Mr. Selfridge Is Even Better Than Before In Its Second Season

Courtesy: PBS/ITV Studios

Courtesy: PBS/ITV Studios

PBS’ British import Mr. Selfridge came as quite the surprise hit in its first season. There were those that expressed some uncertainty about the show, arguing that it was just PBS and it capitalizing on the success of Downton Abbey. The reality is that Mr. Selfridge is absolutely nothing like that program. As a matter of fact, Mr. Selfridge showed throughout its first season that it actually surpasses Downton Abbey. That’s thanks to a combination of solid writing and acting along with equally impressive production values in front of and behind the cameras. Season Two has already wrapped overseas and work on Season Three is underway. In the meantime, PBS will release Season Two of Mr. Selfridge on DVD and Blu-ray April 29th. It goes without saying that the second season of Mr. Selfridge continues that high standard established in the series’ first season. The show’s writers step things up in Season Two, incorporating more drama and even a certain amount of comedy that audiences are certain to appreciate. The acting on the part of the show’s cast is just as solid as ever, too. This includes the new additions to the cast this season. And the period attire and settings are right on par with the changed times, too. Each factor alone is important to the success of this season of Mr. Selfridge. Together though, they make the series’ second season even more impressive than the first.

The writing behind the second season of Mr. Selfridge is the most important factor in this season’s success. The series’ first season was centered primarily on establishing the series’ cast and their relationships. This season offers far more in terms of story lines. Selfridge’s and Mr. Selfridge himself have been caught up in World War I. The result is scandal that takes viewers right up to the season’s finale. The result of the scandal is a much more focused figure in Henry. Henry’s relationship with his wife Rose seems to be better. In fact, she even takes a more active role in the operations of Selfridge’s. That increased role leads to some wonderfully entertaining moments that are certain to have audiences laughing. Some of those moments are linked to the ongoing battle of the sexes. They are both still quite relevant to viewers today, just in a different way. Things in the store have changed a bit, too. One romance blooms while another takes a dramatic turn. Some employees leave while another returns. The store has a new weasel by the name of Mr. Thackery (Cal Macaninch). He looks and acts the part, too. His was an excellent addition as his almost childish behavior will lead to just as much laughter as anger. That’s because everyone knows someone or has known someone in their daily lives just like Mr. Thackery. Lord Loxley (Aidan McArdle) creates his own havoc for Harry along the way, too. And a surprise health diagnosis for Rose makes things even more interesting. These are just some of the many storylines that take place in Season Two. There are far more that viewers will enjoy when they purchase Season Two for themselves. With all of this going on, one would think it would be easy for the writing to get caught up in itself and get muddied. But somehow, the series’ writers managed to balance everything and even make each storyline play into the other to create one whole. That balance creates a whole that will keep audiences watching with as much fervor as any drama out there today British or American.

Those charged with crafting the scripts for each episode of Mr. Selfridge’s second season handled their duties quite well. Their ability to interweave this season’s various storylines with so much ease is the primary reason that this season is even better than the show’s first. Just as important as the series’ writing is the acting on the part of the cast. This is a direct link to the writing. The cast from the series’ first season is back. And only minimal additions have been made to the show’s cast lineup. Whether new or more experienced, the show’s entire cast does an outstanding job of interpreting each script. The cast together manages to pull in audiences and make them feel like they are actually part of the story unlike certain other dramas wherein audiences know they are watching a story unfold. And because Harry has to take a business trip at one point in the season, it allows the rest of the cast to shine. They do that and more. The cast doesn’t present that stereotypical image that so many people have of characters in British dramas. Rather, they actually present an image of being everyday people just trying to make it through another day. So kudos are in high order for the cast this season. Having examined the writing and acting undertaken for the second season of Mr. Selfridge, the only remaining logical point to examine in this season is the collective attire and settings.

The attire and settings are right on par with the times in Season Two. Season Two takes place at the start of World War I. The women’s attire especially shows the coordination with the times. There are some flappers starting to show up among some women. Even the British military uniform matches the times. And there is even a discussion between certain characters regarding the boots used by the British troops. Audiences see one of those boots, rather than hear about them. It’s nice to see the painstaking efforts of those behind the scenes to make even such minutia work in conjunction with the changing times in the story. It’s one more element that makes this season so enjoyable. On the side of the settings, audiences will appreciate how the writers incorporated Selfridge’s and the war into each other. Audiences see the British union jack throughout the store as Britain enters the war. And while audiences never really see any of it, the writers include the removal of all German goods from the store shelves. Indirectly speaking, this is part of the setting, too. It’s just an indirect part of the setting. But it still counts. And because of that, it makes this aspect of Season Two even richer.

Whether one admires mostly the settings and attire, the acting, the writing, or all three together, every bit of what went into the second season of Mr. Selfridge made this season work. It all came together to make this season even better than the first. Even more so, it all went a long way toward making Mr. Selfridge even better than Downtown Abbey. And that is saying something. Anyone that has seen the series’ first season but not yet this season will agree that this season is an important turning point for this series and a must see for anyone wanting to see how a drama is done right. It will be available in stores and online on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, April 29th. It can be ordered direct via the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=32224976&cp=3529703.20384186&ab=Aspot_Selfridge2&parentPage=family.

More information on Mr. Selfridge is available online at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mr-Selfridge/303888089680606. To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Anchor Bay’s In Fear Is One Of 2014′s Top Indie Flicks

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Independent movie studio Anchor Bay has crafted some of the industry’s most surprising and underrated movies since the start of the twenty-first century. Most recently, Anchor Bay was behind the moving human drama that is Unfinished Song and the more lighthearted romantic comedy Shanghai Calling. It was also behind the release of the equally under appreciated 6 Souls and Dark Skies. Now in 2014, Anchor Bay has released yet another impressive yet under appreciated movie to its ever growing stable in the form of In Fear. While it is an indie flick, In Fear proves to be yet another piece from Anchor Bay that holds its own against any of the major horror flicks and thriller features out there today. The primary reason for that is the movie’s writing. This includes its plot. Another reason for its success is the acting on the part of Iain De Caestecker (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures) and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey). And last but not least, In Fear works because of its cinematography and associated editing. All three of these factors together prove In Fear a work that will leave any open minded horror and thriller fan in happiness.

In Fear is not a major, big budget horror or thriller flick, obviously. What it is though, is a movie that any open-minded fan of both genres will enjoy. The main reason for this is the movie’s writing. The general plot starts out as one that has been done so many times before. Here, audiences see a young couple off on what is supposed to be a romantic weekend at a secluded hotel. But obviously, things eventually start to turn to the negative side of the needle for lack of better wording. This is where writer/director Jeremy Lovering takes the *ahem* high road (bad pun fully intended). It would have been so easy for Lovering to simply allow In Fear to descend to the dumbed down, overly violent level of so many major horror and thriller flicks from here. Instead, he kept the overt violence to a minimum by comparison. Where far too many major horror and thriller flicks fill their run times with unnecessary violence, blood and gore, Lovering has virtually eliminated those elements, using only what was absolutely necessary to help maintain the story’s grip on viewers. And the standard exploitative sexual content thrown in to those major motion pictures is totally nonexistent here. For that reason alone, Lovering deserves a lot of credit.

The minimized use of blood, gore and general violence and the complete lack of exploitive sexual content is just one part of what makes this movie’s writing work so well. Lovering keeps viewers wondering even after Tom and Lucy let Max into their car. Audiences have to admit that had they been in Tom and Lucy’s position, they too would be uncertain as to whether or not Max was good or bad. So any viewer that might like to claim the movie was predictable is proven wrong through this avenue alone. That unpredictability is heightened through the use of certain elements that also lead to some “a-ha” moments by the story’s end, too. Those “a-ha” moments illustrate even more the depth of Lovering’s writing in his script and in turn its enjoyment.

Jeremy Lovering’s script for In Fear is the cornerstone of the movie’s success. The acting on the part of Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, and Allen Leech serves to strengthen the movie even more. The trio is entirely believable in its acting. Caestecker and Englert expertly exhibit the growing tension and fear felt by any normal person lost in unknown territory. Given, the odds of being lost and hunted by an unseen predator of sorts are slim to nil in reality. But the fear caused simply by being lost in unknown territory is very real as is the general fear of the unknown. And Caestecker and Englert have made that fear all the more real through their acting. Any viewer will be able to relate to them as they watch the pair try to reach the Kilairney Hotel thanks to the seriousness with which the pair took its roles. Together with the script, this aspect of In Fear makes the movie all the more gripping and enjoyable for viewers.

The acting and writing behind In Fear both are pivotal to the success of the movie. There is still one more aspect of the movie that adds to its enjoyment. That factor is the movie’s collective cinematography and editing. Some of the best shots of the entire movie come as Lucy is looking out of the car, waiting for she and Tom to reach the hotel. Audiences see trees hanging ominously overhead as the sky slowly darkens. These are such subtle shots. But they are so powerful because they are so powerful. It adds to the feeling of tension and being trapped in an enclosed environment for extended periods of time. The way that editor Jonathan Amos (A.C.E.) transitioned the two shots adds so much by doing so little. Those behind the cameras are just as worthy of applause for the solid yet short shots of the figure that seems to be hunting Tom and Lucy. Audiences get just enough of a glimpse to know that there is something outside that car that doesn’t want the pair around. And the shots are just plentiful enough to add to the movie’s fear factor, too. Again, it shows the expert work of Amos and his co-workers behind the cameras. There are far more examples of how the cinematography and editing make In Fear a horror/thriller worth seeing. Audiences will find even more examples when they purchase or rent the movie for themselves on DVD and Blu-ray.

Whether for the cinematography, the editing, the acting or for the general writing, any open-minded fan of the thriller and horror genres will find plenty of reasons to check out this latest underrated and under appreciated release from Anchor Bay Entertainment. The movie is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from Anchor Bay Entertainment’s website at http://www.anchorbayent.com/detail.aspx?projectID=2545b3bd-9d4b-e311-bba7-d4ae527c3b65. More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online at http://www.anchorbayent.com, http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay, and http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Mr. Selfridge Season Two Coming To Blu-ray, DVD This Spring

Courtesy: PBS/ITV Studios

Courtesy: PBS/ITV Studios

ITV Studios’ hugely popular series Mr. Selfridge just wrapped its second season across the pond. And it just started here on Masterpiece yesterday. In coordination of the U.S. debut of Season 2, ITV Studios and Masterpiece have partnered to release Season Two on Blu-ray and DVD this Spring.

Mr. Selfridge Season Two will be released to the masses on Blu-ray and DVD April 29th. The series, starring Jeremy Piven (Entourage, PCU) follows the famed businessman that changed the face of business in London in the early twentieth century and his business, Selfridge & Co. Season Two of Mr. Selfridge runs a total of 7.5 hours over three discs and features the original U.K. edition of Season Two. Frances O’Conner (Madame Bovary) returns for Season Two in the role of Harry Selfridge’s wife Rose as does Aisling Loftus (Page Eight) as Agnes Towler. Also back for Season Two are: Amanda Abbington (Sherlock Season 3) as Miss Mardle, and Ron Cook (Little Dorrit) as Mr. Crabb.
There is sure to be more drama for Harry Selfridge in Season Two as Katherine Kelly (Coronation Street) returns once again as Lady Mae. Gregory Fitoussi (World War Z) is back, too as Henri LeClair. Samuel West (Any Human Heart) reprises his role as enterprising journalist Frank Edwards. Selfrdige’s personnel director Mr. Grove is once more played by Tom Goodman-Hill (Downton Abbey). And Trystan Gravelle (Anonymous) also returns again as the dashing manager of Selfridge’s Palm Court Restaurant, Victor Colleano.

Audiences will see plenty of familiar faces in Season Two of Mr. Selfridge. They will also see some new faces. Polly Walker (Miss Marple) joins the cast of Mr. Selfridge as Delphine Day, author of numerous steamy novels and proprietress of a new nightclub. Also joining the cast for the first time this season are Cal Macaninch (Downton Abbey) and Aiden McArdle (Jane Eyre) as new head of fashion at Selfridge & Co. Mr. Thackeray, and Lord Loxley, Lady Mae’s estranged husband.

Season Two of Mr. Selfridge opens in the Spring of 1914. The store is now celebrating its fifth anniversary. There have been lots of changes at Selfridge & Co. in terms of staff. Harry’s wife Rose has even inexplicably returned to London after having left Harry to return to America at the end of Season One. There are sure to be even more changes as the shadow of World War I looms over London.

More information on Mr. Selfridge Season Two and the series in general is available online at https://www.facebook.com/masterpiecepbs, http://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs, and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece. It can be pre-ordered now via the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=32224996&cp=3529703.20384186&ab=Aspot_Selfridge_3.30.14&parentPage=family.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Downton Abbey Even “Richer” In Its Fourth Season

Courtesy: PBS/itv

Courtesy: PBS/itv

The fourth season of Downton Abbey is another success for the hit imported drama.  Yes, it is one more serial.  But unlike so many of the serials that dominate American television, this serial has actually stepped it up once again.  The show’s writers have made the series’ progression feel natural. Just as important in the success of Season Four is the work of those in the show’s costume department.  Just as the writing has helped the show progress, the costume design department has progressed with the writing.  The acting on the part of the cast continues to shine, too.  There is far more to consider than just the work of the actors, writers, and costume department in the success of Downton Abbey Season Four.  That would take far too much time and space than is available.  Needless to say, the three factors noted here collectively are more than enough reason to purchase or order this latest season of PBS’ hit imported drama.

Serials are all the rage on American television.  So it leaves one wondering why the “Big 4” have ignored Downton Abbey leaving it instead to PBS for four seasons now.  It’s the loss of the “Big 4” and the gain of PBS, proving once again the need and importance of public broadcasting.  Now in its fourth season, Downton Abbey is still just as enjoyable as it was in its first season.  The primary reason for that is the series’ writing.  The show’s writers have continued to make the show’s progression feel entirely natural now in its fourth season.  Put simply, the writers don’t make viewers feel like they absolutely must watch from week to week to keep up with everything going on even now in the show’s fourth season.  That’s what separates this drama from all of the serials that dominate American television.  Viewers can tune in and miss a week here or there and still be able to have a relatively good idea of what is going on.  By direct connection, those charged with keeping the series believable in terms of its look have helped the show‘s progression, too.

Audiences that have watched Downton Abbey since its very first season will recall the time and place in which the series began.  Those audiences will notice that those charged with maintaining the cast’s attire have gone to great lengths to keep the cast’s attire proper for the times.  From the women’s flapper attire to the men’s dresswear, it’s obvious that the costume department’s heads wanted to maintain viewers’ suspension of disbelief.  And considering just how few studio execs and moviemakers today care about maintaining the accuracy of their period pieces, it’s wonderful to see that at least someone cares.  It serves so well to help pull viewers into the series and make them feel like they are actually there and not just watching it on television.  It’s just one more part of why DA’s fans will appreciate this latest season.

The work of the costume department and the writers behind Downton Abbey work in tandem to make the series just as enjoyable in its fourth season as it was in its debut season.  As impressive as the writing and costuming are in Season Four, one would be remiss to ignore the acting on the part of the cast.  The cast has once again expertly interpreted the writers’ scripts.  Michelle Dockery instantly pulls at viewers’ heartstrings as the now widowed Lady Mary.  Lady Mary is now faced in Season Four, with raising a child alone as her husband has been killed.  And Maggie Smith’s return as Dowager Countess of Grantham is one of the season’s highest points.  She continues to prove why she is one of the leading actresses in the industry today.  Even the servants show their acting prowess.  From romance plot lines to a maid that has a serious attitude problem, they pull in viewers just as much as the rest of the cast that fills Highclere Castle.  Viewers will each find their favorite moments from the cast throughout Season Four when they order and purchase this box set for themselves.  Audiences will also see for themselves just why the costume department and the series’ staff of writers deserve their share of credit, too this season.  It can be ordered online direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=22850886&cp=2809871.19926776&ab=Aspot_20offMostLiked_FS35&parentPage=family.  Fans can follow Downton Abbey online at http://www.facebook.com/DowntonAbbey and http://itv.com/downtonabbey.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Anchor Bay To Release New Psychological Thriller

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Anchor Bay Entertainment will release the new indie-horror flick In Fear this Spring.  The movie, starring Iain de Caestecker (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures), and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey), it is the feature film debut for writer/director Jeremy Lovering.  In Fear has already made waves at international film festivals in nine countries including: Toronto After Dark (Canada), the Rosebud Entertainment Fantasy Festival (Germany), Fancine – Festival de Cine Fantastico (Spain), and the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (South Korea).

In Fear follow’s the plight of a young couple being tracked in their car by an unseen predator.  The couple is trapped in its car as it travels a number of country roads in an attempt to escape its seemingly invisible assailant.  The couple’s car is its only protection.  The story combines the fear of the dark and of the unknown.  It will be available March 11th on Blu-ray, DVD and Video on Demand.  The Blu-ray presentation will be available for SRP of $29.99.  The DVD will be available for SRP of $24.98.

More information on In Fear and other films from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online at http://www.anchorbayent.com and http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New Downton Abbey Set An Excellent Gift For Fans New And Old

Courtesy:  itv/PBS

Courtesy: itv/PBS

2014 is set to be a big year for Downton Abbey.  PBS’ British import has been nominated for a Golden Globe in the annual awards show.  The series’ fourth season is also set to premiere on PBS in just a matter of days.  The current date for its Season Four premiere is January 5th, 2014.  And Season Four is also currently scheduled to be released on DVD and Blu-ray January 28th, 2014.  So it goes without saying that the show’s fans have a lot to look forward to this Winter.  Before Season Four makes its U.S. premiere, the show’s fans can get caught up thanks to the new three-season gift set on Blu-ray and DVD.  This new set is a great gift for the most devoted of the show’s fans.  Not only does it include the series’ first three seasons together in their own entirety, but it also includes the companion DVD, The Secrets of Highclere Castle.  This is the central point of what this latest set offers audiences.  Those that might perhaps be new to Downton Abbey will appreciate in watching this box set the writing.  Most people don’t like the thought of watching a show about rich people.  But once said audiences allow themselves to get past that outer layer, they will be pulled in by the purely human drama that makes up the series’ plot.  The cast’s attire and the overall setting also play into the overall enjoyment of this series.  That together with the solid writing and the box’s bonus material makes this latest box set a wonderful addition to the library of any Downton Abbey fan.

Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey Season 1 2 & 3 is not the first of the Downton Abbey box sets released in 2013 by PBS and the BBC.  The show’s first two seasons have already been released in a special Blu-ray box set.  So what sets this latest box set apart from that set?  The first thing that audiences will notice is that the first three seasons are all included in this set.  Also included as an added bonus, is the companion documentary The Secrets of Highclere Castle.  This documentary had previously only been available as a stand-alone piece on DVD.  Now, it’s included in its proper place with this set for those that want the full show experience.  It’s not all that audiences get as a bonus, either.  There is also episode-specific commentary that adds even more to the overall experience.  It is all packaged in one relatively ergonomic set.  This is the case both with the DVD and Blu-ray box set.  And it’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg for this set, too.

The packaging and bonus features that comprise the Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey Season 1 2 & 3 box set are important parts of the set’s overall presentation.  One would be remiss though, to ignore the show’s writing and its effect on the series thus far.  Most audiences don’t seem too interested in watching a TV show about a rich family.  The last time that such show had an audience as devoted as this one was the original Dallas, starring the late Larry Hagman.  What sets this rich family apart from the stereotypical aristocratic family is that its members actually don’t feel above everyone else.  The show’s writers actually give the family members a certain heart despite the cultural divide between themselves and the servants that live and work in Highclere Castle.  The family actually does everything to not get rid of the servants even in somewhat difficult financial situations.  While it may not make the family more relatable to average viewers, it does make them more human and in turn, more worthy of praise.  It makes audiences want to find out what happens next within the confines of the story, which goes back to the overall writing.  It makes the stories all the (pardon the term) richer for viewers.  And in turn, it exhibits just why the show is such a favorite among audiences and critics alike.  It shows why this is the center of what makes this new set so worth checking out especially for those that might be new to the world of Downton Abbey.

The writing behind Downton Abbey is some of the purest writing for scripted television shows today.  By comparison, it outshines so much of the programming that pollutes American airwaves today.  In direct relation to the writing, audiences that are new to this hit drama will be impressed by the backdrops and attire used throughout the show’s first three seasons.  It’s obvious that the show’s heads wanted to be as accurate as possible to the series.  They wanted to be respectful both to the show’s history and its fans.  This is something else that audiences will learn about in the set’s bonus material.  It’s nice to see that just as in Mr. Selfridge painstaking efforts were undertaken to make the series as real as possible.  That’s something else that is rarely seen in most American television offerings today.  It makes the series stand out even more.  Along with its equally solid writing and bonus features, it becomes one more part of what is one 2013’s top box sets for adults.  It is available in stores and online now, and can be ordered direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=29630176&cp=&sr=1&kw=downton+abbey&pg=2&origkw=Downton+Abbey&parentPage=search&searchId=29650486.  More information on Downton Abbey is available online at http://www.facebook.com/DowntonAbbey and http://itv.com/downtonabbey.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ITV Import Another Impressive Addition To PBS’ Programming Lineup

Courtesy:  PBS/itv Studios

Courtesy: PBS/itv Studios

It’s been said time and again that people love a good story.  People also like drama.  So if this is the case, then why is it that so few people are watching PBS?  The network’s recent import of itv Studios’ Mr. Selfridge offers viewers both a good story and more than its share of drama.  The ten-part mini-series is expertly led by veteran actor Jeremy Piven (Entourage, PCU).  His performance in the role of the famed retail magnate on which the mini-series is based is his finest yet.  The same can be said of co-stars Frances O’Connor (A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Madame Bovary), Aisling Loftus (Page Eight), Zoe Tapper (Zen), Katherine Kelly (Coronation Street), Gregory Fitoussi (Spiral), and Trystan Gravelle (Anonymous).  Together with Piven (and the show’s writers), the ensemble crafted a work that fully immerses viewers both male and female into its world and keeps them engaged through each episode.  Of course, one would be remiss to omit any mention of the show’s production values in its success, too.  As viewers will note in the bonus “making of” featurette, painstaking work went into creating a historically accurate world.  The sets and costumes took massive amounts of time to get just right and accurate.  This understanding makes the final product that much more entertaining for those viewers whose minds are open enough.  By the time it’s all said and done, audiences will see that while it is a British import, much as with Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge shows even more the value and importance of PBS.

The choice of bringing in Jeremy Piven to lead the cast for this itv mini-series was the first positive choice in bringing to life Harry Gordon Selfridge’s story.  His portrayal of Selfridge was completely believable.  He presents a man that despite being a strong and self confident businessman on the surface was also emotionally fragile and complex beneath the surface.  He showed that while Selfridge was this larger than life character, he was just as human as anyone else.  It makes him deeply relatable to viewers.  That ability of viewers to relate to Selfridge is the starting point of the show’s success.   Viewers will see this for themselves when they watch the program for themselves.  On a side note, perhaps most intriguing of all about Piven being picked was why he was chosen.  It was noted in the included bonus features that an American actor was specifically wanted to portray Selfridge.  The woman that is interviewed tells viewers in her interview that while there were plenty of British actors that could easily handle an American accent, an American actor was wanted over a British actor for his role.  This is important considering how many British actors have played American roles recently.  Two prime examples would be Christian Bale and Henry Cavill as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Clark Kent/Superman respectively.  There are others, but these are the first two that come to mind.  Keeping this choice in mind, it makes Piven, the show and its heads worthy of even more respect. 

The acting on the part of Jeremy Piven and his co-stars is one of the prime reasons for the success of Mr. Selfridge.  Their ability to interpret the writing will keep viewers fully engaged from the series’ opening minutes to its bittersweet end.  Staying on that note, the writing behind Mr. Selfridge is another reason for the show’s success.  So much goes on throughout the course of the ten episodes that make up this standout British import.  Despite the number of storylines that interweave throughout the primary story, the show’s writers don’t allow the story as a whole to get bogged down even once.  Rather, the script moves fluidly and at a fast pace.  It isn’t too fast to lose viewers, either.  The different storylines incorporated into the bigger picture make the whole thing even more successful in that they will entertain both men and women.  Men will appreciate watching Selfridge’s personal journey from upstart businessman to one of London’s biggest names to an emotionally broken man.  They will enjoy seeing him in his highest of highs and lowest of lows.  Women will enjoy the series’ more soap opera style elements.  There is infighting between the women working the displays.  The infighting is the result of power struggles and to a far greater degree, romantic interests.  Because the storylines are able to keep from bogging down the mini-series as a whole, it allows viewers in general to focus on one more factor that makes Mr. Selfridge even more believable.  That factor is the series’ production values.

Viewers will see the painstaking efforts taken to make every episode believable in the set’s bonus features.  The bonus features included in the set tell a little about a lot.  This isn’t a bad thing.  Those that are interested in set construction and related topics will enjoy the discussions on how a carpet warehouse was turned into the first Selfridge & Co. store.  It’s incredible to think that such an open space could be turned into such a stunning set.  And anyone that has any interest in fashion will appreciate the discussion on making sure that the costumes worn by both the men and women were precise for the period.  Viewers will especially appreciate the discussion on the use of the corsets for women’s attire.  One of the female cast members even states that she liked using the corset and wearing clothes from the period of the story.  Not many women would likely so openly admit this.  But she did.  It’s one more entertaining and enjoyable aspect of the set that proves programming on PBS is just as valuable as any mainstream American dramas.  It is available now and can be ordered from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=19273126&cp=&sr=1&kw=selfridge&origkw=Selfridge&parentPage=search.  And for all of the latest update on PBS’ Masterpiece series, fans can go online to http://www.facebook.com/masterpiecepbs and “Like” it. 

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