Then, one day, back in November, I didn't have anything at home to watch, and I was at the library, so I did something I rarely do: I browsed the DVD shelves, just to see if I might find anything interesting. Browsing DVD shelves at the library is rather like looking for flowers under a whole bunch of weeds in a garden. Weeds with prickles on them, so you don't want to touch them, you know. I knew I'd probably miss anything new to watch, and as a blogger and someone who mainly watches period films is there really much of anything good that I don't know about?, so I was mainly looking for something good I hadn't seen in a long time and had quite forgotten about. Then I saw two seasons of Lark Rise sitting there. So I read the back covers... I knew some of the story from Season 2, so I looked at Season 3, and found that it looked unfamiliar. I checked it out, brought it home and watched it, starting with Episode 1, of course... and then another, and then another, and suddenly I found to my surprise that I was hooked. I was loving it. I didn't want it to end yet at the same time I wanted to find out what would happen, and... well, you know that old dilemma.
After I'd finished Season 3, I got Season 4 again, just because I was rolling with the story, you know, although I'd seen all those episodes before. (Only now they actually made sense.) Then I started afresh with Season 1... it was checked out at the library, so I would curl up on the sofa in the living room with my brother's laptop on the coffee table and watch the episodes that way, using this delightful channel on YouTube. (My brother's laptop has a nicer widescreen than the main one. Like I really need to mention all that.) There were tons I hadn't seen from Season 1, although it was fun to recall the bits I did see. And I think it had been another case of my happening to see the bits that are exactly the things I don't much care for in the series, so I thought it was all the same and formed an unfavorable impression. It's strange how that often happens. But anyways, I watched quite a bit of Season 2 the same way before getting that DVD set from the library... but it was quite sad by the time I'd gotten to the last episode. For a while, you know, I was experiencing new and never-before-seen-by-me period drama, which is nice after a long time of having to re-watch things.
But it isn't all over. Because now I get to review it. (Well, it will be half review and half long-winded babbling about all the characters.) Although a fan of Lark Rise now, there are still things about it that I don't like and things I wouldn't recommend. Also the episodes can be very hit-and-miss. Season 3 is still my favorite, and it's not just because that's what got me hooked, as I suspected originally. I've figured out some other reasons why I like it better... but I will get to all that in due course. I'm not going to review this one season as a time, because if I was going to do that, I'd probably review Season 1 and then stop. So what I did was write it as one big long (long, long) post, and then because of its horrible longness I am dividing it up into two parts and this one will cover the main characters & season 1. (I wanted to split it up with the first post having the first two seasons, and the second having 3 and 4, but that would make the second post a lot shorter.)
I'll start by talking about the main characters... and by "main", I mean the ones that are pretty much in the whole series (at least three seasons). There are some other characters that are only in certain seasons, so I'll get to them later.
One thing I like about this show is the abundance of recognizable actors. (Of course, if I hadn't seen so many other period dramas they wouldn't be recognizable, but... anyways.) So I'll talk about that at the bottom of each rambling. ;)
In the beginning at least, Laura is the main main character, or the heroine of the piece. Like most of the characters in this show, I have like-dislike emotions regarding her. (That's a less drastic version of "love-hate", you know.) She can be quite annoying at times, and frankly, not very relate-able. That's not to say I don't have anything in common with her, because I do, somewhat. Sometimes. And sometimes I do like her... and I'm usually on her side, anyways. I wish her good and not ill. Her taste in young gentleman is not always the wisest, however. But I'll get to talking about her beaux later on.
But here, I haven't talked at all about Laura, I've just rambled on about what I think of her, and not very well at that. Laura is 16 at the beginning of the series, leaving her boisterous home in Lark Rise to live in Candleford and work at the post office, under the supervision of her mother's cousin, Dorcas Lane, who runs the post office. She is very wide-eyed and unused to everything at first--Candleford is a high-class town in comparison with the village of Lark Rise, though it is a small one. Gradually she becomes accustomed to it and learns to love her new life, though she continues to stay connected with her family and friends in Lark Rise.
As aforementioned, Dorcas Lane runs the post office. She's a single lady and therefore Quite Independent. She inherited the post office from her father, although I'm sure it could not have been passed down to a more deserving and capable person than she. She loves it and the community wholeheartedly and finds herself satisfied with her life--most of the time. She has a little tendency towards meddling, although it all comes from an earnest desire to help people... also, she is sometimes accused of meddling when half the people come to her for advice, plain and simple, and she can scarcely avoid it. She can't be expected to just act like a hired counselor--give her advice and then forget all about everything; she really cares about these people and what's happening to them.
As much as I admire Miss Lane in many ways, sometimes she does infuriate me. She can be rather high and mighty at times, and it's like she can make assumptions about other people and try to help them and all that, but when they try to do it with HER... well, she bites. As my mamma often says, she can "dish it out but she can't take it". And besides for that she is a bit of a know-it-all, and quite opinionated. (And the opinions themselves sometimes annoy me--especially her more 'liberal' ones. When it comes to her reading Charles Darwin, I agree with Thomas. Oh wait, haven't talked about him yet...) I must say I like her best in her vulnerable moments. Oh, and she has a good sense of humor, and be quite funny with all her announcements that such-and-such is her one weakness. Let's see, how many can I think of that she mentioned? Food, baths, picnics, clothes... I think that's just from the first few episodes. Next time I watch the series I should keep a real list.
Other parts I've seen Julia Sawalha in: Mercy Pecksniff in Martin Chuzzlewit (1994), Lydia Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (1995), Jessie Brown in Cranford (2007); and apparently she did the voice for Mouse in the animated/cartoon Kipper movies I used to watch. Ha, ha, ha. Now I want to watch them again. :P By the way, it's rather amusing to compare Dorcas Lane to Lydia Bennet. That is, it's amusing to try to compare her to Lydia Bennet, and fail miserably.
Thomas is the mail-carrier. Well, the main one; Laura has a few "rounds" of her own after the first few episodes. I have mixed feelings about Thomas, but for the most part he annoys me. He is sooo moody and has absolutely no sense of humor. (Well, on second thought, let's change that to 'very little'.) He has very strong convictions about things, which I do respect in a lot of ways; I don't agree with the Church of England but a lot of his sermonettes are Biblical and I agree with some things. He always sticks up for what is right. But on the other hand, some of it is just ridiculous, and there lies the problem... I think that the general idea is supposed to be that he and his opinions in general are ridiculous, when really it is blended and people who know better can discern which things are which, but everyone else probably just views him as one of those crazy Christian fanatics. (It's supposed to be comical, you know.) I admire his character for being devout, but I don't admire him for being unreasonable as he can be. And as I said... major mood swings. Man, that guy is a straight melancholic. I can be quite moody myself, but Thomas is the extremity. Eh-heh.
I do like him and Margaret (his sweetheart/fiancee/wife, depending on where in the series you are) together. I think that she's the only sort of person that could have been right for him... but that being said, it makes a nice romance.
Minnie doesn't come in until the second episode of Season 2, but I'm going to talk about her anyways, because she's one of my favorite characters. She's the maid at the post office, and she's so FUNNY. One of those people, you know, who don't mean to be funny, but they are. She's not the brightest crayon in the box, I must say that... but she has a good heart, never means any harm, and is a true and loyal friend. That is, you wouldn't want to trust her with a secret, but she'll stick up for you if necessary. (Unless it is too frightening to do so. :P) Anyway... she's hysterical. Her looks, her way of talking, her facial expressions, the things she says, her density, her flustered-ness... oh, and I love it when she hears a new word and tries to say it. "Persisterence" is my favorite, and I never can conquer the way she says "extraordinary".
Now, when she first appears she can be rather annoying. But stick with it, because she improves. And like so many of the characters, I like her best in the 3rd season.
It's fun watching her and Dorcas Lane, who is constantly working at instructing Minnie, and sometimes she doesn't understand half of what Miss Lane is saying. Their random little conversations and exchanges often amuse me.
"Mum... is frivolous bad?"
"On the contrary. Frivolity is essential. When we begin to take ourselves too seriously, we are headed for trouble."
"Do I take myself too seriously, mum??"
"Not often, Minnie. I think you are safe."
I haven't actually seen this actress in anything else, but apparently she played Mary Bennet in the infamous Lost in Austen, which amuses me to contemplate. Also a random person in Oliver Twist (2009).
Pearl and Ruby Pratt
The Misses Pratt are seamstresses who have a shop just down the street from the post office. They are sisters, unmarried, and can be very snooty and uppity and gossip quite a bit... I definitely like Ruby better, although she seems pretty much as bad as Pearl in the beginning. Gradually as you get to know her character better, though, you can see that she's better when she's not so much under her sister's influence. Pearl has some moments where you feel sorry for her, but other than that... ehh. I don't like her.
The two of them are always matching, which, I think they explained once, is somewhat of a publicity stunt. As it happens, though, I think a lot of the dresses they wear are hideously outlandish and the things they actually sell people are nicer.
Victoria Hamilton played Ruby, who was also in P&P95 as Harriet Forster. I've also seen her as Harriet Musgrove in Persuasion (1995), and she's been in a few other period dramas I haven't seen.
I'm not sure whether to put her in Lark Rise or Candleford, because in the beginning she lives in Lark Rise, I think... she's the daughter of the rector, so it's sort of both while he's living. But once she gets married she lives in Candleford. Anyways, for the most part I like Margaret, except for in a few episodes... in at least one episode, I think they did some things with her that were out of character. But anyways, she's a nice lady, and as I said earlier, the only sort of person who could get along with Thomas (though they do have their problems sometimes... usually his fault though).
The last time I watched the 2011 Jane Eyre, I noticed this actress (Sandy McDade) as Miss Scatcherd, which was a very small part... and she's much more suited to a nice lady like Margaret Brown than a harsh schoolteacher.
In Lark Rise
Robert and Emma Timmins (& family)
These are Laura's parents. For the most part, I don't really care for Robert; too opinionated and generally irritating, although I like him all right some of the time. (Dear me, what a broken record I am.) I like Emma for the most part, although as a sister of mine pointed out, she can be rather irritating in Season 4. (And other times... just not as much.) She is a sensible woman, which is something I greatly admire in the Lark Rise crowd... but then, she's not annoyingly sensible, if you know what I mean. And she certainly has her faults and all that, but anyways.
About the children, I don't have much to say... Edmund is the only one who really has anything to do with anything, and that's in the second half of the series. It's funny to see how young he looks at the beginning, after watching the later seasons.
Brendan Coyle, who plays Robert, was in North & South as Nicholas Higgins (and his character was actually similar to Robert's in some ways), and I know he is in Downton Abbey although I've only seen a few clips of that. Claudie Blakley--Mrs. Timmins--is one of those actresses I see popping up all over the place: Camilla French in He Knew He Was Right (what a character!!), Charlotte Lucas in the 2005 P&P, Martha in Cranford, and those are only the ones I've seen to date.
Queenie and Twister Turrill
Twister is an old coot (or, as Queenie would call him, a "duffer") who isn't really quite right in the head a deal of the time, and is just an odd one in general. And he complains a lot. And is very touchy. And is very fond of liquor, a trait which I greatly anti-admire. Queenie I like for the most part, except when she's being superstitious and pagan. (Which by the way, Dorcas, does not "only mean rustic faith".) There are some bits concerning that that I do not condone, but fortunately it isn't too often. She keeps bees, which I don't seem to notice in the later seasons... she's a sort of mother to anyone who needs one, having a past and present with taking care of children who need it at the time. She's an interesting character, and as long as she's around I actually find Twister tolerable most of the time.
I've seen Linda Bassett in Our Mutual Friend as a woman named Abby, and in Sense and Sensibility (2008) as Mrs. Jennings.
Caroline Arless drives me nuts. That's all there is to be said. Well, scratch that, I have more to say. She can be sort of funny sometimes, but it's often in a way that irritates me, and her coarseness and general annoying-ness and, well, stupidity, outweigh it if you ask me. And even if not, it's again with the over-fondness for ale. (Actually, any fondness for ale would gain my disapproval but she is even worse.) I find it rather amusingly satisfying that that is what got her in debt, though. Heh, heh, heh.
Needless to say, I was glad when she left after the first episode of Season 2 and didn't come back until the end of the series. (She's also gone briefly in Season 1.)
On the other hand, I do like her son Alf, who fortunately was able not to be too much influenced by her while being brought up, it seems. He's a nice fellow; honorable, considerate and rather happy-go-lucky, except when his circumstances get to him and he feels depressed, which isn't all that often considering. He likes Laura in the beginning, although she just wants to be friends with him, even though she seems to come close to considering him a couple times. As for his other romances, there's one in Season 2 where I kind of liked the girl at first, but then she got annoying and I was glad she didn't reappear. As for Seasons 3 and 4... heehee. *smiles mysteriously* Well, I won't give away anything, but I do consider that romance to be very cute.
Mr. Arless is only in one episode... and I like him tolerably some of the time. It is annoying that he keeps leaving, though. He should stay and take care of his family; and with that woman, they need it.
Now I've finished with the main characters, and we can proceed.
Season One (2008)
Main Characters from Season One
Sir Timothy and Lady Adelaide Midwinter
After a while, I got tired of these characters and the drama involved with them. It's also not quite the thing, because the drama is... not quite the thing. Sir Timothy, though married to Lady Adelaide, still seems to have feelings for his former sweetheart--Dorcas Lane. And spends a bit of time in her company (which most of the time is excused as business), so the wife gets jealous, and all that. As for Lady Adelaide, sometimes I liked her all right, and other times she annoyed me too. I did feel sorry for her, though, and while Dorcas was not entirely blameless, she had a much better sense of propriety than Sir Timothy did--and also a better consideration for Adelaide's feelings. In the last episode she was very rash about things, which did annoy me... but of course it all turns out all right. (It always does, you know.) And Sir Timothy finally realizes what his duty is. (Although technically, why did he go and marry somebody else to begin with, if he was still interested in Miss Lane? And somebody who doesn't seem to be his "type", at that... not clever.)
Oh, but I do think Midwinter is a very romantical surname. I must remember to use it sometime.
Zillah is the maid at the post office in the first season (before Minnie). I do not like her. Old bat.
Oh, ahem. Did I just type that out loud?
But I don't like her. She is annoying. I comforted myself, though, that since she was so old, she would probably die by the end of the season. They had to drag it out as long as possible, though....
I recognized this actress when I recently watched the 2001 version of Nicholas Nickleby.
Argghhhh. This guy is Laura's beau during this season, and he annoys me too. He's a bit of an arrogant numskull, and I thought Laura a bit stupid to take so long to realize it herself. I suppose she was just interested in him because he was interested in her--but she eventually discovers that there's more to a person than how they act when you're together.
1 - This one is fun because it's the very first.
5 and 6 are both interesting and don't annoy me for the most part.
2 - Minus the annoying bits with Mrs. Arless and the people she owes trying to find her and all that, this wouldn't qualify as a least-favorite episode; some of it is quite interesting. So I just skip the bits I find distasteful.
3 - This one was rather irritating in general, but the plot with the maid for Amos and his son was a bit... ehhh.
4 - Mr. Smallweed from Bleak House is in this one, as a villainous character... and it is just not a very enjoyable episode.
8 - I think I can call this one a "least favorite". It is one in which Miss Lane forces me not to like her (and she wears the most low-cut dress I've seen on her in the series, haha). The schoolteacher, around whom the episode revolves, gets on my one nerve, and her romance with him is quite ridiculous. (And in real life he was like nine years younger than her, hahaha...)
Claire Skinner as Mrs. Macey
Mrs. Macey is actually in two episodes and plays a prominent role in one of them. She is the other mail carrier until she leaves before episode 3, and Laura eventually takes over her rounds. There's some interesting story involving her... a mysterious past, muwahahaha. Anyways, I recognized her at once as Fanny Dashwood (half-sister-in-law of the Dashwood sisters) from the 2008 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Oh, and I've heard her as Isabella Thorpe in a radio adaptation of Northanger Abbey. She was pretty good.
Peter Wight as Amos (or "Old Amos")
This fellow appears mainly in one episode (Episode 3, mentioned below), but he makes an appearance in one or two others. I've seen him in Jane Eyre (1997) as the clergyman, Our Mutual Friend as Mr. Wilfer, P&P 2005 as Mr. Gardiner, and Persuasion (2007) as Admiral Croft. ("Such a number of mirrors... there is no getting away from oneself.")
Peter Vaughan as Reverend Ellison
In general I like the roles this actor plays, although he was dreadfully annoying on here. He's... the type who is controlling and wants to have everything his way, and is an old toad while he's at it. *cough*
I've seen him in The Moonstone (1997) as Gabriel Betteredge, Our Mutual Friend (1998) as Mr. Boffin, and Lorna Doone (2000) as Sir Ensor Doone. He's also in quite a few other period dramas I haven't seen.
Philip Davis as Mr. Ashlow
Yick. This fellow's best known to me as Mr. Smallweed in Bleak House (2005), and I can't say his character is much better on here. I've also seen him on Nicholas Nickleby (2002).
Stephen Campbell Moore as James Delafield
He shows up in Episode 8, and annoys me greatly. So does Dorcas Lane, because she has a brief romance with him. (Ugh.) Anyways, I've seen him in He Knew He Was Right as Hugh Stanbury... I also see from IMDb that he was on Amazing Grace as James Stephen, whoever that was--I can't even remember.
Jason Watkins as Constable Patterson
He's actually in Season 2 as well. I forgot to include a picture of him... but he was Mr. Plornish on Little Dorrit.
Click here to read Part 2!