The Paradise is a British television drama, which premiered in September of 2012. The first season, which is set in 1875, revolves around an English department store, The Paradise, and the entirety of its staff. At the beginning of the series, we’re introduced to Denise Lovett (Joanna Vanderham), who has moved to the area from the tiny Scottish town of Peebles. She quickly meets up with her struggling shopkeeper, uncle, Edmund (Peter Wight). Of course, his struggling business makes it impossible to supply adequate wages for his niece.
With this, Denise is forced to travel across the street to the lavish shop, The Paradise, where she becomes employed by Miss Audrey (Sarah Lancashire, Happy Valley), but her true employer is the troubled, John Moray (Emun Elliott), who still grieves for his ex-wife. Despite jealousy from Miss Audrey and another shopgirl, Clara (Sonya Cassidy), Denise offers an abundance of ingenious ideals, which drive the store’s profits high and catches the eye of Moray.
In each episode, Denise is faced with some trying situations, which are brought about by colleagues, customers and her employers. Many times, her good deeds results in negative circumstances, but she always designs a clever new method for overcoming her challenges. As for Mr. Moray, each episode brings business and personal conflicts, especially with his courting on and off again girlfriend, Katherine Glendenning (Elaine Cassidy), whose father, Lord Glendenning (Patrick Malahide), holds great power over the small town.
Due to the circumstances at hand, Mr. Moray’s hand is forced and he falls into a devious trap set by the Glendennings. His best mate, and right hand man, Dudley (Matthew McNulty), also encourages Moray into a relationship with Katherine, but will Moray make the commitment? Will Denise be able to rise the ranks of The Paradise and capture Moray’s heart? Or will she be stuck in an eternal struggle with her uncle?
There are plenty of shows that offer a wide range of emotions. Many are either exciting and fun, or bleak and depressing. In The Paradise, you experience each of these, but also an impressive punch of inspiration. The pilot episode is, without a doubt, the most inspiring episode of any television show I’ve watch to date. The show wouldn’t have been a success without the impeccable performance and especially that of Joanna Vanderham, who is so captivating, as Denise. She certainly offers great motivation, when she exclaims that she doesn’t want to marry Moray, but wants to be him.
There are innumerable positive characteristics of The Paradise, the writing is excellent, each character is immensely interesting, and the dialogue is spot-on. Each of the conflicts feel authentic and intense. Of course, the show presents Denise’s story in a unique fashion. Although she is undoubtably the lead character, she doesn’t hog the entirety of each episode. Instead, it is a treat each time Denise appears on screen.
Again, there is so much to like about The Paradise that I could ramble on into the wee hours of the night, but I won’t. If you enjoy period dramas, with real emotions and a tinge of romance, you’ll want to watch this beautifully moving BBC series, which has sadly been cancelled. Still, the first season of The Paradise deserves a 9.5 and is pretty dang close to sheer perfection.