Mr Selfridge: Mr Selfridge Builds His Dream Store

Photo: ITV
Photo: ITV

Well, here it is, in all its controversy-laden glory. See, apparently ITV had this puppy all sewn up, filmed, promoted, and scheduled to premiere in the fall. But then the BBC, those sneaky devils, jumped in and premiered The Paradise right before Selfridge was supposed to go up (despite the fact they weren’t even filming all The Paradise’s episodes), and ITV pouted and sulked and pulled their show to avoid having it compete against yet another programme about a department store. Which was probably smart, because damn if these two aren’t basically the exact same show, just set about 35 years apart. Wide-eyed female employee favoured by the boss who seems destined to be amazing? Check. Slightly creepy rich lady the male lead depends on for his store’s success? Check. Problematic family member? Check. Money-nervous right-hand man? Check. Even the head of the accessories department acts all fluttery, just like Miss Audrey. Yikes! I know The Paradise was based on a book and this is based on a true story, so all this might be coincidental, but what are the odds, really? The one leg-up I figured this had on The Paradise is Jeremy Piven in the lead role. I loved him in Entourage (let’s face it, he was the only reason anyone watched Entourage, right?) and since it seems like he’s basically just playing Ari Gold again here, I figured it would be ok, right?

Let’s see.

Oxford Street, 1909, the height of the belle époque. Selfridge runs through his store, firing off instructions (more! Bigger!) and calling some guy who can’t get lamps to work a genius. Selfridge’s money man, Crabb, tags along, trying to get him to look at some figures, but Selfridge is uninterested. He’s got a store to open! He asks the head of accessories if everything’s set and she tells him only half the ribbons showed up, but they’ll manage. He swirls off to fashion and half flirts with the woman in charge, smiling almost manically and waving his arms around wildly the whole time. He’s brash! Exuberant! Energetic! Forward thinking! Doesn’t sweat the small stuff! He’s AMERICAN! He asks the store manager, Grove, what he thinks and Grove says he’s not sure London is ready for this newfangled shopping notion. He’s uncertain! Cautious! Stuffy! ENGLISH! Well, at least they’re balancing their stereotypes. Selfridge says this is exactly what London needs. Yes, Edwardian London was shockingly devoid of consumerism.

Opening credits that are…well, I hate to say it, but they’re a lot like The Paradise. And did Andrew Davies really write this? Of Pride and Prejudice and Bleak House fame? Was that last scene culled from what was rescued from his wastebasket? Because it was pretty bad. Maybe it was just the distractingly OTT acting.

It’s a rainy day, because this is London and all, one year previous and Selfridge is arriving at a rather bleak looking shop called Gamages. He goes to the glove department and asks the girl behind the counter to take a whole lot of gloves out and just dump them on the counter so he can see them all at once. She—all swooping dark hair and giant eyes, tells him quietly that that’s not how things are done here. Tradition! He pushes, and she relents, upsetting a box of gloves on the counter and favouring a red pair while people stare in shock at their antics. Why, they’re taking gloves out to look at them! In a shop! Selfridge asks her to try the gloves on, which she does, as her manager, who’s clearly swallowed a gallon of starch a day since infancy, spots them. Selfridge just has time to get her name—Agnes—before the manager intervenes. He recognises Selfridge, since Selfridge has been in several times but has never bought anything. He’s not at all ok with Harry’s notion of ‘just looking’ because this is a shop, not an exhibition. He tells Selfridge to get lost. Harry thanks Agnes and scoots.

Later, as she’s getting her coat to leave, the manager steams up to Agnes and fires her without references, because they ‘don’t need her sort’ there. The…sort who sells gloves? Seriously, what was her transgression? Was it because she tried the gloves on? At the urging of a customer? What was she supposed to do? I guess the notion of the customer always being right was invented by Selfridge too (no, seriously, it actually was). Agnes is shocked and clearly scared, but she’s a tiny bit heartened when one of her coworkers hands her a box with the gloves and Harry’s card in it.

Harry primps in front of a mirror, checks his watch, and looks out over the footprint of his future store, Selfridge and Waring, which is currently just a big hole in the ground. It’s time for his first press call. Along with the reporters come two stuffy Brits, one of whom observes that Harry seems to have a high opinion of himself. ‘Well, he’s American, that’s what they’re like,’ says the other. Oh, Christ. Is this really what we can expect for the next, what, TEN EPISODES? I may need to start drinking soon.

Selfridge welcomes everyone to the future home of the biggest and best department store. He promises the grand place will open in less than a year and then sees his partner in the crowd. The partner, Waring, is a pinch-faced, mean old man who orders the band to stop playing and asks Harry for a word in private. Waring, is now really the time? With the press there?

The two men go onto the building site and Waring tells Harry he’s pulling out of the project because he thinks Harry’s too reckless, what with his crazy advertising and hiring staff already. Yeah, he may be putting the cart before the horse on that last one. Harry’s aghast that Waring would go back after giving his word as a gentleman but Waring’s done. Harry asks him to at least not say anything to anyone until he has another backer. Waring agrees. Harry pastes on a happy face for the press and tells them his assistants will give him any help they need.

As Harry walks away from the site, one of the reporters comes running over and asks how the partnership’s going. Selfridge asks who he is and learns he’s Frank Edwards of the London Evening News. Selfridge has heard of him, because he’s one of the best connected men in London. He tells Edwards he’s got a huge advertising budget for ‘the right papers’. Edwards says he’d be happy to show Harry the town. They understand each other.

Their first stop is a theatre to see Ellen Love in a slightly naughty variety show. Harry’s delighted and declares her perfect (for what we don’t know yet). He asks Edwards to introduce him after the show.

Agnes returns home and is instantly harangued by her landlady for the rent. She shakes the woman off and goes into her flat, where a young man tells her she’d better pay the rent. She’s forced to confess she lost her job and hasn’t found another one yet. He completely freaks out and she snaps that he could very well get off his ass and get some work. This only angers him and he grabs her and shouts that he’s been trying. He calms down and Agnes, remarkably unshaken, wearily says she didn’t think he’d turn out like ‘him.’ He apologises and whinily asks what they’re going to do.

Edwards shows Harry backstage at the theatre, directing him to Ellen’s dressing room. They’re immediately invited in and Edwards introduces Harry. Ellen offers up champagne but Harry declines. Ellen accepts her own drink and finally places Harry’s name. He steers the conversation to her performance, which apparently ‘knocked him out’. Ellen thanks him for the compliment and disappears to get dressed behind a screen. Of course, there’s a mirror back there, so the boys can perfectly see her in her corset and drawers. Shocking! Though thus distracted, Harry manages to remember to ask Ellen to come see him at his office, as he has a proposition for her. She says she’s intrigued and takes his card, smiling charmingly.

It’s raining again (London!) as Harry’s family—four kids, mom, and wife arrive at his gorgeous home. The kids run around, exclaiming over everything while his wife gazes rapturously at the opulence. She’s played by Frances O’Connor, which makes me happy, because I like her and don’t get to see her that much. Harry takes her upstairs to show her the lovely bedroom with its French bed. He tells her how much he missed her and promises she won’t get a moment’s peace from him.

Selfridge arrives at the office and is immediately met by Crabb, the money man, who’s nervous about, well, money. Specifically the money that has not come from Mr Waring recently. Selfridge cheerfully tells him not to sweat it and goes to meet with his new heads of departments. He tells them all they’re the best of the best and he hired them early so they’d have plenty of time to find the best merchandise to stock to make their store a thrilling destination. No expenses spared! He bursts out and, once he’s alone in his office, lets himself look a bit tense and nervous.

The heads gossip as they leave, wondering if this store’s even going to happen. They’re quieted by Grove, who says all the malicious rumours are probably being put about by jealous opposition. Once he’s alone, though, he pulls Crabb aside and makes sure his paycheque is secure. He’s got an invalid wife to take care of, after all. Crabb promises that everything is just fine. Except it’s not, because Harry’s sitting at his desk, looking sick.

At breakfast, Harry’s having the kids suggest ideas for the shop. Their plans are typical of kids: an entire department for ice cream, a place for kids to play while their moms shop, and a section for toys and guns. Harry says they’re all marvellous ideas, as he starts perusing the paper and isn’t pleased that the stories about him are less than glowing. He can’t fathom why the British press isn’t falling all over themselves to declare their love for him. His wife, Rose, soothes him and reminds him that there’s always opposition to something new. She suggests a nice walk in the garden with the kids, but he has to go to work. He kisses her goodbye and she seems a little sad. What did you expect, Rose? You know he’s a busy man!

Agnes has apparently found a job scrubbing floors. As she moves the paper she was kneeling on, she sees a bit about doubts growing as to whether the store’s going to open. We get it, show. Let’s move along now.

Harry arrives at the office, where Crabb’s worried about the headlines. Harry tells him to chill, but it’s one specific headline Crabb’s concerned about: the one about Waring pulling his funding. Selfridge is pissed off that Waring would break his word a second time, and Crabb’s enraged to discover that Harry knew about Waring pulling his investment out but didn’t see fit to tell his money manager. Yeah, that’s pretty stupid. Harry blusters that this happens all the time in business, but Crabb knows business too and schools Harry on the following: it’ll be very hard to find a new backer so late, and even if they do, they’re going to get horrible terms because that backer will know they’re in a really shaky position. ‘Well, you’re just a little ray of sunshine, aren’t you?’ Harry snarks at him. Poor Crabb closes his eyes for a moment and then reminds Harry that he left a really good job to come work for him, and frankly, Harry’s recklessness in business frightens and dismays him. As it should. Selfridge was a great ideas man, but he was terrible with money. Harry tells him to stay calm and Harry will take care of things. The phone rings and Harry picks up, delighted to hear Edwards on the other end.

Edwards takes Harry to meet Lady Mae, a former good time girl turned member of the aristocracy via her marriage to Lord Locksley. She knows everyone and could get Harry an investment at the drop of a hat. She’s beautiful but a bit brittle and predatory, you can just tell. Edwards asks after Lord L and hears he’s in the country, where he is most of the time, while his wife’s in town. And everyone’s just fine with that. She waves Edwards off with her eyes, takes the measure of Harry and invites him to sit with her. Harry obliges and she observes that he’s been making quite a stir, but London doesn’t seem to like him much, because London doesn’t like to be shown how to do things, especially by outsiders. Especially by Americans, I’ll wager. He asks if she feels the same way and she says no, she likes being shown how to do new things, particularly by a man who knows what he’s about. The thing is, though, the smart set don’t ‘shop.’ It’s just not the fashion. Harry suggests they both change the fashion and, with a slightly pitying look, she realises he’s there to get her help finding a backer. Why did you think he was there, Lady Mae? For your charming company? Harry tries to play it off like he doesn’t need the money but she knows better. Before they can go further, another guest starts stumbling around embarrassingly and Mae goes to attend to him. Edwards joins Harry and tells him the drunken man is May’s younger lover.

Harry returns home and is met by the butler, naturally. He goes upstairs to tuck in the kids and finds his son, Gordon, still awake. Gordon asks him what a ‘huckster’ is and Harry tells him it’s a man who buys and sells things. Gordon tells him one of the kids at school called Harry a huckster and Gordon knocked him down for it, even though he didn’t know what the word meant. Harry tells him there’s nothing wrong with being a huckster and that someday Gordon will run the firm and that kid’ll be asking him for a job. I doubt that. The kids these children are going to school with will probably be customers.

Harry finally makes it to bed and Rose wakes as he’s getting undressed and asks if he had a good time. He tells her he had an interesting time and now he’s glad to be home. They start to make out.

Later, Harry’s mom finds him sitting on the stairs in his bathrobe. She asks if everything’s ok and he admits that things are a bit rough just now. She reminds him he’s been in over his head before and they’ve been fine. Plus, they’ve been poor before (really poor, his father abandoned the family after the Civil War and she really struggled to support herself and Harry) so being poor again isn’t the worst thing. Except, Harry’s wife came from money and was a property owner in her own right, so I doubt they’d all be out on the street anyway. Harry tells her he knows someone who could help him, but he’s not sure he wants to get into bed with them, so to speak. He thinks it could be dangerous. She starts to tell him how proud his father would be if he could see Harry now. Harry asks her not to speak about him and goes back upstairs.

Harry apparently decides to dine with the devil after all and reports back to Lady Mae, bringing along some backup: Henri, his handsome window-dresser. She offers champagne but Harry once again declines, because apparently he doesn’t drink. She settles down and asks Henri to explain what he does. He talks about creating elaborate window displays, the idea of which intrigues Lady Mae, who’s tickled by his notion of putting a motorcar in one of the windows. It’s so fabulously extravagant! She tells Harry this does seem like a thrilling enterprise and he promises to share it with his friends. She suggests they be the very best of friends and then also hints that she’ll be calling on him for favours from time to time. He accepts that as the price of doing business. She asks if he’s fond of shooting and invites him to the country the next weekend to meet someone. She asks Henri to make sure Harry has a nice pair of knickerbockers to wear. Harry repeats the word like he’s never heard it before, which is odd in a man in retail. ‘I do so enjoy a shapely calf,’ she winks before sweeping out of the room.

Harry’s next out in the country with some tweedy stereotypes of English gentlemen. The tweediest of them all unloads his spent shells right into Harry’s chest, which for some reason I find really funny, and tells Harry he chooses his business ventures like he chooses his horses. Of course he does. He does it all by feel and by looking them in the eye, and he likes the feel of Harry, so he’s in. Success!

Selfridge’s store is now officially a go. The months fly by as preparations are made and the store takes shape. At last, the building is up and they’re hiring staffers. Grove tells all the heads the rules: no flirting, no relationships, no married shopgirls. Choose wisely, be picky, nobody too humble.

Agnes, wearing her red gloves, steels herself and knocks on the door of Harry’s home. When the butler appears she says she’s there to see Harry about a job and that the address on his card was for the house. Oh? But he had offices back then, so why didn’t he have his office address on cards he was giving out to people? How strange. Unless he was hoping she’d show up for a different type of job. The butler reluctantly admits her, asks her to wait, and goes to see if Harry’s home.

Harry emerges from his study and clearly doesn’t recognise her at all. She jogs his memory, showing him the gloves, and it all comes back to him. She tells him she was fired from Gamages for helping him. He apologises sincerely and she says she’d much rather come work for him anyway, admitting she’s had a lot of trouble finding decent work. He agrees to take her on, since he feels responsible for her predicament, and he tells her to report to the store at 9 am sharp. He also pays for her cab home. What a gentleman!

The many, many job applicants are being measured (those too tall are rejected). A rather cute guy makes it through and finds himself standing beside Agnes. He strikes up a conversation and, when her name’s called, wishes her luck. Agnes starts her interview with the accessories head, who asks for her references and gets ready to reject her when she says she has none. Agnes says she was asked there by Harry and AH checks it out with Grove, who tells her Agnes is going to start as a senior assistant in accessories. Score! As she walks out, a catty pair check her out and comment that there doesn’t seem to be anything special about her.

In sweep the quartet of lift girls, whom Harry wants to inspect personally. Of course he does. They rather creepily all talk in unison as they greet him, tell him how much they love the uniforms, and recite the departments on the first floor.

The new staffers flood into the shop, stop to gawk for a bit and point and whisper ridiculously, like this is a high school production of Hello, Dolly and everyone’s been told to just ‘look excited!’ The department heads tell everyone to pull themselves together and get to work, because they open in a week. Grove pulls the accessories head, Miss Mardle, aside and asks her to tell him if Agnes doesn’t work out, because they can easily replace her. He does this seemingly just in Agnes’s earshot. Mardle wanders over to her and starts schooling her on glove arrangement and how important accessories is. She’s surprised that Agnes has been started at such a high position but can see that she makes an effort at presenting herself well. She just hopes it won’t go to Agnes’s head. Agnes promises that it won’t. Miss M says, rather nicely, that she’ll be watching Agnes closely. Those two catty bitches from earlier sniff and bitch about Agnes, whom they hate already for no actual reason.

The editing gets pretty strange here as we see people scurrying about in fast-forward, getting the store set up, as the camera swivels past them and focuses on Ellen, coming through the door in slow motion. And then it goes from strange to laugh-out-loud stupid as the catty bitches literally fall all over themselves, running in slow-motion and grabbing for Ellen like it’s 1962 and she’s a member of The Beatles. Seriously, I can’t convey how embarrassingly bad this moment is. CB1 begs for an autograph on a photo of Ellen that she just happens to have on her and Ellen obliges before asking for someone to take her up to Harry’s office. Agnes leaps forward and conducts Ellen to the nearest lift. After a moment, Ellen recognises the lift operator, who reminds her that they were in a show together. Ellen remembers the girl’s name and everything, which is really sweet, considering she’s the star and this girl was just in the chorus. They arrive at their floor and Ellen compliments the girl’s diction before stepping off. As they walk to Harry’s office, Ellen asks Agnes what he’s like. Agnes says he’s very particular, but very kind. Ellen says she’ll tell him Agnes said that and Agnes begs her not to say anything, because she doesn’t want Harry thinking she’s talking about him. Ellen laughs and says he’ll love it, because most men do.

She heads into his office and perches on the edge of the desk, since he has no chair for visitors. He gets right to it: he wants her to be the face of Selfridge’s. She tells him she won’t be giving up the stage and delicately asks about pay. He promises she’ll be paid handsomely. She says it sounds fun and accepts, telling him he knows just where to find her when he needs her.

The Catty Bitches ask Agnes, or ‘Aggie’ as one calls her, what Ellen was like. They also make fun of her name, saying Aggie sounds like a scullery maid’s name. Agnes says she doesn’t care, and that CB1’s name, Kitty, was the same she used for her cat. For some reason, that’s seen as some sort of burn, but I think it just shows that Agnes has no imagination whatsoever.

Henri arrives at accessories and tells Mardle—who’s acting like a gibbering idiot around him—that he needs something for one of the mannequins in a window to hold in her lap. He’s not sure what it should be. As the scene is in a garden, Agnes oh-so-brilliantly suggests a silk rose. He couldn’t have come up with that? In a garden scene? I thought he was supposed to be the best window dresser in the world. He agrees to think about it and leaves.

Rose is chilling with her mother-in-law. In comes the butler to tell them Harry telephoned to say he wouldn’t be home for dinner that night. After he goes, she sadly observes that’s the third time in a week. Her MIL cheerfully says it gives them a chance to chat, just the girls, as it’s hard to get a word in edgewise when Harry’s there.

Harry is not spending his evening at the store, as you might think, but at Ellen’s show. She notes him sitting in the box nearest the stage and smiles up at him.

On her way out the door, Agnes is waylaid by that cute guy she met when she was interviewing. He’s got a job as a waiter in the Palm Court restaurant and offers to show it to her. She hesitates, afraid of being caught, but he pushes, and she gives, because that’s her way.

Upstairs, she marvels at the restaurant and he shows her to a table and offers her sherry. She resists for five seconds, he pushes…you know the drill by now. On a completely unrelated note, I hope she buys a new hat with her first paycheque, because the one she’s wearing now—with this awful fluffy feather that bobs around whenever she moves—is both ugly and distracting. He tells her he’s going to open a place like the Palm Court someday and asks what her dream of dreams is. She has no idea. I was right, she has no imagination. He urges her to dream big, reminding her that Selfridge started out selling newspapers (true) and look where he is now! She tells him she’d like to be a window dresser someday. He’s convinced she’ll do it, because he’s sure she’s a bit special, despite the fact that he doesn’t even know her and she’s shown no special talents so far. He’s just trying to get into her pants. She gets up to leave, because she has someone waiting for her, and he walks out with her.

Of course, the rather emotionally unbalanced guy she lives with is waiting just outside the door to the shop, ready to completely flip out over the fact that she’s late, and who’s this guy she’s with, anyway? We finally get a name for the cute waiter—Victor Colleano, who introduces himself very pleasantly considering how hysterical the other guy is acting. The other guy—George, I believe, continues to scream like a toddler, and Victor tells him to just chill out. George lunges at him and Victor lays him out with a punch to the face and tells Agnes she can do better. Agnes rushes to George’s side and explains that he’s her brother. Of course he is, because otherwise we might have a slightly interesting storyline for Agnes, whereby she has to hide a husband or something to avoid getting fired. Agnes urges George to calm down and asks him what’s gotten him so upset. He tearfully tells her that someone whose name I can’t make out at all has tracked them down. She looks up at Victor in alarm, then helps George to his feet so they can shuffle off home.

Henri is putting the finishing touches on the windows, which are all curtained off to hide them from the view of passersby. He picks up a silk flower, climbs up on a ladder to tuck it into a garland, and somehow manages to set off the sprinkler system. He stands and watches it ruin the window displays, smoking nonchalantly. French, you know.

Later, workmen are mopping up the mess while Henri continues to smoke nonchalantly and Selfridge shows his first real glimpses of rage while Grove explains that this new sprinkler system is complicated, so there are bound to be some ‘teething problems.’ Harry’s not ok with teething problems of any sort, particularly not the night before they open the store, and he tells Grove it’s not acceptable before asking Henri if this can be fixed. ‘Impossible,’ says Henri, but after a moment he adds, ‘but we’ve done the impossible before.’ Crabb gets his two cents in, telling Harry that, if the sprinklers go off inside the store the insurance company won’t cover them, because the system’s untested. I don’t really understand what they’re saying here—they won’t cover them if the system actually works? What kind of insurance company is this? Crabb, being English, stresses about all these pesky innovations, because as we all know, England has never been a land of innovation. No, no, bucket brigades have served everyone perfectly well since the Great Fire, right? I’d like to point out that the first ever sprinkler system was installed in the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1812, and that automatic sprinkler systems had been in use since the 1870s, so this wasn’t actually new technology at all. Harry takes a moment to calm down, then tells his secretary to call the staffers and get them back to the store while Crabb calls the insurance company and gets them to do what they’re supposed to do.

The staffers have all assembled (lucky they all had telephones, it seems, unless Miss Blenkensop sent runners or something). Harry addresses them—man, there are a lot of them—and tells them how proud he is that they’ve risen to the challenge, and now he needs them all to pull together to create the finest store the world has ever seen. They applaud sycophantically at the end of his every sentence.

And now it seems we’re back to where we started, with Selfridge going through the store and urging more, more, MORE! He tells Agnes her display’s a little too tidy, and he wants it mussed a bit so the customers aren’t afraid to touch the goods. He adds that he has high hopes for Agnes, for some reason. Upstairs, the woman in charge of fashion is panicking over a dress that doesn’t fit the mannequin. She sends one of the Catty Bitches (Doris, apparently), to get some thread so they can stitch it on. Riveting drama.

Meanwhile, a lovely fur coat arrives at Ellen’s dressing room. She tries it on while a friend of hers ooohs and ahhhs. Ellen tells her this is her ticket out of there. Uh oh, Harry.

Harry steps out of the store and breathes a sigh of relief. As he walks home, he notices Agnes staring at the only window display that’s had its curtains lifted. It’s the garden scene, with her silk flower in it. She’s so very proud. Harry joins her and they smile in mutual pride before she bids him goodnight and dashes for the tube. She just misses the lift but does not miss the sight of Grove and Mardle giggling and holding hands inside. They see her and spring apart, alarmed. Too late. Oh dear.

At home,  Harry looks out the window at snow beginning to fall as his wife plays the piano. Harry worries about the weather, though his mother doubts people will let a little snow put them off the shopping frenzy, and Rose reassures him it’ll be gone by the morning.

The following morning, Harry straightens his tie, shoots his cuffs, and consults his watch while, outside, a huge crowd gathers, just salivating to get in there and start spending. At precisely 9 am, the doors open and they pour in, gasping in wonder while Harry, his family, and Crabb look on from an upper floor. Lady Mae and Edwards make an appearance, along with some stuffed shirt who I think is Harry’s partner in all this. I don’t quite recognise him without the shotgun and tweeds. Mae tells Harry she and SS are so pleased with what he’s done with ‘our store’ and reassures him that all her lovely friends will be coming in, and he shouldn’t be shy about urging them to buy something. Harry Cheshire cat smiles and thanks her. As she sweeps off, Harry spots Ellen introducing herself to Rose. Ellen cheerfully tells Mrs Selfridge that she’s the new face of the store, and Rose briefly gets an, ‘Oh, I see,’ look on her face. Thankfully, Edwards comes over and starts speaking to Ellen, allowing Rose to escape, but not before casting her eye back on Ellen several times.

Crabb busily adds up the numbers, as the music gets really excited.

Rose exits the store and is joined by Harry. The two smile at each other, and then Harry spots Crabb nearby and comments that it was a great day. ‘As a spectacle, Mr Selfridge,’ says Crabb the killjoy. Harry kind of rolls his eyes and bids Crabb goodnight before heading home with his wife.

Ok. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot (though, after I saw Davies’s name in the credits, I was expecting a bit more), but this isn’t doing much for me so far. There are some slightly intriguing characters (Lady Mae, I have to admit, is rather fun to watch, but I think that’s mostly down to the actress playing her, who’s clearly relishing the role), but Harry’s kind of a cartoon, which is a problem. Yes, the real Selfridge was a big showman, but all his arm-waving and crazy smiling is a little odd. And Agnes is bland as hell. I hope she isn’t going to start becoming a major focus of the show, but I know she is, that that makes me a little sad. There is definitely one thing going for it, though: the costumes are absolutely fabulous. This was a particularly gorgeous period, fashion-wise, and they’re really doing a bang-up job showcasing that. We just need to dump Agnes’s hat.

We’ve got nine weeks to go, so maybe it’ll improve. Fingers crossed—we’ll have to see.



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