Poldark, review: A fracas to rival Jeremy Clarkson's is brewing as Demelza and Ross unite

Spoiler alert: Sex, birth, death, marriage - can the maelstrom of storylines keep our interest?

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The Independent Culture

Right, were you paying attention? Tonight in 18th Century Cornwall, where every camera shot is seemingly designed by a jigsaw manufacturer, we had two births, a wedding, a near fatal heart attack, some good old-fashioned sex, a lovely spell of semi-naked threshing, a newly opened mine, a court case, simmering class war and more shots of sun-dappled corn fields than a breakfast cereal conference at the NEC. You can say what you like about the revamped Poldark – you get your money’s worth.

The main talking points among this maelstrom of storylines were the consummation of the smouldering passions between the impossibly swarthy Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) and his serving wench Demelza Carne (Eleanor Tomlinson), the arrest of young Jim Carter (Alexander Arnold) for poaching, and the semi-naked threshing.

Tongues were wagging from Tintagel to Mousehole as word got round that Poldark was, ahem, fraternising with the workers. 'One does feel that the gentry and the vulgars should keep themselves to themselves, otherwise it gets so confusing' sighed Mrs Chynoweth (Sally Dexter). Poldark’s card was marked.

Our hero’s stirring loins could not be quelled however and the lingering looks and stolen glances became a full on snogfest as Demelza served him more than his dinner. However, it’s not just Demelza that’s feeling the benefits of Poldark’s willingness to mix it with the labouring classes. The local men were cock-a-hoop at having a shiny new mine to work in, while the money grubbing Warleggans were predictably sneering at what they obviously look upon as a left-wing social enterprise. A fracas is brewing.

Of mines and men was the subject preoccupying damp sandwich Francis Poldark (Kyle Soller) as he celebrated the christening of his firstborn by watching his lumpen father Charles (the late Warren Clarke) have a heart attack. However, instead of stepping up to the plate and emulating his distractingly handsome cousin, Francis favoured the company he could find at the inn over taking charge of the family mine. He’s a man who’s happy to enjoy the trappings of his name yet has never sweated for it. Poldark, of course, is the exact opposite. ‘They disgust me, my own class’ he told Demelza, while looking handsome.

Poldark is now firmly at war with his own kind, especially as he’s only gone and married Demelza. This friction was shown explicitly in the courtroom at Truro as our dashing leading man argued for leniency in the case of Jim Carter. The previous poacher on the stand had got seven years in Australia (hey! Might he turn up in Banished?) and Poldark wasn’t afraid to call the law an ass. Watching Poldark face down the flinty old judge, Reverend Halse, was particularly satisfying as sitting underneath the white wig was none other than Robin Ellis, 1975’s original Poldark. Young Poldark and Old Poldark snarled, snapped and brooded impressively at each other. Two Poldarks for your pound, how’s that for your Sunday night?

 

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