Lark Rise to Candleford is one of BBC's best kept secrets. I only found out about it on Black Friday when Amazon had it for 75% off. I bought it based on the rave reviews and I'm so glad I did. Every tea-sipping, book-loving anglophile should see this series.
Postmistress Dorcas Lane is the central figure in the town of Candleford. Not the "big city" by any standard, it is still considered "uppity" by the villagers of nearby Lark Rise. The series highlights the conflicts between the townspeople from both places.
If you are used to fast paced dramas, this will seem, oh, so slow, but if you are patient, you will gradually learn to love each and every character in the show: the slow-witted Twister, bee-keeping Queenie, impressionable Laura, surly Mr. Timmins, the feckless Mrs. Arless and many more.
Although the scenery is idyllic and the costumes and filming provide a visual feast, this is no sugar-coated fairy tale. Yes, the villains are "light" by today's standards, but the conflicts in the stories don't come from outside influences as much as they come from people's inward struggles with pride, insecurity, fear, etc. In short, the characters are delightful, but full of very human flaws.
The themes and dialogue are superior in every way to the drivel on television. Family, marriage, children, honesty, hard work, and forgiveness are just a few of the themes covered in seasons One and Two. (We have all four, but are only half way through.)
If you enjoy BBC productions, you'll recognize Brendan Coyle as Mr. Timmins (Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey), Julia Sawalha as Dorcas Lane (the silly sister in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice) and Claudie Blakely as Mrs. Timmins (Elizabeth Bennet's plain friend in the 2005 version of P & P). Blakely is amazing in this role and has become my favorite female television character of all time because of it. The Timmin's marriage is a highlight of the series because it provides a wonderful look at two very different, imperfect people who are committed to love each other "till death us do part."
I could quibble about some of the imperfections of this production (mainly that the one professing Christian is a dolt), but, honestly, my husband and I have never laughed and cheered our way through any series, as much as this one. Highly, highly recommended.