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A British drama about a Family Business of Intrepid Merchants in the Victorian era. It begins with the disgruntled Captain James Onedin setting himself up as an independent businessman. He finds that an old ship is for sail which no one will buy. Upon exploring, he learns that the ship is owned by a dissolute former naval officer, who is being tended by his middle-aged daughter, Anne. James has no money of his own but offers to pay in shares. The daughter notes that if her father dies, the shares would revert to James, because women cannot inherit according to the laws of the time. She therefore insists on a marriage of expediency to seal the deal because, after all, it is a "not uncommon arrangement". Whereupon James, appreciating a business canniness to match his own, begins to fall in love. The two marry and begin their effort to become a lord and lady of the seas.

This show can be found on DVD. All eight seasons are available as Dutch imports, uncut versions of seasons 1 to 3 have recently been released by 2entertain. The show deals with such things as empire building, intrigue, romance and, of course, seafaring in an attractively prissy Victorian way. One can actually believe that the characters lived in the late 19th century.

This series provides examples of:

  • Adventure Duo: The Onedins, in a laid-back sort of way
  • Apron Matron: Mrs Onedin. She is the most admirable character of the show.
  • Asshole Victim: Bucko Roberts in series 1. Whether he was murdered or not is disputed, but he was certainly an asshole.
  • Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other: Mr and Mrs Onedin, though they would never show it in public.
  • Badass Family: The Onedins.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Daniel and Elizabeth, particularly in later seasons. When they're both married. To other people.
  • Berserk Button: Daniel Fogarty really, really doesn't like it when someone insults Elizabeth.
  • The Captain: James.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: James, when in a particularly smug mood.
  • The Consigliere : Anne Onedin.
  • Death by Childbirth: Anne.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: This is the 19th century, after all.
  • Determined Sea Captain's Wife: Mrs Onedin is like a Determined Homesteader's Wife with ships instead of a homestead. There actually were a number of women like her in Real Life, which makes Mrs Onedin a kind of tribute to them.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: A couple of times in various episodes. In one episode, James manages to recover the Anne Onedin from Frazer and Fogarty, forces them to beg him to carry their coal...and then the son of one of James's business associates gets eaten by a crocodile, ensuring that James loses his father's contract. More importantly, Anne's death comes at the end of an episode in which James wins an important race against Fogarty and runs upstairs to greet Anne and their new baby...and finds her dead.
  • Family Business
  • Father Neptune: Onedin's first mate. And James Onedin himself.
  • Feuding Families: They have this with rival shippers in a business rather than a violent way.
  • Good with Numbers: Both Onedins.
  • Guile Hero: James.
  • Happily Married: The Onedins, in a quirky sort of way.
  • Heir Club for Men: James is determined to have a son and heir to the Onedin Line. He's not thrilled about his daughter, but that's at least partially down to the circumstances of her birth.
  • The Ingenue: Leonora.
  • Intrepid Merchant
  • Iron Lady: No one had better mess with Mrs Onedin.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Both Onedins. Mrs Onedin shows her heart of gold more often.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Anne has a lot of difficulty trying to get pregnant.
  • Manipulative Bastard: James James James James James.
  • Meaningful Name: "Onedin" is a transposition of "Ondine", a water spirit.
  • My Girl Back Home: Anne Onedin sometimes goes to sea with James and sometimes stays home to mind the store. James' rather exasperating sister also fits this.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Daniel Fogarty gets very angry when anyone impugns Elizabeth's chastity. In this case it's partly because Elizabeth does have a more complicated sexual history than most of her female contemporaries.
  • Non-Idle Rich: The Frazers, among others. The main story is about the Onedins struggle to become and maintain this.
  • Oh Crap: Lots, like the moment when James bursts into Anne's room only to find her dead. One lesser example is when Leonora Biddulph, anxious to defend her chastity, tells Daniel Fogarty, "We're not all like Mrs Frazer, you know!"
  • Operation: Jealousy: Leonora Biddulph tries this on James when she sees how annoyed he gets by Fogarty escorting her home. It doesn't really work, not least because Fogarty catches on and tells her to grow up. On the other hand, Elizabeth...
  • Parental Neglect: James can't even look at his baby daughter after Anne's death. While he doesn't abuse her, he doesn't pay much attention to her, either.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: "A not uncommon arrangement."
  • Plucky Middie: On at least one episode. The mercantile version is an "apprentice".
  • Proud Merchant Race: The English.
  • Rescue Romance: Leonora Biddulph would have liked very much for this to happen.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Elizabeth and Albert.
  • Shout-Out: The second episode is a Shout-Out to the exploits of Mary Ann Patten.
  • The Stoic: Both Onedins.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: In later seasons, Elizabeth and Daniel. Both their spouses are more or less permanently estranged.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Elizabeth.
  • Undying Loyalty: Mrs Onedin.
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men
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