Mr Selfridge Episode Three: Jeremy Piven and Zoe Tapper continue to annoy as Harry introduces a new fragrance to the store

by Matt D

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I think one of the things that has annoyed me up to now about Mr Selfridge is that it doesn’t really appear as if it’s going anywhere, and that the majority of the stories are confined to just one episode. Even the continuing plots, such as Harry’s continued affair with the dreadful Ellen Love and his wife’s fascination with the roguish painter Roddy aren’t that interesting. In fact, and I know I’ve said it before, the only real reason for watching the show is the brilliant Aisling Loftus but even she’s absent for the first half of the episode after her drunken father Nick Moran punches her in the face.

Last week we heard that Harry has now moved Ellen into her own flat where she provides him with a private show while in public she also flirts with him mercilessly. One of Ellen’s visits to the store, in which she dances with Harry, is witnessed by his mother who tries to dissuade him from airing his affairs in public.

Meanwhile, back at home, Rose has remembered she and Harry have some children squirreled away in that massive house of theirs and the oldest Rosalie wants to present herself into public so Rose goes to Lady Mae to ask for support. Obviously the devious Mae, who is played with delight by Katherine Kelly, once again tries to engage Rose in talk of Harry’s affair however Rose insinuates that Harry has had affairs before and she has just ignored them…

While Mae warns Rose not to underestimate Ellen she also has problems of her own as her young lover Tony loses a lot of money in a poker game with Harry and now she wants revenge. She finally calls in her favour to Harry and tells her she wants him to actively support the suffragette cause by stocking their sashes in the store and by allowing them to have their weekly meetings in the Selfridges restaurant. At the same time, Harry realises that Ellen isn’t all she’s cracked up to be, especially after he sees the poses she’s chosen herself for the new batch of photos taken by Leclair. The end of the episode sees him rush home to be with his family only to discover that Rose isn’t home and, unbeknownst to him, is actually having her portrait painted by that roguish young artist chappy from last week.

Jeremy Piven as Harry Selfridge.

Though he has a lot of personal issues to deal with, Selfridge is still hung up on trying to make his store better, and this week decides to create a counter for lady’s perfume at the front of the store. Despite some objections from the female members of staff, and Mr Crabb whose wife wouldn’t like the idea, he also announces that make-up will move from the pharmacy and in broad daylight so customers will be able to see lipstick when they walk into Selfridges. As well as stocking the regular scents, Harry also wants to create Selfridges own in-store perfume and tasks Leclair with making a new concoction that the ordinary woman would buy. Ellen is horrified that she would be the face of an affordable scent and, after seeing the aforementioned photos of her, Harry agrees to use a different picture that Leclair has been working on. This picture is based on Agnes, who is back after a day nursing that horrible black eye, who has been assisting Leclair on the perfect scent to sell to regular girls just like herself. As we see Agnes and Leclair spending more time together it is clear that he sees potential in her while she is drawn to him and his jealous of the French hussy who arrives from New York to hook up with him. Jealousy is a recurring theme this week as we see Victor cast out into the cold as is he forced to watch Agnes and Leclair spend more time together however he may have more to worry about after he catches the eye of Lady Mae.

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After a promising start, Mr Selfridge is really starting to grate on me now which is mainly down to the awful affair between Harry and Ellen both of whom are characters who it is hard to warm to. Though Harry cares deep down about his wife, he still finds time to cheat on her and get private dances from a showgirl while at the same time throwing his weight around at work. Ellen is also a damaged soul, we see her snorting cocaine in this episode, however that doesn’t stop her from being increasingly annoying as she feels that she now has Harry wrapped around her little finger. While I’ve made comment in the past about Piven’s over-the-top performance, I also feel that Zoe Tapper is trying far too hard to make Ellen this larger-than-life showgirl. I really don’t feel that Tapper demonstrates any attributes of a girl who has come from nothing and is trying to better herself, so in turn, I find it hard to sympathise with her when she begins to abuse drugs. The fact that Harry seems to be going off Ellen means that we’ll gradually see less of her, and hopefully he’ll begin to see how good he’s got it with his lovely wife and almost invisible children before the former runs into the arms of the charming Roddy. On the plus side, the second half of the episode was dominated by the lovely Agnes, with Aisling Loftus still being the best thing in Mr Selfridge by a country mile, as well as Lady Mae who got a bit more to do this week rather than just making snide comments every so often. Agnes’ ambition to be a window dresser is the plot that I’m most interested in however this week not much was seen of her father after that initial attack however that was all it really took to demonstrate how dangerous he was.

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Ultimately this was another patchy episode of Mr Selfridge which continues to charm and frustrate in equal measure due to the majority of the stories not really going anywhere. Though I am interested in Agnes’ continuing quest to get out from behind the accessories counter I really don’t care about either of the Selfridges and their respective affairs. The performances range from impressive to just plain annoying, with Tapper and Piven both in the latter category and to an extent I feel they’re both dragging down the overall quality of the show. The fact that Harry has now realised that he should be his wife may make next week’s instalment a little bit more bearable, however I’m not sure if I have enough patience to tune in and find out.

What did you think to this week’s Mr Selfridge? Did you find it as annoying as I did? Leave Your Comments Below.


  1. Fay on January 21, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    I find Jeremy Piven extemely annoying and I am sure that his teeth go whiter every week. He seems to put so much energy into his acting which leads you to believe that something big is going to happen and it never does. I have to say though I like Zoe Tapper. I think she is delightful and plays her part well. Aisling Loftus makes me just want to give her a shove she seems so gormless. As for Katherine Kelly all she really does is say a few sarcastic things in that terribly posh voice and does not really do any acting. I have been waiting for something to happen but I don’t think it will. I will be going out next Sunday night and don’t care if I miss it. It is not exactly Downton.

  2. kelly on January 28, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    All I can say is bring back Downton Abbey. Thought that this would be a great period drama fix while we are still waiting for Downton Abbey to start again, but I too am beginning to find Jeremy Piven’s OTT, headache-inducing performances are becoming a tad annoying. Though the actress who plays Agnes does somewhat save the show.

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