Poldark is a new eight-part drama from the BBC. Ostensibly it's an adaptation of Winston Graham's novels featuring the titular British soldier who returns to Cornwall after fighting in the American Revolution.
If Sunday night Twitter is anything to go by, however, Poldark is mostly a showcase for the brooding charms of Aidan Turner – an unreasonably sexy man last seen being an unreasonably sexy dwarf in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy – here playing the facially and emotionally scarred Ross Poldark with an unreasonably sexy intensity.
This week we (Daniel Dalton and Hannah Jewell) watched the first two episodes of the show. Here's what we learned.
Daniel Dalton: Had you heard about the show before we watched it?
Hannah Jewell: I knew nothing about this show, other than the fact that it was arousing the middle-aged women of Britain quite effectively.
DD: I knew nothing either. Insert period drama here. I didn’t even know there were books. Shall we start with a plot summary?
HJ: This is a show about dangerous cliffs and even more dangerous men.
DD: This is a show about buying a mine, sexily.
HJ: This is a show about responsible agricultural landownership, but sexy.
DD: This is a show about the one sunny weekend in Cornwall. With sexy results.
DD: Okay, so to summarise, Ross Poldark – Aidan Turner – has been fighting a war and everyone thinks he’s dead and then he comes back all sexy and his ex is about to marry his cousin, who is a proper wet fish.
HJ: And cliffs.
DD: There are three clifftop scenes in the first 10 minutes. Happy cliff, sad cliff, horseback cliff. I lost count after that...
HJ: Pretty sure there was another sad cliff shortly after the horseback cliff.
DD: This is a show about gazing wistfully from clifftops.
HJ: He gets back and his dad is dead and his estate is worthless. He wants to get a loan but no one will lend to him. Poor, sexy Poldark.
DD: It's really hard to get a loan these days, to be fair.
HJ: What year was it set?
DD: Like, 2014 I think. Or 2013. The recession hit everyone pretty hard.
HJ: OK, so it's the 1780s. I googled it. I feel like the whole thing is hinged around this utterly unconvincing love triangle. Like, 'I wonder who she’ll end up with – the wet fish or the dark, rugged, passionate one the show’s named after?'
DD: They put a lot of effort into lighting Aidan Turner's magnificence, and forgot about dramatic tension. I got up to get whiskey every time they talked about arranged marriages or mining. Honestly, any time Poldark wasn’t on-screen I kinda zoned out.
HJ: You kept checking Twitter.
HJ: What does Twitter have that Poldark doesn’t?
DD: Personal validation. Everything about Poldark makes me feel terrible about myself. He’s so handsome.
HJ: I may not have been paying attention the whole time either. Mostly I was assessing our whiskey situation.
DD: Here are some questions I had: How does he keep his stubble so on point? In TV, why is it always so easy to rip sheets? Am I just weak? Why does no one in film ever eat quietly? I wanted to stab out my eardrums with a fork. Also, in period dramas, how do they all learn the dance? Is there just one? Do they have a seminar? These are the things I was thinking about while watching Poldark. I was pretty Poldrunk.
HJ: OK plot. Poldark arrives back in town and of course the wedding is in a fortnight. They would have done it immediately, or in a month’s time, but then they wouldn’t have been able to say “the wedding’s in a fortnight”. It’s the most tragic amount of time. Also, this is why you should never remarry when your lover dies in war. Because they always surprise you later, being alive and well and ruggedly handsome. Every time.
DD: Just never leave, or if you leave, never come back. Or just never love anyone. Love is the worst.
HJ: Remind me to never run through a meadow upon a cliff by the sea at sunset – you’re just asking for future plot trouble.
DD: And for some reason everyone was obsessed with mines. I was like, ‘Wait! Is this a show about a guy getting a mine?’ I felt like I’d been tricked into watching a show about mining by Aidan Turner’s eyebrow game.
HJ: He’s like a sexy venture capitalist. But instead of the next Tinder clone, he’s got like, a shit mine.
DD: And still he stayed and tried to make a go of his mine. The most implausible part was that he didn’t want to leave Cornwall.
DD: Aidan Turner might be a good actor, but I have no idea. He walks around being moody about things. And sexy. He always looks like he forgot what he went into the room for. The answer is always sexiness.
HJ: Man loves to stare out a window. He knows his angles. And his retorts. Poldark loves a zinger.
DD: He does. And he loves hammering things. And building walls with his bare hands. And carrying fairly light bales of straw. He’s a saint. A saint I tell you. Sexily sainting around, with his saintly eyebrows.
HJ: I wanted more Aidan Turner. I felt like I’d been promised more. There was a bit when he was swimming and I was like “OH YEAHHH HERE HE IS ALL NEKKID AND SWIMMING” but it was too far away. And only for like, two seconds.
DD: Even I wanted more. Polboner.
HJ: Like zoom in, BBC. Zoom in. Fuck.
DD: What about Elizabeth?
HJ: Again, it’s like, I see you, I see your proportionate facial structure, I see your ample bosom, I see your forbidden glances, but in the end I’m still like, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
DD: So her whole deal is she used to be with Poldark and now she’s with his cousin, whasisname.
DD: I felt Poldark could do better, to be fair. She seems nice. But also, like, how are you just gonna go ahead and marry his cousin? Poldark is so goddamn sexy. Everyone’s loins would be ablaze at all times in his presence. Her dad would be like, “You better fuck Poldark before I do.”
HJ: It's like a gun in a Chekhov play: If you have a man this sexy in a costume drama, he has to get laid.
HJ: Why was it always sunny in the late 18th century?
DD: They filmed it on August bank holiday. Everyone knows that it’s the only sunny time of the year.
HJ: This would all be much more believable if it rained, like, once. They’re probably saving up the rainy scene for when they do sex. That’s how sex works, see.
DD: Everyone sounds like Hagrid. "Yer a wizard, Poldark." Actually that would have been a better show. Everything is hyper glossy and luscious. It looks like Broadchurch. Like Broadchurch: The Poldark Years.
HJ: Why are Poldark's servants constantly boning? SERVANT MAN CANNOT STOP FUCKING HIS SERVANT WIFE.
DD: There was nothing else to do in the 1780s. You were either fucking or gazing wistfully from clifftops, into distances, etc.
HJ: The servants are like, “Hey, how many stereotypical places can we fuck?” so far they’ve done 1) haystack, 2) meadow.
DD: Maybe they have a checklist. A fucklist. A fuckitlist.
HJ: Being wealthy in the 1780s just meant strolling forlornly through some hedgerows being pursued by a nervous man named Francis.
DD: Wait, who is Francis?
HJ: His cousin. Fishface.
DD: Oh, fuck that guy. I genuinely thought Ross was going to murder him in the mine. “Here, cousin. Come down this mine with me. Let me murder you, in the face. With sexiness.”
HJ: “Maybe we can find you a stronger chin down here.”
DD: Then he tries to drown him. Bit of drowning never hurt anyone.
HJ: Like, you grew up in Cornwall and you can’t swim mate.
DD: His lack of ability to swim is odd because he’s such a wet fish.
HJ: Then there was the maid.
DD: Demelza. They kept calling her "the child" like she’s not the same age as them.
HJ: She’s like, 23. The second she turned up I knew she’d be well fit under all that grime, and that it was only a matter of time before they boned.
DD: Yes. She’s a redhead. Of course she was going to turn out gorgeous. After an angry bath.
HJ: By the fourth episode he'll be like, “I’m such an egalitarian that I *suppose* I'll fuck this hot redhead even though she's a bit poor.”
DD: “Society may be prejudiced against your poverty, but my dick sure ain’t.”
HJ: But no. No sex for her. Not yet anyway.
DD: Just a frolick or two. She had a bath then frolicked in a meadow. There’s really nothing else to do in Cornwall if you're not fucking and you don’t like cliffs.
DD: Speaking of which, there was distinct lack of boning in this.
HJ: Absolutely. Like in this even the IMPLIED boning is rubbish. The best we got was when Francis touches Elizabeth’s shoulder for a second, but it cut away immediately. Not that I would have wanted to see THAT sex.
DD: Imagine fucking that guy.
HJ: He’d just stare at you, stroking himself with two hands.
DD: If this were HBO it would be bone central. Wall-to-wall boning. Cliffs and boning.
HJ: There were THREE potential sex scenes in the second episode and they were ALL cut away from.
DD: What channel is this on again?
DD: Clearly this is an issue. Someone needed to fuck. On camera.
HJ: There’s the bit where Poldark was in town and Elizabeth was also in town and she just handed him a pile of linens she had purchased and their hands kinda touched and that’s supposed to pass for sex in this show.
DD: Fuck hands. I wanted their crotches to touch.
HJ: I wanted to see some full-on dick.
DD: We’re terrible people. Maybe Poldark is fine, and it’s us that’s awful.
DD: Honestly, I don’t even know what the big deal is about this show.
HJ: Me neither. I felt like I needed a murder or a boob to keep me going.
DD: Game of Thrones has ruined us. Without murders or boobs, what is there? I’m so unengaged. This is just a bunch of people being miserable near cliffs. I’m not sure I can recommend this.
HJ: If it just had a believable romance.
DD: All it has is Aidan Turner. Maybe that’s all it needs.
HJ: Yeah, to be fair, by the end I was like, ‘Ohhhh, I get it now.’ I was also drunk.
DD: I mean. I'm going to keep watching it. Because Aidan Turner. Obvs.
Poldark airs on BBC 1 on Sunday nights at 9pm. The first two episodes are available on iPlayer (UK only).