I remember hearing a bit about the CW’s new show ‘Reign’ when the fall network TV lineup was first announced. It sounded interesting if heavy for a station like the CW to take on. I soon discovered why they bothered; ‘Reign’, while focusing on the “life” of Mary, Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane), is mostly a fictional account of events. And not even at that general level a lot of other history based shows are. We’re talking about 85% fiction and I might be underestimating. It’s a fact that’s brought the show plenty of flack from historians as the show seems pointless when the only real aspects that ‘Reign’ has in common with actual events is, primarily, character names. Everything else is the result of the creators throwing in whatever the hell they think will attract viewers. It’s a shame the station didn’t decide to use this perfect opportunity to teach/reinforce history but, well, it is the CW? I’m not sure just how much we can expect from them in that regard.
‘Reign’, debuting tonight, wasn’t high on my “must watch” list for the aforementioned controversial reasons. But I got tricked into watching the first episode this past weekend at the CW’s New York Comic Con panel (I was initially there for ‘Beauty and the Beast’, holla!) and, to be fair, rather enjoyed it. The cast, naturally, is attractive and young, which is par for the course from our friends at WPIX. *Yes, I’m aware that I just dated myself. Move along.* In their quest to make the story of Queen Mary and Prince Francis (Toby Regbo) all the more hip, the audience is also treated to a stunning wardrobe, relatively modern language, and excellent musical scoring. There’s also a bit of scandalous sexy times and a brewing love triangle, oh, yeah.
Beautifully filmed, the visual effect certainly grabs one’s attention, helping to distract more discerning viewers from the occasional moment of ridiculousness. I mean, the first time Queen Catherine (played by my boo, Megan Follows) stalks over to some scruffily hot dude and goes, “Tell me what you’ve seen, Nostradamus”, I about pissed myself; It just sounded so silly and suddenly Nostradamus (Rossif Sutherland of THE Sutherlands) was a guy who could totally get it, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
At the beginning of the series, a teenage Mary Stuart is sent to the French court after residing in a nunnery since childhood. Her intended, Prince Francis, is attracted to her but isn’t sure he wants to put the proverbial ring on it. He’s basically content to continue sleeping with various courtiers until he figures it out. Meanwhile, a forbidden spark is born between Mary and Bash (Torrance Coombs), Francis’ bastard brother. *Listen, if you’re not already eating figurative popcorn at this point, there’s just no hope for you.*
Mary’s ladies-in-waiting have accompanied her to court, each with their own dramas and scandals as well e.g. hooking up with King Henry II of France (Alan Van Sprang). Yo. It was hot. Seriously. I think I’m gonna need to recreate that for shits ‘n’ giggles. And Queen Catherine gets the requisite court intrigue off to a roaring start by doing certain…THINGS (no spoilers) that are fucked up yet UNDERSTANDABLE. As a friend of mine stated, “It’s history meets ‘Gossip Girl’”. So long as you don’t take ‘Reign’ too seriously and simply enjoy it for what it is i.e. a pretty show with pretty people doing pretty “alternate universe” things, I think any fan of the ‘Tudors’, etc. will potentially dig it.
The panel, by the by, was a pleasure. The main cast showed up and enlightened us to the fact that they’re all very good friends, a situation they’re grateful for since they spend more time with each other than the rest of the cast does. This chemistry was evident both in the panel discussion and the premiere episode we were shown; It’s always nice to see a cast interacting off set. Now, I’d heard rumor that Adelaide was something of a bitch but I didn’t get that vibe from her at all. It’s possible that it’s her outspoken and slightly brash persona rubbing some people the wrong way? All it did was make me want to hang with her though. In fact, she’s officially on my crush list now so…ADELAIDE, I’M SINGLE. Bless her little soul for then deciding to school the panel moderator on the finer points of “shipping” as “ships”, aka favored romantic pairings, are the center of the show.
If you’re in the mood for some fun, eye candy, an extremely diet dose of history, and/or entertaining court intrigue, give the first episode of ‘Reign’ a try. If nothing else, at least there is costume porn!