Reign: Season 1

Perhaps the first thing I should mention in a review for the TV series “Reign” and its DVD release is probably the most important of all. It is not historically accurate. And ‘not historically accurate’ is not even a complete description as I should have added ‘not even remotely’ to the verbiage. It’s as if the names are the same, but the story has been changed to protect the innocent.

“Reign” tells us the “Dawson’s Creek/Vampire Diaries” version of a 15-year old Mary Queen of Scots and her many adventures as she prepares for her life married to Prince Francis. There is intrigue, backstabbing, mysterious things in the forest… all set to music straight out of the contemporary strains of 2013. (Don’t worry that this is supposed to be 1557… that’s not important.)

Yes, I’m poking fun at the series… as if that wasn’t obvious enough… but truth be told, underneath it all is a rather fun series…in a check your brain at the door kind of way. If you don’t know that much about history, chances are you’ll enjoy the characters and their escapades as well as the gorgeous sets and countryside as the pilot was filmed in Ireland. Subsequent episodes lose a little bit of this as they moved the production to the not quite as lush Toronto.

Adelaide Kane stars as Mary Stuart and steps into the role admirably, if not a bit modernized in her portrayal. Megan Follows, whom we all knew and loved as Anne of Green Gables so many years ago, chews up the scenery as Catherine De Medici. The same can be said for Rossif Sutherland who gives us an anachronistically young and handsome Nostradamus. Actually, everyone chews the scenery with relish, with the exception of Kane, who as the series lead, is actually the most understated of all… but it works to her favor.

The DVD release (oddly there doesn’t seem to be a Bluray version) offers up the first season with a glorious picture and sound presentation. The Pilot episode looks especially wonderful, aided by the aforementioned Irish countryside. There are few ‘Making of’ featurettes, but all do allow a nice look into how the series was brought to life. One in particular strikes me as a little humorous as it is entitled “The Authenticity of Reign.” Really?

That said, “Reign” is turning into a guilty pleasure. I have friends who are history nuts and would more than likely hit their TVs with a sledgehammer, but I have only a passing knowledge. I’m not watching to learn, I’m watching to be entertained. And entertain it does. While it does not have the deeply complex writing of a series like “Game of Thrones,” it also does not have the copious amounts of nudity and sex that I get so tired of seeing and most series writers think is needed to gain viewers. For that, I thank the producers of “Reign.”

Episodes:

Pilot
Snakes in the Garden
Kissed
Hearts and Minds
A Chill in the Air
Chosen
Left Behind
Fated
For King and Country
Sacrifice
Inquisition
Royal Blood
Consummation
Dirty Laundry
The Darkness
Monsters
Liege Lord
No Exit
Toy Soldiers
For Love or Country
Higher Ground
Long Live the King
Slaughter of Innocence

Starring: Adelaide Kane, Megan Follows, Torrance Coombs, Toby Regbo, Caitlin Stasey, Anna Popplewell
Extras: Reign: The Making of a Queen; The Authenticity of Reign: Recreating the 16th Century; Deleted Scenes
Video: Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date: 9/23/2014
Website: http://www.cwtv.com/shows/reign

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