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After five-season run, ‘Poldark’ fades to black

Eleanor Tomlinson and Aidan Turner star in "Poldark."Robert Viglasky/Mammoth Screen for MASTERPIECE

Ah “Poldark,” I’ll surely miss ye. ‘Tis sad to say farewell.

The “Masterpiece” series finishes up its five-season run on Sunday at 9 p.m. on WGBH 2, as Ross and Demelza gallop their last scenic seaside gallop and the poor, dirty miners survive their last disaster so they can hoist their last brewskis in the pub. Farewell to Ross’s topless fieldwork scenes, farewell to Demelza’s preternaturally red mane, farewell to George’s unsubtle scowl, farewell to Prudie and the many urgent messages she carries.

Since PBS and the BBC rebooted the 1970s series, based on the novels by Winston Graham, I have been a loyal viewer. “Poldark” is one of my comfort-food shows, an easy, pretty, and transporting escape to a time and place, the 18th century, where everything was simpler — or, thanks to the writers, everything seemed simpler. It’s like watching an old Saturday afternoon adventure matinee from the 1950s, but with sex scenes. Also, better cinematography and breathtaking cliffs for days.

The show is at the opposite end of the TV drama spectrum from most of the series I love, such as “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad.” Rather than blur the lines between good and evil, to give us a morally gray area and challenge us as viewers, “Poldark” is split clearly between the good guys and the villains. Morally, it is black and white, despite all the atmospheric fog. The good guys generally win, as does love. Playing Ross, Aidan Turner (who is Irish, by the way) managed to make all the incessant heroism better than tolerable. And he can brood with the best of them.


I have embraced the show despite its weaknesses, or perhaps because of them. And so to process my grief at this loss, I am participating in a WGBH aftershow called “Drama After Dark” on Sunday. It will start immediately after the finale, streaming live on WGBH’s Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.