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BBC/Warner / 2356 Minutes / 2008-2011 / Unrated / Street Date: April 5, 2011
Call it Little House on the Prairie only with teacups instead of overalls: Lark Rise to Candleford is about the past, present and future at a time when all three seem distant and confusing. In the world of this hit series, we have one town that is quite happy (thank you very much) doing things the old-fashioned way, a neighboring town ready to embrace all the newness and commodity that the modern age brings, and set of characters trapped in the vortex between them.
As the series begins, we see Laura Timmins (Olivia Hallinan) as the pawn between Lark Rise (sleepy rural village) and Candleford (bustling town) - she leaves one for the other, and somehow this seemingly simple act of a young girl moving to a new, exciting place becomes an avalanche for drama, intrigue, gossip and town scandal. Who knew working at a Candleford post office could be so juicy?
Somehow Lark Rise to Candleford ends up being more than just a fish-out-of-water excuse to build some great old-timey sets and design a sea of period costumes. I would imagine that anyone who has ever experienced a country vs. city conundrum will find the exploits of this now-cancelled series to be engaging at the very least and impressively poignant in parts.
But even though there's a tractor beam addiction factor to Lark Rise to Candleford, it is, after all, TV melodrama, and in that capacity the show is hit and miss. The look and feel of the series is consistently inviting and transporting (watch more than two episodes in a row and you'll be reaching for your monocle), but the series often dips into histrionic, over-the-top pandering that is sometimes forgivable yet frequently distracting.