I haven’t a clue how historically accurate this series might be but I can see why this British “soap” is such a popular daytime drama among its targeted (likely female) audience, because it is addictive – in all the right ways, mind you.
On the Finch farm, everyone seems to be closely guarding some secret or another. Young Bea (Jo Woodcock) is learning how to settle into motherhood and is caring for her small son while working the fields but her new marriage to the famer’s son, Billy Finch (Liam Boyle) isn’t exactly rosy. Although he promised her it didn’t make a difference, Bea begins to doubt Billy’s acceptance of her young son, and seeing how fellow land girl, Joyce (Becci Gemmall) is often swept off her feet by her fighter-pilot husband, Bea starts feeling a bit restless. This leads Bea to befriend a POW working on the farm spurring an even wider chasm between the newlyweds. Into all of this strolls newcomer Connie Carter (Seline Hizli). A city-bred girl who has left London and a wealthy beau behind after encouragement from friends to try the country life – unfortunately for Connie, she and country life don’t agree. In charge over the day-to-day tasks of the land girls, Esther (Susan Cookson) is upset by Connie’s brashness – behavior that escalates when she is seen kissing Billy, and young Martin (Mykola Allen) is injured in the aftermath. Not one to be easily hurt, the sassy-mouthed Connie captures the attentions of several soldiers but it isn’t until she meets the mild-mannered Henry (Liam Garrigan) that she begins to wonder what life might be like if she were to settle into marital bliss.
Back at the grand Hoxley estate, the very proper and staid lady of the house, Ellen Hoxley (Sophie Ward) is still coming to terms with the death of her husband – and she must confront it when his accused murderer is set loose on the streets of their small community due to lack of evidence and failure to find the two witnesses to the murder. Her home is temporarily used as a headquarters for U.S. troops in the area which gives her flirtatious and married sister (Raquel Cassidy) an endless stream of men to entertain her. It isn’t until an American business man (Clive Wood) arrives that the pair of them really work against each other… and learn that Jack is not here for just business.
As historical dramas go, this one is perhaps not the best to ever be adapted for the screen but I still love its endearing qualities. It is sweet without being too sappy (in my opinion), which is especially true where series two is concerned – it has an edgier feel to it that was missing from the first. As opposed to before, series two has a lot of “mistaken” sequences of events take place that are not always what they seem. Unfortunately for all of their good intentions, my esteem for a couple of characters slipped drastically. One act was done for the good of another and the other suggestion was just incomprehensible. I couldn’t believe that Billy would even suggest such a drastic life change to his young wife because he knew exactly what he was getting himself into when he asked for her hand in marriage – young or not, it isn’t an excuse.
Darker in general, this time around there is murder, sinister characters, children refugees and “arrangements” made that make our skin crawl. News about Joyce’s husband comes that sends her world upside down and Bea contemplates an entirely new life. Writers tried their hand at some light suspense and I think it worked well. Each episode left us on the edge of our seats wanting to play the next one and, surprisingly, the writers did sometimes surprise us at how they resolved some of the on-going subplots; some of which are not always cleared up with happiness and sunshine. I adored Connie’s character – she was one of those people who is not all she seems upon first impressions (clichéd as her story may be) and I was delighted with the blossoming romance between her and Henry. It was too cute and I am very much looking forward to seeing where the writers take these two. Fortunately for me, Amazon has the third series available on dvd today – I know I am excited to see the next installments, but I am wary about yet more cast changes and what it will mean considering the young Finch family will be absent. Their story results in the finale being both a bit sappy (the gesture was what counted), and still bittersweet.
(Rated TVPG, the series implies two romantic trysts; both of which involve married women [we see one couple briefly in bed together still clothed]. Characters drink at every social event; there is a murder and conversation about one in the past – the end also implies another may be about to take place. A man gets his leg caught in a trap [no blood] and there are brief references to child abuse. There may be a British swear word here and there, other profanities consist of da*n.)