Monday, January 16, 2017

Victoria is no Downton Abbey

Sat through the full two hour opener of Victoria on PBS  last night and can report that Downton Abbey will not be threatened.  First off, of course, is that this is history not fiction and therefore the outcome is known.  With no real suspense possible the interest, as in Shakespeare, is in how the characters will reach their already stipulated ends. At the moment the Queen is naïve and pretty and her opposition seems obsequious, and less than exciting. From the Germans lurking in the halls to the oily Lord Melbourne, they were to a turn pretty dull.  We look forward to a few more sparks when Pitt does manage to succeed.

Visually there are some stunning scenes, but mostly the director seems to lavish a bit too much love and time on overly formal processions and architecture. They are pretty but drag down the pace.  It is also unfortunate that the limited TV budget parameters are emphasized in the cheesy process shots of crowds and early 19th century London. 

Then there is an attempt every ten minutes of so to insert snippets of life below the rodent infested stairs.  None of the servant class gets more than thirty seconds at a crack and none of them jump out at you as appealing. I have not read the book so do not know if this was used in the same manner, but here it seems like someone ordered some programmed  interruptions for shots of the little people at work.  At this point they do little more than set up the next glorious costume or ballroom. The monarchy may be threatened but down below it is two bit chiseling about gloves rats, and candles.

To be fair this may be the necessary setup for fireworks to come.  We shall see if the actors can surmount the less than appealing reputation of this Queen.  

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