you! I wondered what was going on with Elizabeth and why on earth they made her so fixated on Ross. It makes it more cliched. Well, I’m tuning it to Episode 2, and hope I’ll like it. My library has thrown out its old video of the first Poldark: can you believe it? Oh, dear….

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      • Fortunately my player can handle both DVDs and tapes. Since no one wants tapes any more I bought the old series very inexpensively on eBay. I don’t want to mix two series, so I have to wait for the end of the TV episodes before I play the old one.

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