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Archive for the ‘Edwardian History’ Category

makingladyweb_2419227bBack when I was a wee anglophile, my favourite book was definitely A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Secret Garden was definitely in the top ten as well. Later, when I grew up, I was delighted to discover that she wrote a number of books for adults as well, including the two books this telefilm is based on: The Making of a Marchioness and The Methods of Lady Walderhurst. I read Marchioness, but I’ll confess, I didn’t even know a sequel to it existed until a couple of years ago, and I never read it. Marchioness is, from what I recall (it’s been several years since I read it), just an ok book. It’s a Cinderella story, but not a particularly romantic one. Instead of falling instantly in love with her prince, the Cinderella in this story (a rather Mary Sue-esque woman who’s pretty unbelieveably innocent) accepts his proposal for purely pragmatic reasons: she’s broke, has few prospects in the world, and is 34 years old, which definitely put her in the old maid category at the time the book was published (1901). A woman that age, with no family or independent fortune to fall back on, was facing a pretty grim old age of complete poverty. If you’re looking at it purely from the angle of women’s roles at the time, it does have some merit and can be interesting. Burnett, who suffered an unhappy, abusive marriage, was speaking from experience on these issues, and she had some rather pointed things to say. What a shame, then, that when the books were adapted for ITV, everything that happens in the first one is basically mashed into the first few minutes, so we can linger on the potboiler that was The Methods of Lady Walderhurst. But we’ll discuss all that later. Here’s how it all happened:

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26361 Previously on Mr Selfridge: All the spurned people on the show got together to work on a play, which I’m sure won’t be disastrous at all. Rose got a creepy stalker in Roddy, who insists she’s in love with him, and she seems to agree with that, which is gross. Grove started getting a bit closer to Doris, while freezing out Mardle, and Agnes decided to end her nonsensical fling with Henri.

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Mr Selfridge episode 8Previously on Mr Selfridge: Bunting turned up, clearly in a bad way, prompting Doris to show her softer side. Agnes got switched over to fashion and started making out with Henri, and Ellen decided to become a Serious Actress.

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John Sessions as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Mr SelfridgePreviously on Mr Selfridge: Harry drunk drove himself into a coma and was haunted by his douchbag, deadbeat dad. Grove lost his wife and let his misogynist flag fly while he was briefly in charge of the store, giving Crabb, of all people, a chance to step up and be kind of awesome. Henri revealed an inexplicable crush on Agnes.

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Suffragettes threaten the store in episode 6 of Mr SelfridgePreviously on Mr Selfridge: Agnes got her job back and hopefully saw the back of her dad for the last time. Lady Mae got her claws into Victor, Ellen attempted suicide, and Harry’s life started to crumble, sending him off into a drunk-driving accident.

On her way to work, Agnes sees newspapers with the news of Harry’s accident splashed all over the front page. Slow news day? There’s a suffragette outside the store handing out leaflets and Agnes distractedly takes one.

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Mr_Selfridge Episode 5-ITVPreviously on Mr Selfridge: Ellen got fired after gatecrashing an event with Anna Pavlova and making an ass of herself; Drunken Dad also took the opportunity to make an ass of himself, costing Agnes her job. Things between Rose and Turner the artist went perhaps a touch further than is strictly proper.

Wow, no teaser scene this week. Right to the credits.

Selfridge and Crabb head into a warehouse, where sits a beautiful Rolls Royce that Harry’s going to put in the window, just as Henri promised. Crabb’s a bit worried about the cost (of course), and he warns Harry that the car is not insured to be driven, not even by Harry. Henri shows up and declares the car magnificent. Harry wants the window to be all about motoring for the modern age. Henri says he needs Agnes and Harry’s like, fine, go ahead and grab her. Henri looks at him like he’s an idiot and reminds him that Agnes doesn’t work there anymore, after that business with her dad.

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Mr_SelfridgePreviously on Mr Selfridge: Ellen started getting all coked up and a bit unhinged, Agnes’s alcoholic father started getting abusive, and Rose had her artist friend, Roddy Temple, start painting her portrait.

Harry, trailed by Grove, Crabb, and Henri, steps off the elevator, and he does not look happy. He calls for Miss Bunting, head of…fabrics, I guess? Which makes her name kind of funny, to join them. She looks scared. Grove asks for Mardle to help them out and to check the hem of Bunting’s skirt. Mardle looks alarmed, but she does so and pulls out a length of silk the woman had stuffed in there, while the other workers stare. Bunting weeps and says she’s sorry, but Harry (rather regretfully, it must be said) fires her. Well, this all came out of absolutely nowhere. Poor writing, writers. Really poor. It’s so random it almost seems like she was set up (she wasn’t, but it seems like that should be the case). I also can’t help but wonder why Henri’s being involved in this. Isn’t he just the window dresser? What’s his involvement with staff disciplinary issues?

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