To my horror, on Twitter, I have discovered via the actor Samuel West’s tweets, that they are filming, a third season of “Mr. Selfridge”. I say to my horror, because while I truly enjoyed the first season, and the history behind it, I have utterly and completely hated season two.
The first season, was built on facts. If one reads the book published on Harry Gordon Selfridge and the shop, which came out around the time of the first series, one realizes that the people who wrote the script, kept pretty close to the truth. Sure, they made several people in to one person, to make the series more easy on the eye and it made it simpler to film I am sure. And sure, while season one was supposed to take place during basically just one year of Mr. Selfridge’s life, they actually crammed in closer to ten years in that one year. I am not over exaggerating when I say, that after you finished watching series one, you had seen what needed to be seen. There was nothing more interesting to show. Unless you showed Rose dying, his mother dying, his children making improper marriages and him squandering off his fortune on money grabbing tarts. Not something one really has to watch is it? Doesn’t quite make for nice Saturday entertainment. Not the sort I care to watch, at least .
I was surprised indeed when there was a second season. Out of curiosity, I did sit down to watch it and boy have I suffered. My mother had become addicted to American soap operas when I moved back to Sweden, in 1992. I was horrified at the garbage she sat and watched. And now I have been sitting watching an equally nauseating TV-series for TEN unbearable weeks. After each episode, I had to check again which episode I had just watched. Oh no, only part 6! Four horrible ones left!!! Episode, finally, it is over! How did I survive the torment? Never again!
So, just like with terrible Jane Austen sequels, where only the characters carry the same names as she created so long ago, in her wonderful stories, but the names being the only similarity to her writings and their personalities and time period, not matching up what ever, so this series has nothing to do with the real Gordon Selfridge’s life nor the shop’s. WWI is the overall theme during season two, or should I say the first months of the war. Harry’s wife has come back to him but only in name. She wants nothing of him and is suddenly feminist numero uno. Her new best friend, Delphine Day, is a nightclub owner, who soon sees the opportunity of getting money for her doomed nightclub, if she can seduce Harry. So you get to see her pathetic attempts of catching Harry and of course ruining her friendship, that did not go that deep, with Rose. Rose soon falls for Harry’s charm and all is well in the bedroom again, till they suddenly introduce her illness in episode 9. I guess they did not understand that the Spanish flu killed in days or hours, not months! So for TV they have given her some other disease.
While Harry’s mother and his daughters do not enter the scene until the very end of episode ten, his son flirts with a young girl, which I guess is the one they intend to marry him off to, in season three?? Four? Five? A shop girl who he was not allowed to marry, so he kept the whole thing secret in real life. Hiding her in the suburbs while he lived an alternative life in the city, the sort of life his father encouraged.
3-4 years have gone by since season one ended and it certainly has brought on changes in the personnel. Mr. Grove got the young, fertile wife he wanted and she sure has bred. Three daughters in three years and while men had nothing to do with the upbringing of children in 1914, Mr. Grove gets to work late and his office looks like a zeppelin has dropped a bomb on it, and what is his excuse? Having so many children. Boo Hoo, who feels sorry for him? Not me! Nor wonderful Josie Mardle for sure. Noone, asked him to marry the pretty little bimbo! And a man who suggests that his mistress stays his mistress, right after marrying the young fertile Doris, deserves a hell at home without sleep, financial difficulties and a whining wife. At the end of the season, he has added to the brood, with a son, like it will give him more sleep?!
I am not even going to mention Samuel West’s part, the journalist Frank Edwards, and Miss Kitty Hawkins. They are not even believable as characters. Why would a journalist, go for a shop girl selling perfume? To get in to her knickers of course! Especially after she dances a scandalous tango, at Delphine Day’s nightclub, showing red stockings up to her waist! Strange that a person who has never danced the dance before, could pull it off in front of an audience of the entire staff of Selfridges. Is it any wonder that Frank Edwards takes her for loose after that? The rest of the series, she outrageously flirts with him, in a 21st Century way and not one that would have been accepted in 1914, unless you were a lady of the night. You just want to gag and wish public TV had commercial breaks.
My first favourite, till she jumped in to bed with Henri Leclair in season one, Agnes Towler, is just one wet noodle in season two. Victor Colleano, who started at Selfridges at the same time as her, and was of the same social standing as her and in more ways than one, a perfect match, is now suddenly the heir to a restaurant. So why did he go to bed with Lady Loxley, in order to have her finance a restaurant for him, in season one? Guess the writers thought we would have forgot? Victor now is romancing his Italian cousin, which suddenly makes Agnes interested in him. She has been gone to Paris all these years, and now when she is back, and Henri in the US, with his French mistress, she suddenly starts flirting with Victor. He sends his cousin back to Italy and gets engaged to Agnes. And then Henri comes back, and Agnes is no longer interested in Victor, surprise, surprise. She would rather have a cheating Frenchman for a companion, because a man like Henri will never marry of course, (it being too bourgeois,) than a nice man who loves her and would be faithful to her. Go figure. Some are just drawn to the bad! Wonder why I call this a soap opera?
I guess I no longer can avoid bringing up Lady May Loxley? She was my favourite in season one because this was a lady with spunk in a man dominated world, where the women were made out of porcelain and cheated on. She had many people’s fates in her hands. She could make them go out of fashion, or she could make them into a success. Rich, beautiful, ruthless, connected, but also with a good sense of right and wrong. She has gone through a total personality change in season two. She is a scared, submissive, coward of a wife, to Lord Loxley, who suddenly has appeared on the scene to become a war profiteer. Seeing him, it does not make sense that she would EVER have dared to cheat on him or buy a single thing for herself. He hits her, he rapes her, he is generally unpleasant to everyone, and while she in the end of the season runs out on him, it still doesn’t make up for her more than wet noodle performance during the entire season. She lets Rose know what a person Delphine Day is and tells Harry what Delphine’s plans for him are, but that is the only part of the old Lady Loxley we get to see. Big disappointment in other words.
The only likeable character in season two, is miss Josie Mardle, who played such an awful lady in season one. Long term mistress of Mr. Grove, who passed up the chance of having children, staying faithful to him, because he promised marriage after his crippled wife had passed on. But when she finally died, he just threw miss Mardle over and married young Doris out of the blue. Miss Mardle really grows on you, in season two. She is the only nice thing really about the series. She inherits a fortune from a brother who unknownst to her, had made a fortune. Not only does she inherit a beautiful house in London, but enough money that she never has to work another day. But she takes Agnes in as a lodger. And then she takes in a Belgian war refugee. He is a violin player, so she buys him a violin. And most surprisingly of all, she continues working at Selfridges. She is happy, rosy cheeks and she looks ten if not fifteen years younger in season two. Mr. Groves is unhappier than unhappy and can not stand to see her so happy, which makes it the more delightful. And when she starts a relationship with her refugee, then Mr. Groves shows that he has realized that he made a serious mistake when marrying Doris. Yes, he has become a father, but he is poor, growing old before his time, tired and married to a woman he doesn’t really love. Serves him right.
For those of you who did not catch season two of the series: You did not miss anything. It is wasting ten hours of your precious life, to watch it!
For those of you who contemplate buying it on DVD, because you missed it on TV: Don’t waste your money on a DVD you don’t want to keep! You will feel utterly disappointed and angry for having wasted your money on such trash! Because it was utter trash and it is sickening to know that ITV is planning on plaguing us with a third season. It should not have been allowed!