Sunday, BBC1 (oh dear…)
Monday, BBC1 (…phew)
And so, Captain Poldark, your fifth series has concluded and that’s it, the end, no sixth Poldark series to anticipate. Instead, just empty Sunday night after empty Sunday night after empty Sunday night, and it will be so hard to bear, Cap’n.
No more Demelzabub and her angry pies (veal and egg was her very last angry pie). No more ‘pilchards are coming!’, or galloping along cliff edges, or Sir Full-On Evil George – now known as ‘Heroic Two-Pistols George’, remarkably – going all ‘lunatic’ at Trenwith. No more sad babies (Julia, Sarah) or happy babies (Loveday!) or copper in them there mines or Valentine reminding us of someone, although we can’t quite put our finger on who. So from now on it’s empty Sunday night after empty Sunday night. If I were Caroline, Cap’n, I would find this so difficult to speak about that I would only be able to say it through Horace, as in: ‘Horace says this is a wretched business, Dr Enys.’ No one quite knows how old Horace is, by the way, although the current thinking does put him at around 892.
Kiss goodbye: Eleanor Tomlinson and Aidan Turner. ‘Cap’n, your penultimate episode was… how can I put this… a bit of a mess?’
Cap’n, as we are old friends, can I be truthful? This series has not been wholly successful. Too much time was spent on characters it was hard to care about, like Crashing Bore Ned and Mahogany Man, and also Mahogany Man’s half-brother, Corrupt Magistrate Man, and you didn’t take your shirt off even once, which just seems mean, somehow. I’m not the kind of middle-aged woman who lives for that sort of thing, as I am not that shallow, but I know someone who is, and she was sad. (Very.)
Also, too much time was spent on spying and double-crossing and to-ing and fro-ing from Cornwall to London and promenading the pleasure gardens at Vauxhall – was it the same fire-eater every time, or a different one? – at the expense of the intimate relationships in which we’d spent the previous four series investing. And what was the deal with your scar, Cap’n, which sometimes plainly wasn’t there? Had the production stopped paying attention or had you been using Bio-Oil, which they do say is good for scars? Will they be putting your name on the box from now on, do we think?
Cap’n, your penultimate episode was… how can I put this… a bit of a mess? We are used to this series having a cracking pace, with scenes rarely lasting longer than a minute, but here everyone was always on the go. It was too much, and also not especially coherent. You were pushed down a mineshaft but came round with barely a bruise? Cecily escaped her father’s imprisonment, how? I wrote in my notes: ‘Who is this French fella, suddenly?’ And elsewhere, Geoffrey Charles was beaten up, Horace was poisoned (oh no!), Kitty set sail for Honduras, Cecily called it a day with Geoffrey Charles (why?) and Caroline blackmailed George. There was only the one moment that hit home emotionally and it was when George turned to his uncle and said, ‘Why are we protecting a local lunatic?’, only for Cary to reply, ‘We’re not, we’re protecting you.’ Jack Farthing has been sensational as George, most notably when George is allowed flashes of vulnerability, as happened here, when the penny dropped.
However, Cap’n, the final episode was a corker. Once Demelzabub realised you weren’t betraying her with Tess and were working for king and country, she saved you from that French general who was about to put a bullet in your head. She convinced him a sword fight was the better option, and it was, until you were about to be defeated, and then… enter Heroic Two-Pistols George! A pistol twirling in each hand, like John Wayne entering a saloon, he saved you, for which you were grateful. ‘I am indebted to you, which is not a position I relish,’ you said. ‘A brandy,’ you then offered? No, said George. ‘Because you think I might poison you?’ you said. ‘I wouldn’t rule it out,’ he said, crisply. Oh, that was marvellous.
And then it was back to hitting the sweet spots. Back to clifftops and the roiling sea and Demelzabub’s hair whipping in the wind and her saying you are still ‘two hearts beating as one.’ And Loveday was born and Sam married Rosina and Caroline and Dr Enys will try for another baby and the baddies were set to rights by none other than Robin Ellis, the original 1975 Poldark, playing a magistrate. A Double Poldark Moment, you could say. So it was all wonderfully satisfying, although maybe you let Troublemaker Tess off too lightly? Given she tried to burn down your house and kill your kids? As we left it you are off on a spying mission to France. ‘You will come back?’ queried Demelzabub. ‘I promise you my love, I will return,’ you said.’ What? When? OK, maybe not next year, but 2021? Works for me.