October 22, 2013

Reign: "Pilot" Review

I suppose it's time I post a review of Reign, a show I was looking forward to for awhile. Last week's premiere did not disappoint, although I did feel like I'd seen most of it already in the previews and promos. (That's my own fault though, right?)

Let's start off by getting some numerical facts straight. The year is 1557. That makes our heroine just 15 years old. Hunky prophet Nostradamus is actually 54, and the young (yet bearded) Prince Francis is 13.

Rather inappropriate dancing for ladies of the Court.
Source: cwtv.com
I got all that from wikipedia, so it may not be accurate. Of course, accuracy is a moot point with CW's Reign. The pilot episode of this new show was full of anachronisms. Clearly, the ages of the historical figures have been blurred a bit for the sake of the show's plot. And I know it's set in France, but even there, ladies of the 16th century didn't wear sleeveless dresses. Nor did they style their hair in beachy waves. And the love triangle - er, quadrangle - that's been set up between Mary, Francis, his brother Sebastian ("Bash"), and Francis's girlfriend/mistress/whatever will make for quite the romantic intrigue, despite the fact that it's entirely fictional. And that's not even the soapiest aspect of the pilot's story. One of Mary's ladies-in-waiting (in the completely out of place strapless dress) has begun an affair with the king. Because that won't lead to trouble with his wife. Or his mistress.

Star-crossed lovers?
Source: pinterest.com/thecw
Adelaide Kane captures Mary's doe-eyed naiveté quite well. While Mary's innocence makes her somewhat one-dimensional (for now, anyway), the character of Francis already seems complex. He's clearly torn between his desires and his responsibilities. And to make things more complicated, it seems he doesn't even know what his true desires are.

The pilot episode very neatly foreshadowed coming disaster. I lost count of the omens and harbingers of doom - i.e., "don't go into the forest," "don't drink the wine," "there are ghosts there," "she will cost Francis his life," "this was an assassination attempt." And I don't think that's even half of them. This drama will have very little - if any - of the comedic flair of the more popular CW shows. That's ok, though, as long as it continues down the intriguing path it's started.

I had no doubt that Megan Follows would blow us away, but I didn't have any idea just how villianous the Queen would be. Getting your son's fiancĂ©'s lady-in-waiting's boyfriend to roofie the future queen in order to ruin her reputation and thus secure your son's political future is wicked. Beheading said boyfriend when he fails is diabolical. And Follows delivered the treacherous performance seamlessly. I can't wait to see what she does next.

One final note: I'd keep watching this show just for the music. I'm miffed that I can't seem to find a downloadable version of The Lumineers "Scotland," which was the perfect opening number for the pilot.

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