Masterpiece: Victoria - Complete Seasons 1,2&3
(Jenna Coleman, Tom Hughes, Laurence Fox, Kate Fleetwood / 9-DVD / NR / 2020 / PBS)
Overview: Discover all three seasons of the unmissable global hit drama starring Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria, a nineteenth-century heroine for our times.
This landmark account of the life of one of history’s greatest monarchs begins as Victoria takes her first faltering steps from capricious, hormonal teenager to respected monarch, navigating palace intrigue and constitutional crises alongside an epic romance with her cousin Prince Albert (Tom Hughes).
As Victoria’s reign continues, she must face the very modern challenge of balancing life as a mother and wife with her work as ruler of the most powerful nation on earth.
As the lavish saga unfolds against the backdrop of pivotal moments in history, the Queen and Prince Albert must meet each public challenge while confronting profound personal change.
DVD Verdict: Personally, I love historical/period dramas and from the off, the advertising for 'Victoria' was appetizing, the cast a super talented one, and Queen Victoria herself was an interesting historical figure with an interesting life.
Similarly her reign of 64 years (the longest for any ruler for over a century before topped by our present queen Elizabeth II) is a landmark one. So 'Victoria' had so much potential.
That said, and having now watched all three seasons of 'Victoria' back-to-back, sure, ok, admittedly the series is a wee bit uneven in places, with a good deal of it being in the transitional stages, so to speak, but my goodness, it's a right royal to-do, that's for darn sure!
Anyhoo, what I can say is that it keeps you watching, drawn into her world due to being so captivating with regard its overall production and costume values and, for the most part, all the primary actors too, of course.
Again, there is no doubt about it, 'Victoria' does look amazing, so much so that there are times when I myself wished I had lived back then (albit not for long, given that times young death rates!)
The radiant photography never put a foot wrong whilst the costumes are of sheer sumptuousness, the scenery is enough to take the breath away and the interiors and buildings similarly are stately and opulent, whether in England or abroad.
Oh, and for my humble money's worth, the episode partly set in France was a major standout (Ohh la-la!").
I also LOVE the music too, with the main theme/opening title music not being one to forget in the long run. It has a lot of presence while having the ability to tone down when needed.
Most all the writing intrigues also, as do some of the relationships (particularly Victoria and Melbourne that was also emotionally investable), and there are some compelling storylines which makes forever-a-dull moment, so to speak.
Another big reason for why this series resonates with me so much is the
overall acting; or, at least, most of it. Jenna Coleman is both regal and vulnerable in the title role, as well as luminous, which only equals impeccable acting.
To me it didn't matter whether she was too pretty or a little too tall (if remembered correctly, Victoria was actually under 5 foot, Coleman is slightly over that).
Other particularly good performances are Paul Rhys, suitably hateable and stern without being one-dimensional or pantomimic, and especially, always-remarkable actor Rufus Sewell, who is oh-so beautifully cast here.
This eight-part drama wears its moral scheme on its sleeve by contrasting the hissable villain the Duke of Cumberland (Peter Firth), with the aforementioned pragmatic, yet goodhearted, Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell), who admires the Queen yet remains convinced that she has to transform herself from an immature girl into suitably monarchical material, and will try his utmost to achieve that transformation.
Sometimes he has to be cruel to be kind, but all in a good cause. In between these two extremes stands the Duke of Wellington (Peter Bowles), and Sir Robert Peel (Nigel Lindsay), both members of the Tory Party (and hence implacably opposed to Melbourne's politics), but interested in maintaining the business of government.
Same goes for the wonderful supporting cast. Adored the prickly and snobby Lahzen, the sarcastic Penge, David Oake's caddish yet warmhearted Ernest, sympathized with Catherine Flemming's Duchess of Kent, and found Alex Jenning's King Leopold so freaking amusing that I would so love to have an uncle like that!
Perhaps the only disappointment for me was the "downstairs" love story. I was just not invested in Francatelli and Nancy's romance, and I felt like I was forced to endure rather than relish it.
Unfortunately, as with all good things, there are exceptions. Like, personally, I didn't think much of Nigel Lindsay, who constantly came over as over-compensating, but the biggest exception was a woefully cast and very anemic Tom Hughes as Albert.
For my part, and although the script was quite brilliant throughout, I just didn't detect any chemistry between him and Coleman and never believed they were in love. It was not a love at first sight relationship purposefully by all means, but there was not much evidence of it changing or growing.
It was far more invested in the chemistry between Coleman and Sewell, which was so poignantly and sympathetically handled.
However, if you want both sides of the story here, so to speak, much more of an issue for me was the overall handling of some of the larger storylines.
And whether the writing tended to be somewhat stilted, thankfully it never took me out of the time period (albeit having some overly melodramatic soap opera tones at times!).
People - fans or not - will always have complaints regarding the historical inaccuracies, but when it revolves around a famous and important historical figure/ruler with an interesting life that was played out before a nation, all the personal stuff was kept, well, personal!
Ergo, how do we know what happened and what was said behind closed doors, so why people make a fuss abut such things is totally beyond me, sorry.
Overall, worthy of a LOT of admiration, 'Victoria' is a drama that goes very deep into the story of this monarch who, with the permission of the current Queen, was the monarch with the longest reign in British history, so there is a lot to tell.
All the small details of what happened wouldn't be appreciated if it weren't for the amazing performance that Jenna Coleman gives us all. Again, she is simply wonderful in her role on a young Victoria and it is through her eyes that we learn along with her, through her voice that we are taught how a ruler is born.
Of course, her aforementioned great supporting cast "allow" her to shine even more in her performance and, considering their limited budget, the cinematography is wonderful, the clothing beautiful and the set designs simply breathtaking. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and includes over 100 minutes of Bonus Video including:
Tour of the Buckingham Palace Set
Creating the CGI Magic
An Icon for Women Today
Feodora: A New Dynamic
Lord Palmerston: The Foreign Secretary
And Much More!