Your fall season is busy. Your DVR is full. Do you really have room
in your heart/on your screen for one more show about attractive people in olden-times
frippery? Hell yes you do, and it is called Reign.
And it is both spookier and more entertaining than you can probably imagine. I've already screened the pilot, and I'm here to tell you what to expect.
What beith this
First off: As you may've heard, yes, this is the new fall series that features “Sexy Nostradamus.” Reign is an ambitious attempt by The CW to frame the epic reign of Mary, Queen of Scots as a soulful teenage drama in a similar vein as hit series The Vampire Diaries. The Scottish Queen was one of the most dramatic and controversial figures in her own day, and Reign picks up with her beginnings in the intrigue-filled royal court of France. The problem with Tudor-era history has always been that the genuinely compelling political and sexual power plays were enacted by royal persons who looked not unlike boiled potatoes trussed up like velveteen astronauts. Reign, like a teenage Tudors, solves this problem by casting exclusively hotties and throwing its copy of Costume Cavalcade: Period Costumes Sourced from Historical Documents straight in the garbage. It zooms in with laser focus on romance, visual lusciousness, and genuinely creepy moments.
Verily, who be at the helm of this entertainment and who doth the players
The show started out in the capable hands of Stephanie SenGupta (Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Hawaii Five-0) and Laurie McCarthy, however SenGupta exited the series rather abruptly before production ended. Reign is now entirely McCarthy’s baby; her producing credits include the wildly popular Ghost Whisperer, Felicity, and the last couple years of the original Beverly Hills, 90210. Mary, Queen of Scots is played by Adelaide Kane, who is an insanely likable heroine, with KStew cool and Drew Barrymore warmth. You may also know her from Teen Wolf and The Purge. The show's hottie role call is almost too much for me to handle: Toby Regbo, Jordan Lee, Torrance Coombs, Ashley Charles, Luke Roberts… you see what I’m saying here? Your eyeballs are going to love this show.
When canst I see it?
Reign premieres Thursday, October 17 at 9pm on The CW. It’ll greatly benefit, at least at the start, from occupying the timeslot following the network's powerhouse The Vampire Diaries, where it will compete against Glee on Fox, Grey's Anatomy on ABC, Sean Saves the World and The Michael J. Fox Show on NBC, and The Crazy Ones and Two and a Half Men on CBS.
What manner of viewer shall be ruled by this Reign?!
There are some people for whom this kind of thing (gorgeous period costumes mixed with sexy romance and angst-ridden teen dialogue) is CRACK. I am one of them, and maybe you are too. Did you like the non-boring parts of The Tudors? Do you like complicated intertwining relationships a la The Vampire Diaries? Do you like it when romance is made a focus, not a B-plot? Does the idea of a brooding bad boy in a black poet’s blouse staring across the room at a ball make you want to get down on your knees and thank the Lord? Then welcome to our new obsession.
What attributes and
virtues are met in this series’ aspect?
Reign totally succeeds in transporting the viewer back to a time when teens—and their dubious impulses—literally ruled the world. There’s a lot that’s spooky and dangerous about the series as well, with hints of a ghost story B-plot and murdered nuns and Sexy Nostradamus making very dire predictions. Also, and perhaps most importantly in terms of making a first impression, the show is GORGEOUS. Filmed in Ireland, every exterior shot is littered with actual castles and abbeys and misty woods that ground the series in the era. It’s so beautiful you could watch it with the sound off—but don’t, because you’ll miss the great music and dialogue. P.S. There are no thee or thy shenanigans either, so if you're typically put off by that stuff.
Oh no thees and thous? That's cool. Does it suffer any afflictions, though?
If you go in expecting historical accuracy, you will be sorely disappointed. People who had conniptions over The Tudors' costumes and casting (“SLEEVELESS BALLGOWNS?!” “JOSS STONE
AS ANNE OF CLEVES?!”) may have similar problems with Reign's outrageously sexy
costumes, which, trust, you would not leave your heezy wearing in the merrie olde 16th
century. Same goes for how we're in France but everybody has an English accent? Whatevs. If you’re a Tudor expert the anachronisms will bother you, but even so, just watch the pilot anyway and thank me later. This is The CW, after all. Although as long as we’re
getting anachronistic with the clothes, maybe we could sprinkle a few actors of
color in there? Here's hoping that happens in future episodes. Also it's waaaay sexy, so... don't settle down with the parents and a bowl of popcorn or things might get awkward.
Okay, but in truth, shall I watch
Hell yes you should watch this! Something this ambitious that’s not linked to vampires is sort of a leap for The CW, and ambitious original series should always be encouraged. Plus there’s so much to like: spooky ghosts. Irish castles. Secret passages. Amazing actors. Sexy Nostradamus. Sexy sex. Luscious prom-type gowns on the reg. Hair crownlets. Get your friends together and make a night of it.
Trailer or it didn't happen.
Here ya go.
What drink goes well with this um, merriment, forsooth?
For teen viewers, I suggest a nice apple cider mulled with spices and sipped from your mom’s fanciest cups (bonus points if you can find silver-type goblets from a thrift store). Old biddies like me should mull some red wine and drink it out of a silver bowl so big you have to hold it with both hands.