Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mr. Selfridge: Season 2: Original UK Edition: 3-Disc Set Review

The longest running primetime drama running on American television is none other than Masterpiece airing on PBS. There was a time when the best of British television that broadcast in the United States aired only on PBS and without adverts. Comedies like Monty Python's Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers, Upstairs Downstairs, and The Good Life were joined with British science fiction that included Doctor Who, Tripods and much more. Then there were the British dramas that aired on Masterpiece, which at the time was known as Masterpiece Theater. Among the too many to count or list here dramas that defined must see drama on PBS from across the pond was I'Claudius, The Pallisers, Tom Brown School Days, and lest we forget the incredible Royal Shakespeare Company presentation of all of William Shakespeare's plays. Much of the shows that aired on PBS back in the day are now only broadcast, if ever, on cable networks, including BBC America. Yet Masterpiece has retained it's home on PBS as a part of the excellent quality programming PBS is known for and thankfully still with no commercial interruption. Now Masterpiece is the home of hit series like Downton Abbey and more recently Mr. Selfridge.

Just as many British Stars have come to become well known and admired American Movie and TV Stars following their introduction on PBS through imported British programming, the trend has reversed with American Movie and TV Stars making guest and recurring appearances on shows like Downton Abbey and in some cases they are not only the leading Star on a Masterpiece drama, they also produce it. Such is the case for Jeremy Piven, who is best known for his role in the HBO original series Entourage. Piven plays the title role on Mr. Selfridge, which debuted last year on PBS and became another Masterpiece hit. 

Five years have passed since the first season concluded. Europe is on the brink of war. Harry Selfridge, having succeeded in launching his department store has now set his sights on rebuilding his family life by desperately trying to win back the love of his wife Rose in the face of a friendship with Delphine Day, manager of a fashionable London nightclub. On the sales floor tensions run high when Agnes returns from Paris with a unabashed attitude and the return of her American ally, Henry Leclare.

The complete original UK Edition of Mr. Selfridge: Season 2 is presented across three Blu-ray Discs from PBS Distribution. The episodes are presented in spot on (1.78:1) widescreen 1080i high definition with a clear English Stereo Soundtrack and English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired encoded as options. A behind the scenes look at season two as well as a collection of deleted scenes are included on the third disc.

In addition to Jeremy Piven in the title role, the returning cast includes Frances O’Connor (“Madame Bovary”) as Harry’s decent, down-to-earth wife, Rose; Aisling Loftus (“Page Eight”) as Agnes Towler, the gutsy sales clerk promoted to head of display; Amanda Abbington (“Sherlock” Season 3) as Miss Mardle, jilted in love last season but smiled on by fate in the new series; and Ron Cook (“Little Dorrit”) as Mr. Crabb, the store’s money man with the bunny-in-the-headlights stare.

Also back are Katherine Kelly (“Coronation Street”) as showgirl-turned-socialite Lady Mae; Grégory Fitoussi (“World War Z”) as Henri LeClair, brilliant window designer, strangely evasive about his recent travels; Samuel West (“Any Human Heart”) as enterprising journalist Frank Edwards, whose scoops threaten disaster; Tom Goodman-Hill (“Case Histories”) as stern personnel director Mr. Grove, now a father many times over; and Trystan Gravelle (“Anonymous”) as Victor Colleano, the good-looking, ambitious manager of the store’s Palm Court Restaurant. 

Joining the cast are Polly Walker (“Miss Marple”) as Delphine Day, risqué novelist and proprietor of a brilliant new nightclub; Cal Macaninch (“Downton Abbey”) as Mr. Thackeray, the sharp-tongued new head of fashion; and Aidan McArdle (“Jane Eyre”) as Lord Loxley, Lady Mae’s absentee husband, who suddenly shows up to recoup the fortune he has gambled away, while tormenting his wife and her close friends – notably Harry.

An excellent selection of a fine co-production between ITV Studios and Masterpiece, Mr. Selfridge: Season 2: Original UK Edition: 3-Disc Set will debut on Blu-ray Disc at retailers on and offline on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 courtesy of PBS Distribution.

(C) Copyright 2014 By Mark Rivera
All Rights Reserved.