It’s taken me longer than I would have liked to review the Mr Selfridge season finale, mainly because real life (and Poldark) got in the way, but the couple of days I’ve had to muse about it in the meantime got me thinking, of all things, about Romeo and Juliet.
Not because Mr Selfridge is anywhere close to Shakespeare – the gulf between the two is about the same as the distance between Mars and planet Earth – but because I remember reading an argument somewhere that the only significant difference between Romeo and Juliet and a comedy like, say, Twelfth Night is the ending. I suspect this episode, possibly this season as a whole, wanted to say something profound about class as a potential obstacle to love, with Violette and Victor and S (Club) Junior and Grace, respectively, struggling to reconcile their social positions and their hearts’ desires. Since this is Mr Selfridge, however, what we got instead was a parade of endings, some happy some not, with your favourite/least favourite couple having to accept the luck of the draw. Or the writing of the script.
In fairness to Mr Selfridge, though, real life (interfering with my tv again!) history has something of a say in how some of these romances must end, so maybe I’m not being entirely fair. Without delving into that real life history too much, though, I wonder if the necessary constraints it must place on writing about the Selfridge family themselves are part of the reason why the relationships of fictional characters like Miss Mardle and Mr Grove are much more interesting. Watching this, I really didn’t care what happened to Violette and Victor or Mr S and Miss Webb or S (Club) Junior and Miss Calthorpe in the end, but I did care about Miss Mardle. Yes, Mr Grove has been appalling to her, and no, I’m not sure I’d have forgiven him, but at least she told him so. Loudly and clearly. And she’s so wonderful and she’s wanted him so long – I hope it works out. Especially since Mr Crabb was so awesome about sorting it. I LOVE Mr Crabb.
Sadly, I’m not loving much else about the show these days, though. Since Henri and Agnes left, the show has a sort of “final reductions” week at the sales feel about it: there are some great pieces (Mr Crabb! Miss Plunkett, George etc) and ideas (the gender politics themes were dealt with surprisingly well early on in the season) buried among the discount racks, but you have to dig through a lot of polyester piffle to get to them.
The Loxley plot, after weeks of build-up, petered out into nonsense – this super-clever, super-manipulative uber-villain who’d spent months carefully, methodically laying a secret trap for Mr S, suddenly lost his mind at the last minute and literally shouted his entire scheme to everyone he was trying to fool. The Selfridge Estate plot finished up the way it had to, I suppose, but took an interminable time getting there, when the purpose of it was really just to get Mr S back to the gambling and womanising he was doing two seasons ago. And as for the focus on Colleano’s Club… oh my God, who on earth CARES?
Sigh. Truth be told, Gregory Fitoussi was the show’s biggest draw for me and, now he’s gone, I keep coming back to two main problems – I don’t care about the Selfridges themselves and I don’t care about Victor either. Which is unfortunate because, ultimately, they became this season’s main focus. I much prefer the show when it’s about the staff or the store, rather than the owners or the club. If we can’t have Henri back next year, can we at least have more about his colleagues? Or, final one or not, I’m not sure I’ll make it as far as next season’s finale.