The first episode sets a very bleak tone, which had led some people to label The Village a "misery-fest" on social networks. While the first episode is darker in tone than many Sunday night dramas, this description is unfair. I think it paints a plausibly more realistic view of country life that other recent period dramas. The characters are also much more rounded and complex than the first episode would lead you to believe.
The Village is impeccably acted by all concerned, and beautifully shot. All member's of the Middleton family are outstanding, with the young Bert a particular standout. Maxin Peake is wonderful. If you are willing to persevere, you will be rewarded. The later episodes go from strength to strength.
Being a period drama set in a similar period of British history, it is inevitable that this show got called the BBC's answer to Downton Abbey, but truthfully the shows couldn't more different. Downton has gone progressively down-hill in recent seasons, becoming more and more soapy. I see much more potential for The Village in both scope and storytelling as we move through the decades.
Peter Moffat has conceived the show as a UK version of German series Heimat with the story being told through the decades until the present day. I can't wait for season 2.