First Look: The CW's Reign

There are many great things about living in New York, and one of them is the Paley Center in midtown.  The Paley Center is a museum that is dedicated to one thing only; television.  For the past several years, they have given members as well as the public the chance to get a first look at the new fall television season.  This year, I was lucky enough to get to view the pilot for the new CW series about Mary, Queen of Scots, called appropriately enough, REIGN.


(Mary and Francis have a tense moment)

I tried desperately to check my brain at the door and throw away and preconceived notions that I might have had from watching the extended preview online.  However, that proved difficult once the show started.  Granted, I’m clearly not the intended viewing audience for this show.  The CW tends to skew hella young and most of the shows are geared towards teenagers and twenty-somethings.  REIGN is definitely skewed towards teenage girls; there is man candy, pretty dresses and lots of jeweled headbands.  I wouldn’t be surprised if FOREVER 21 and the CW hooked up to do a dress and accessory line based on the show.  The show is basically GOSSIP GIRL + 16th century France + supernatural elements = REIGN.
Adelaide Kane (who looks a heck of lot like actress Michelle Trachtenberg) plays Mary, Queen of Scots.  And if you have seen the preview commercial, you know that she does not have red hair, it’s more dark brown with red highlights.  She’s also not particularly tall or Francis is particularly short, I can’t really tell.  (According to IMBD, she’s only 5’4”, the real Mary was 5’11”).  She plays Mary as rather tentative at first but then she finds her inner feistiness.  When we first meet Mary, she’s been living in a convent in France away from the court as a way of keeping her safe.  After a rousing game of football, an incident occurs that makes the Reverend Mother realize that it is time that Mary leave the convent and head for court.

(The royal court waits to greet Mary)
Once she gets there, Mary soon realizes that her betrothed is not that happy to see her.  See Francis (Toby Regbo) is on the fence about whether an alliance with Scotland is really what France needs to protect her from her enemies.  In his spare time, he’s been forging swords and armor for the French army.  Catherine de Medici is played by Megan Follows who played Anne of Green Gables years ago.  She’s also not happy to see Mary, since her good buddy Nostradamus gave her some bad news about Mary and Francis’ future.  While Francis blows hot and cold towards Mary, his bastard half-brother Sebastian (played by Torrance Combs) catches Mary’s eye.  Sebastian is the son of Henri II and his mistress Diane de Poitiers.  I smell potential love triangle, don’t you?

(Mary and Sebastian get acquainted)
Mary has a small group of maids who followed her from the convent.  Historically, these girls were also named Mary, and were known as the ‘Four Marys’.  Since that would be way too confusing for a teenage viewing audience, they’ve all been given new names, Lola (I kid you not), Greer, Aylee and Kenna.  The scenes with all five girls are some of the best in the show.  You get a real sense that Mary is a teenage girl with none of the responsibilities yet of ruling.  There is a very telling scene late in the episode, when Mary tells the girls that they are her friends and she will protect them, and Lola reminds her that they are her subjects not her friends.

Besides Mary’s arrival at court which seems to be somewhere on the Normandy coast (there are many lovely shots of what is actually the Irish sea since the pilot was shot in Ireland), the first episode deals with the marriage of Princess Elisabeth, eldest daughter of Henri II and Catherine de Medici, to Philip II of Spain who is depicted in the series as a young hot guy close to Elisabeth’s age instead of a widower in his thirties.  The episode turns into soft porn when the girls decide to watch the wedding night behind a screen.  Although they don’t stay for the consummation, all of them are incredibly turned on.  They start running around the palace rubbing themselves against the furniture like they’re in heat.  Seriously, one of the girls starts to pleasure herself in the hallway.
So far Megan Follows as Catherine de Medici is the best thing about the show.  You get the sense that she is the real power behind the throne, not her husband.  Henri, so far, has been depicted as nothing more than a horn dog.  It will be interesting to see if they develop the relationship between Henri and Diane and the animosity that Catherine felt towards her rival.  In the pilot, I don’t think Diane had more than one line. Nostradamus pops up in the pilot and like everyone else; the actor playing him is about twenty years too young for the role. I mentioned earlier that there was a supernatural element to the series. Nostradamus is part of that element, but there is also apparently a ghost that haunts the royal palace who warns Mary of dire plots against her.  Oh and there is also a dark forest which Sebastian warns Mary away from after her dog Stirling runs away.

Everyone in show speaks with a sort of English accent which is interesting since Mary and her maids were Scottish, and the court French.  Catherine and Henri had ten children; it will be interesting if any of them show up in the series.  The costumes, at least for the woman, look as if the costume designer raided FOREVER 21 during prom season. There are lots of sparkly headbands and sleeveless dresses. At one point, during the feast after the wedding, the girls kick off their high-heeled pumps and dance the night away.

Although I found many moments in the show hilarious, I’m willing to give this show a shot.  Although if you disliked The Tudors because you thought it was historically inaccurate, you will really hate this show.  Since the show is called REIGN, if it gets picked up beyond the first season, at some point Mary will have to go back to Scotland to reign.  The show is up against some heavy competition on Thursday, but it might just keep the VAMPIRE DIARIES audience and pick-up those viewers who were devoted to GOSSIP GIRL. I will certainly keep blogging each episode as long as the show is on.

Fact vs. Fiction:  Well, the big one is that Diane de Poitiers and Henri II never had any children.  Diane was 19 years older than the King.  Although their affair started when he was 16, and she was 35, it seems that either Diane was no longer as fertile or she took measures to prevent a pregnancy.  The King did however have an illegitimate child by Janet Fleming, the governess of Mary Queen of Scots. Her daughter Mary was one of the young queen’s “Four Marys.”  Princess Elisabeth did marry Philip II of Spain, but she was married to him by proxy in France.   They didn’t marry in person until Nostradamus did spent time at the French court; Catherine de Medici was one of his admirers.  It is also a fact that Catherine de Medici was never that fond of Mary.  However, Mary was raised at the French court with Francis and his siblings.  Princess Elisabeth was one of her closest friends (Elisabeth is only scene in the wedding night scene). The real Francis stuttered and was abnormally short.  He certainly wasn’t a strapping hot blond. 

You can watch the full trailer for Reign below:



Irene Jennings said…
Well just the start of the show is wrong , Mary queen of Scott was sent to live in France at the very young age of 4, she and Frances grow up together.

Marlene Detierro (Medevac)
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Emma said…
Honestly I don't care if its accurate or not. It has a great plot and not every single thing has to be down to a T or it would be the history channel. And it does not seem fare to be so picky when it comes to the actor's her hair color and height. She is a very good actor and that's all that should matter. They may have been able to get an actor that was 5'4" and had red hair but that actor may have not been the best fit for the part. And of course they would have to change the ladies in waiting names because it would be confusing to have them all named Mary. In other scenes were they are talking about one of the ladies in waiting you would have no idea which one they were talking about because they would all be Mary.

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