The Paradise is a new period drama on B.B.C One. There has been quite a lot of hype about it through the number of previews that have been on television recently, so it is a pity to be disappointed after the first episode. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where the fault lies; the script seemed to be well written and the acting was believable. Perhaps it was the lack of chemistry between the actors or the awkward camera shots that were hard to decide whether they were meant to actually be comical or just… awkward.
The story was set in the Victorian period, though it was not stated when or where. The story is based on An Boheur des Dames by Emilie Zola, but even those who were familiar with the book would not have known where, since it is an English adaptation of a story that should have been situated in Paris. But if this is ignored, the story is not too difficult to comprehend.
A blonde country girl called Denise (Joanna Vanderham, The Runaway) comes to town hoping to live with her uncle. There is little explanation as to why she has left home, but presumably it will be explained later on. Her uncle, Edmund Lovett, regretfully reveals he cannot afford to look after his niece because a new department store, The Paradise, has made life hard for him at his drapery shop, so she goes to look for a job there. True, a department store would be an easier place to search for work but this displays the shortage of loyalty from the niece to her uncle and this is swept aside and ignored; for viewers it is tough to digest.
From the first episode, Denise is swallowed by the plots and strengths of other characters. Mr Morey (Emun Elliot, Game of Thrones), the dashing male lead and the owner of The Paradise, with his desire to increase productivity of the store outshines the story of Denise. The personality of Miss Audrey, (Sarah Lancashire, Lark Rise to Candleford) Denise’s boss, overshadows the heroine. Denise is disappointedly an average character and the story itself has a number of foreshadowing events that are too weak to entice the watcher to continue watching the series.
The drama itself is average; the style of attire that the characters wore is the most positive memorable feature. It is possible the story will improve during its procession through the eight-episode series but the first episode was a letdown. It is a shame because numerous adverts it was conveyed to be an original tale. However, it was quite forgettable, it will be a challenge to remember to watch it again next week…
You can watch it on Tuesdays at 9pm on B.B.C One, or catch up here.