Friday, November 22, 2013

Quick Look: "Reign"

The CW network has (for some time) been building a niche for themselves in cheesy, overly dramatic, teen-focused TV.  That after several shaky seasons they've finally hit their stride in that area should come as no surprise.  They have a juggernaut in The Vampire Diaries and with its spin off The Originals doing reasonably well (along with old favourites Supernatural and America's Next Top Model), the network now has several big hits on their hands (even The Carrie Diaries has been by all accounts doing better than expected).

Enter Reign, the overly romantic, not-period accurate story of young Mary Queen of Scots, cousin to the famed Elizabeth I and betrothed to Francis II, future King of France.  The story begins with Mary's return to French court following a long period of hiding at a French convent to keep her safe (the English have been plotting against her life since she was a child).  Returning to French court is hard on Mary, who has not seen Francis since she was six and doesn't understand the political landcape (though she feels keenly the peril of her beloved Scotland, constantly under thread from English aggression).  It is now up to Mary to secure her marriage to Francis and cement the aliance between France and Scotland to save her people.

A few things have been done here to make Reign play with the intended audience and to be honest I do think they were the right choices:
  • Mary and Francis (who were actually 15 when they married) are 17/18 years old here
  • The outfitting speaks to the "feeling" of decadence and sexiness rather than what would have been considered cutting edge fashion at the time.  This gets the point across in a relateable way.
  • Any music we are meant to concentrate on is somewhat traditional (eg. party music during a dance scene) but the soundtrack of the show (background music) is contemporary music that seems to fit reasonably well into the fabric of the world they've created.
The show also doesn't worry too much about the actual history, at one point even killing off a character who would have been reasonably well known and simply concluding the events by having one of the characters confirm that, "We shall all forget this regrettable event, perhaps even history." How clever.

The rules of propriety that surround the period have thus far kept the show from getting TOO sexy but I imagine that will only last so long.  This plays a little like Gossip Girl: Medieval Edition so if you think you might be into that then give it a try.  Reign airs Thursdays on the CW (US) and CTV Two in Canada.

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