Mr Selfridge tells the story of a rich man who can’t keep it in his pants. There’s more to the story than that, of course, but our hero’s choices tend to effect all of those around him. Mr Selfridge is a brassy American opening up a high end department store in London during the waning hours of the British Empire under King Edward. There’s the usual Upstairs/Downstairs business of following around the rich owner and a select group of the poor working stiffs trudging away in his giant store. All manner of famous and important people come to Selfridge’s, including Arthur Conan Doyle and Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton . Mr Selfridge is a master of getting and keeping the public attention.
Having seen The Paradise recently, another British drama about a high end department store-this one set in the Victorian Era-I found that I occasionally got my hard working shop assistants mixed up and wondered why such and such a character hadn’t made a appearance in a while. The Paradise was also a very good show.
Far and away the best part of Mr Selfridge was the costumes and make up. All the women looked like Gibson girls or illustrations by Harrison Fisher. They wore huge hats and massive mounds of hair haloed their heads, with just a few strands out place to make you wonder what they’d been up to recently. The men all wore elegant suits and there was often a play or some gala event to attend.
I was particularly taken with the look of Katherine Kelly’s Lady Mae, a rich woman who keeps away from her husband and changes lovers almost as often as she changes hats. Lady Mae always wears amazing clothes and turns her face to the camera at just the perfect angel. I’ve always had a weak spot for those Eliza Doolittle at Ascot outfits.
Mr Selfridge is a good show, the cast is great, the costumes and sets are wonderful, and the story is interesting to watch as it unfolds.