Our rating: 3 out of 5
Reviewer: Rissi C.
Since I am not a scholar of World War II, it escapes me whether or not this British “soap” series is accurate to any extent or if it takes more liberties than it should. Nevertheless, I can see why it is so popular among its audience, because it is endearing.
On the Finch farm, everyone seems lost in their own world of hurt or sorrow. Young Bea (Jo Woodcock) is settling 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 turning out to be a rosy one. Although he promised her it didn’t make a difference, Bea begins to see that Billy is resentful of her child and when she watches how easily fellow land girl Joyce (Becci Gemmall) is swept off her feet by her husband, the romantic-minded Bea feels the loss romance in her own life. This leads her to befriend a POW working on the farm, driving a bigger wedge between the lovers. Into all of this strolls newcomer Connie Carter (Seline Hizli), a city-bred girl who has left London and a wealthy beau behind to do her bit – unfortunately for Connie, she and country life don’t seem to agree with her. In charge over the day-to-day tasks of the land girls, Esther (Susan Cookson) is bothered by Connie’s disruptive behavior, which escalates when she is seen kissing Billy, and 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.
Up at the grand Hoxley estate, the very proper and staid Ellen Hoxley (Sophie Ward) is still coming to terms with the loss of her husband – and she must confront it when his accused murderer is set loose due to lack of evidence and a 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 come to terms with each other… and it is soon uncovered that Jack is not here for just business.
As historical dramas go, this one is not the best to ever be adapted for the screen but I still love its endearing qualities while recognizing that it is no Foyle’s War. It is engaging without being too sappy, which is especially true where series two is concerned – it has an edgier sense to it that was missing from the first. Many events take place that turn out to not always be 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 Billy would even suggest such a thing to his young wife because he knew exactly what he was getting into when he asked for her hand in marriage – young or not, it isn’t an excuse. The content wasn’t terrible but bears mentioning. There is reference to two extra-marital sexual relationships. One couple is seen in bed together (she is clothed in her slip), the other we merely see sharing a drink and a one-sided kiss (the woman is reluctant to engage in a one-time fling but she isn’t sexually assaulted). In social situations, characters drink; profanity is limited (da*n). There is a murder and conversation references one in the past; there is also a question left hanging if another is about to take place in the finale. Child abuse is briefly dealt with. Darker in general, this time around there is murder, sinister characters and “arrangements” that make our skin crawl. News about Joyce’s husband comes that sends her world reeling and Bea contemplates an entirely new life.
The 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 they did throw in some twists to surprise us in how they resolved some of the ongoing 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 her blossoming romance. It was too cute and I am very much looking forward to seeing where the writers take her and Henry. Fortunately for me, the third series is just released in the states – I know I am excited to see the next installments, but I am guarded about yet more cast changes considering the young Finch family will be absent. This results in the finale being both a bit sappy and bittersweet.