Tag Archives: Polly Walker

Mr. Selfridge reopens for a second season on PBS

'Mr. Selfridge' on PBS.

Harry Selfridge (Jeremy Piven, center) thanks his staff on his store’s fifth anniversary in tonight’s two-hour ‘Masterpiece’ premiere of ‘Mr. Selfridge’ on PBS.

Mr. Selfridge, the glossy and gloriously addictive Masterpiece soap opera somewhat freely adapted from historical events, ended Season One (now available for free streaming for Amazon Prime subscribers) with Harry Selfridge (Jeremy Piven) at a low point both personally and professionally. Window designer Henri LeClair (Gregory Fitoussi), whose displays had played an invaluable part in giving Selfridge’s department store a striking public image, had turned in his notice to accept a high-profile job in New York, a decision Harry perceived as a personal betrayal.
Far worse, his long-suffering wife, Rose (Frances O’Connor), decided to leave London and take their children back to America after she reluctantly agreed to accompany her husband to the opening of a new play that starred his most recent mistress, only to discover the piece was a savage satire attacking the private lives of her family.
Season Two, which premieres tonight on PBS with a two-hour episode, picks things up five years later, in the spring of 2014, as the Selfridge’s staff prepares to celebrate the store’s fifth anniversary. Rose, good as her word, has kept the kids stateside during the interval, but she returns to London to perform her wifely duties – specifically and pointedly limited to performing her Mrs. Selfridge role at public events. Beyond that, she makes clear, she is not remotely interesting in resuming a relationship with Harry after his years of compulsive infidelity.
Joining his parents in London is Selfridge scion Gordon (Greg Austin), now 15, who announces his intentions to quit school in favor of starting his training to run a store he eventually will inherit. Rose protests, but Harry approves. Unfortunately for Gordon, he soon discovers that being the boss’s son, especially at a time when rumors of war are stirring up labor unrest, can be a mixed blessing at best.
Greg Austin joins the cast of the 'Masterpiece' series 'Mr Selfridge' this season.

Greg Austin takes over the role of son Gordon Selfridge, now 15, in tonight’s Season Two premiere of ‘Mr. Selfridge’ on ‘Masterpiece.’

The gala anniversary prompts the return of others as well, including Harry’s protégée Agnes Towler (Aisling Loftus), back from an intensive two-year design program in Paris and ready to assume her new duties as head of display for the entire store. She immediately clashes, however, with Selfridge’s officious new head of fashion, Mr. Thackeray (Cal Macaninch), who promptly starts engineering a stealth campaign to ensure Agnes’ failure.
Elsewhere, Harry’s high-maintenance yet loyal friend and benefactor Lady Mae (Katherine Kelly) faces an unpleasant obstacle when her errant and usually absent husband, Lord Loxley (Aidan McArdle), unexpectedly returns, bankrupt from gambling and seeking to replenish his fortune by fair means or foul – mostly the latter, which include blackmail and war profiteering.
On a far more pleasant note, those of us who watched sadly last season as Miss Mardle (the glorious Amanda Abbington, Sherlock) was jilted by her selfish lover, Mr. Grove (Tom Goodman-Hill), can revel in some major karmic blowback this season, as fate smiles brightly on the former and nearly crushes the latter.
Also joining the cast this season is the delightful Polly Walker (HBO’s Rome) as Rose’s new close friend Delphine Day, whose bohemian sensibilities – along with a spicy autobiography and sexy new nightclub – only sharpen Rose’s resolve to be her own woman, free of submission to Harry’s humiliations.
Piven, who is also a producer on the series, is somewhat ideally cast as the intense, brash title character, and he pulls off the character’s more vulnerable moments – which felt false too often in Season One – more successfully in the new episodes (to paraphrase a very old joke, apparently this actor finally has mastered the art of faking sincerity). The only jarring note is the new character of Lord Loxley, a one-dimensional pipsqueak of a villain portrayed by McArdle in a laughably over-the-top performance.
As in Season One, the lavish physical production, with what appears to be slavish attention to period details, is beyond reproach, fully on the same impressive level as Masterpiece’s uber-smash, Downton Abbey. Mr. Selfridge may not be high art, but it is gourmet popcorn of the highest level.
Polly Walker (center) joins the cast of 'Mr. Selfridge' for  Season Two.

Rose Selfridge (Frances O’Connor, left) congratulates her new friend Delphine Day (Polly Walker, center) on the publication of her racy new autobiography in tonight’s ‘Maseterpiece’ season premiere of ‘Mr. Selfridge.’

‘Buffy’ fan favorite resurfaces on ‘Warehouse 13’

Warehouse 13 - Season 4
James Marsters, Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly
In last October’s midseason finale of Warehouse 13, agent-in-charge Artie Nielsen (Saul Rubinek), having suffered a psychotic break, murdered Leena (Genelle Williams), a Warehouse colleague, and unleashed upon the world a deadly Artifact that could wipe out half the global population via a terrible sweating sickness.
As the series returns tonight with new episodes on Syfy, Artie lies in an apparent coma, having been stabbed with a special dagger by agent and geek goddess Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti). With few other options, Claudia and fellow agent Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore) embark on a risky journey into Artie’s psyche in a Hail Mary attempt to bring him back.
Meanwhile, agents Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering (Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly) fly to New York to find Bennett Sutton (guest star James Marsters), an alcoholic Columbia University professor who is an authority on the court of Marie Antoinette. They’re trying to find information on one of Marie’s lovers, the Count of St. Germain, who may have had an Artifact they hope may reverse the pestilence “evil Artie” unleashed. Once the trio arrives in Paris, however, Pete and Myka quickly discover that Sutton is working his own agenda. Not only is he not what he seems, but his connection with Marie’s Count is a lot more direct that they ever imagined.
Marsters is perhaps best known to fantasy fans for his wildly popular role as the British bloodsucker Spike in the cult hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and if you admired his performance on that show, you’re very likely to love him in this guest stint, which clearly is tailor-made to the actor’s knack for playing charming and sinister at the same time. There’s even a nice little “vampire” throwaway joke in an exchange with Pete and, happily, the ambiguous conclusion to the episode seems to leave open the possibility of a return appearance later by Marsters. (Polly Walker of HBO’s Rome is another guest star as a mysterious character who may also have a secret connection to Sutton).
As for Warehouse 13 itself, this episode finds the series in peak form. Williams’ Leena, who returns in this episode in a dream context to make a poignant farewell (you’ll see her next week as well, very briefly in an archived video), always was a charming presence on the show, but she had become less and less relevant as Scagliotti’s Claudia matured from her initial brattiness into a formidable, even heroic agent in her own right while also exploring Claudia’s inner life via her relationship with Ashmore’s Steve. Leena’s departure sharpens the focus on the principal characters.
As for McClintock and Kelly, their relaxed chemistry is really the engine that drives the show, and I especially like how this attractive duo has established their characters as being devoted to each other without automatically playing up a romantic or sexual component. That’s probably in the cards somewhere down the line, if Warehouse 13 continues its successful run, but it’s nice to see the writers-producers aren’t rushing toward that particular cliff.