Tuesday, January 31, 2017
When the Sunday night time slot on Masterpiece PBS was sans Downton Abbey, a gem was lost. First promotions tried to push Mercy Street as a “replacement” (an unfair comparison if ever there was), and then 2017 arrived and with it, British TV’s latest crown jewel, Victoria.
TV SERIES REVIEW | The Living and the Dead (2016) – BBC’s Haunting Thriller Set in the 1800s English Countryside
Unfortunately, Conroy underestimates Victoria and soon must face the reality that Victoria is no wilting violet. She refuses to let anyone dictate her rule, not even the whispers that soon she must marry sway her. The only man she trusts is her loyal adviser, Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell), a man she quickly loses her heart to. And then a man who doesn’t smile, but makes Victoria a better person walks into her life. His name is Albert (Tom Hughes)…
Each of the period drama productions I’ve seen from the likes of BBC or ITV are the kind of story telling one can only dream of writing. Added to their vault of brilliance is Victoria. It’s another captivating series that while special because of its relationship to actual history (fact over pure fiction) will touch many viewers. That said, as everything does, it does suffer some flaws.
Chiefly among them is the fact that, while many won’t notice or mind, for others this has formatted itself “too much” in the image of Downton Abbey. I fall into one of the former camps, but I can also fairly point out the stumbles. The fact that this script writes an “upstairs and downstairs” timeline is, perhaps, one of them. It helps that I adore all of the “downstairs” characters. The alternative stories are charming and altogether a new concept for this story. Despite the obvious throwback to the Fellowes saga (Downton Abbey), I respect, admire and appreciate the story, and furthermore “the how” of Daisy Goodwin’s scripts.
What might most raise eyebrows is the alternative romance that captures the audience. Instead of the icon that is Victoria and Albert, before him, Goodwin offers Lord Melbourne as an option. While wildly contrary to history, I’ll confess this idea of Victoria falling for her trusted adviser a little swoony. Most especially with Rufus Sewell in the role. The “Rook Scene” is sure to shatter your heart in a million pieces, and whether you like the romance between Victoria and Melbourne or not, it’s remarkably well written and portrayed. (Plus this has the benefit of history urging you not to invest too emotionally.) The chemistry between Jenna and Rufus works really well and I adore what they have while it lasts. The genuine feelings they have for one another is what good character writing is all about.
From the top of the show pyramid to the tip of least importance, Victoria is gold. The acting (hello suave leading man Tom Hughes!), to the costumes and sets, Masterpiece again crowns itself, which is, a gem at the heart of its mantle. ♥