PBS’ “Masterpiece Classic” debuted a new drama Sunday (March 31), hoping to attract the viewers who are currently in “Downton Abbey” withdrawal with period piece “Mr. Selfridge,” which has already aired in the U.K. to solid ratings, averaging 8.5 million viewers per episode.
The question is — will it catch on here in the U.S.?
Star Jeremy Piven is best known for his work as Ari Gold on “Entourage,” a fast-talking, neurotic Hollywood talent agent. We can’t imagine that “Mr. Selfridge” is going to attract many “Entourage” viewers, so we’re curious as to the PBS viewer reaction to Piven in the titular role, which is not unlike his “Entourage” character.
For us, while Piven is certainly a solid Selfridge, we found the supporting characters even more interesting. In particular, Aisling Loftus as Agnes Towler, a shop girl who takes care of her younger brother and has to put up with a mooching, alcoholic father.
We’re already hoping she has good luck with Victor Colleano (Trystan Gravelle), the waiter who is trying to romance her.
It will also be interesting to watch the play between Selfridge’s wife Rose (Frances O’Connor) and the newest object of his affections, stage performer Ellen Love (Zoe Tapper). That’s a love triangle that could be rife with drama as the series goes on.
While we enjoyed the debut episode of “Mr. Selfridge,” we definitely don’t find ourselves satisfied that this is a “Downton Abbey” substitute. The setting may be the same time period — and we do love the costumes and set design — but the entire feel is different.
Whereas Downton is an estate in the English countryside, outside a small village, Selfridge & Co. is a department store in bustling, metropolitan London — and that difference is exactly the difference in the two shows as well.
Part of what we enjoy about “Downton Abbey” are the old-fashioned ways. The propriety, the rules. Mr. Selfridge is trying to bring a modern feel to his department store, which gives the show a distinctive moving-forward feel. It remains to be seen if that different feel spells success, though Season 2 of “Selfridge” has already been ordered for the U.K. and will begin production soon.
What did you think, readers? Leave your thoughts below.