DVD Review: Poldark (The Complete Collection)

Decades before PBS viewers became obsessed with Downton Abbey, they found themselves glued to another British miniseries on Masterpiece Theatre. During the Bicentennial era, Poldark focused on what happened to a British soldier returning home after defeat in the American Revolution. There were no parades, fireworks or ringing of bells on their arrival in Great Britain. In the case of Captain Poldark (Robin Ellis), his home life was completely yanked apart. No matter how hard he fought against George Washington’s crew, the folks back home are proving to be twice the enemy. Can he reclaim his estate after losing a chunk of the empire? Poldark: The Complete Collection presents the two seasons that were based on the novels by Winston Graham.

Poldark returns to his estate in Cornwall to discover everything has been destroyed. The house is in complete shambles. How can it get worse? His girlfriend Elizabeth (Jill Townsend) has hooked up with his cousin. She thought he died in battle and moved on with her life. Things get even more nasty when his once profitable copper mines are as bad off as the estate. The Warleggan family wants to buy the mines. However Poldark hates their guts and doesn’t want to take their much needed cash.

Further complicating things is the arrival of Demelza (Anghared Rees) into his life. She’s a waif that he busts for stealing at the fair. Instead of punishing her, Poldark gives her a chance to earn an honest living. After he gives her a transformation by scrapping off the filth from her face, they find themselves in a more physical arrangement. When she becomes pregnant, he decides that instead of doing the “proper” thing and shipping her off to America that he should marry her. With Elizabeth potentially back in his life, as well, Poldark has a lot of complications and not enough solutions. The second series gets into the double lives of Poldark’s relatives and neighbors. There’s a multitude of twisted romances in the small town. No need to spoil the end of Series 1 by talking too much about Series 2.

The series is as dashing as any great period piece of this time. Robin Ellis looks the part of Poldark with his born to the manor manners yet the swagger of military man to spice up his wardrobe. His cheek scar reminds us he’s not a fancy lad. He’s stern yet concerned about his people. There’s plenty of action on horses, hills and deep inside mines. It’s easy to get comfortable in his world with such colorful characters. Poldark: The Complete Collection is as textured as the novel series.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. Like many British productions of this time, the exterior locations were shot in 16mm while interiors at the soundstage were captured on video. The pixels in the video are rather obvious, but not distracting. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels are quite good for a video production. The episodes have English subtitles for those who have difficulty with the accents.

History of Cornwall is a text extra.

Cast Filmographies are for the actors in the first series.

Poldark: The Complete Collection defines the concept of Masterpiece Theatre. The miniseries gets deep into the life of Captain Poldark as he reclaims his life at home after being part of a losing effort in America. This is the perfect remedy for anyone suffering from an absence of Downton Abbey.

Acorn Media presents Poldark: The Complete Collection. Starring: Robin Ellis, Paul Curran, Nicholas Selby and Judy Geeson. Boxset Contents: 29 episodes on 8 DVDs. Released on DVD: January 10, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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