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Period drama 'Mr. Selfridge' starring Jeremy Piven debuts second season on PBS

Jeremy Piven as Mr. Selfridge in Mr. Selfridge season two premiere on PBS on Masterpiece.
Jeremy Piven as Mr. Selfridge in Mr. Selfridge season two premiere on PBS on Masterpiece.

The second season of "Mr. Selfridge" premiered on PBS on March 30, 2014. The period drama stars Emmy winner Jeremy Piven ("Entourage") in the role of Harry Selfridge, the real life grandiose entrepreneur who took London by storm and changed the face of retail. "Mr. Selfridge" is airing ten new episodes on Sunday nights (9 p.m. ET), following new episodes of "Call the Midwife." Call the Midwife premieres third season on PBS

The first season of the series opened in 1909, when Mr. Selfridge (Piven), a man with big dreams, opens a store the likes of which London had never seen. Selfridge was a self-made American entrepreneur, who was born in humble circumstances in rural Wisconsin and went on to success at Marshall Field's Department Store in Chicago before relocating to London.

The second season picks up in 1914, as the staff scurries about making everything perfect for the store's fifth anniversary celebration. Harry Selfridge is touched when the staff surprises him with a party, showing their appreciation for the man who gives them employment in the popular department store.

The fifth anniversary of Selfridge's is big news in London and Harry is besieged with interviewers. Selfridge admitted to reporter, humility mixed with pride, “We’re not the biggest attraction in town. We’re the third biggest behind Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London.”

World War I is imminent, which will play a big role for the lives of everyone at Selfridge’s will be affected in upcoming episodes.

Selfridge (Piven) is pleasantly surprised when his estranged wife Rose (Frances O'Connor) visits from Chicago. Selfridge is paying the price for his infidelities because Rose holds him at arms length, refusing to trust him again, even as looks at adoringly. It does not take long for Rose to see one of her husband's mistresses charging clothes to his store account. She sighs to her new friend, novelist Delphine Day (Polly Walker), that nothing has changed.

Miss Agnes Towler (Aisling Loftus) returns to the store to take a responsible new position as head of the display department. Agnes thanks Selfridge for sending her to Paris for training. Almost immediately, Agnes runs into conflict and resentment from other senior staff, particularly Mr. Thackeray (Cal Macaninch), the prissy head of the fashion department.

Miss Towler is put in charge of a display in the fashion department for a book reading by Delphine Day, a rather scandalous woman who has written about her exploits and lovers. The display is lavish setting for Delphine to read her memoirs to a crowd of women, who may be on the brink of rethinking their roles as women in the Edwardian age.

Lady Mae (Katherine Kelly) is about to have a change in cirumstances because her is evil husband, Lord Loxley (Aidan McArdle), returns home after a long absense. His first act is to take her to Selfridge's to humiliate her and insult Harry by cutting off her account and announce that he refuses to pay the outstanding balance. Later, Lord Loxley tries to make amends because he sees that Selfridge could be a valuable ally, but Harry rejects his advances and turns the tables on the pompous man who may be a Lord, but is not a gentleman.

Selfridge holds a colorful party at Delphine's, hoping to raise morale with the employees, who have started murmuring that Selfridge could leave London and return to Chicago, leaving them jobless. Unions are trying to get the employees to unionize.

Gordon Selfridge, Harry and Rose's 15 year old son, has decided to start working at the store his will someday inherit. Harry has him start at the bottom, in the stocking department. Gordon secretly attends a union meeting, where the employees discover that they already have the benefits that the union organizer is promoting. When the organizer insults his father, Gordon comes out swinging and gets beat up in the bargain.

Meanwhile, at Delphine's party, Mr. Grove (Tom Goodman-Hill) gets drunk and confesses to Mr. Crabb (Ron Cook) that his life is chaos and that he does not get enough sleep. Mr. Grove wanted children, which is why he threw over his one-time lover and married a younger woman. Now the store manager has three children under five, with a fourth on the way, which is overwhelming.

Rose discovers Henri Leclair (Gregory Fitoussi) in dire circumstances and urges him to let his former friend, Harry, help him. Her plan backfires, because Henri rejects her overtures. Later, Delphine asks Rose whatever happened with her French friend in front of Harry, who is furious that she kept her knowledge a secret. Did Delphine let the secret slip intentionally to insert a wedge between Rose and Harry, who were bonding over a snack of snails?

The returning cast of "Mr. Selfridge" includes: Jeremy Piven as Mr. Selfridge, Frances O’Connor as his wife Rose, Aisling Loftus as Agnes Towler, Katherine Kelly as Lady Mae, Grégory Fitoussi as Henri Leclair,, Trystan Gravelle as Victor Colleano, Amanda Abbington as Miss Mardle, Tom Goodman-Hill as Roger Grove, and Ron Cook as Mr. Crabb. Additions to the ensemble include Polly Walker ("John Carter") as Delphine Day, Cal Macaninch ("Warriors," "Wild at Heart") as Mr Thackeray and Aidan McArdle ("Jane Eyre," "Einstein’s Big Idea") as Lord Loxley.

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