What I Learned From Doctor Who: “An Unearthly Child” (One, 1963)

Doctor: One (William Hartnell)

Companions: Ian Chesterton (William Russell); Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill); and Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford)

Time: The Stone Age.  Or maybe the Ice Age.  Cavemen abound.

Place: Earth.

Episodes: 

1. “An Unearthly Child” (Season One, Episode One)
2. “The Cave of Skulls” (S1, E02)
3. “The Forest of Fear” (S1, E03)
4. “The Firemaker” (S1, E04)

Today’s Lessons

1. One is a grumpy, grumpy guy!  This first incarnation of the Doctor is really impatient with humans and suspicious of them too.  It doesn’t help that Ian and Barbara, Susan’s schoolteachers, followed her to the junkyard where he parked his TARDIS.  He really talks down to them most of time and childishly fights with Ian over who should be the leader.  Question: Hasn’t he ever met humans before this?  Also: how old is he here?

2. The Doctor has a granddaughter, allegedly, named Susan!  Questions: Is she biological?  So, he had children?  A wife?  On Gallifrey?  I remember Ten and Eleven both referencing children they had.  Maybe it’s too early to speculate on Susan.

3. Women are just so hysterical, be they caveman (woman), schoolteacher, or alien granddaughter.  Thank you, 1963.

4. Cavemen are surprisingly articulate.  Monosyllabic though they may be, they still use full sentences with English accents, but their names sound like something out of comic books. “Za,” “Kal,” “Old Woman.”  Question: Is the TARDIS’ universal translator up and running so early, even though the ship itself isn’t flying too straight as of these episodes?

5. Time paradox alert! Did the cavemen make fire without the sun eventually and without the help of our trusty Doctor and his companions independent of their random arrival, or did Ian change history by providing Za with that whole Boy Scouts stick rubbing skill?

6. Ian and Barbara were initially captives of the Doctor.  Question: Does he ever intend to bring them back to Earth?  The TARDIS is apparently broken right now, but he seemed dead set on keeping them indefinitely.  Like I said: grumpy!

7. One appears to be “on the lam,” possibly for stealing the TARDIS.  Question: Is he running from the Time Lords?  Why is Susan with him?

8. One likes “Victorian/Edwardian” attire.  Question: What inspired that look?

9. When history does not afford one the luxury of good special effects, to film chase scenes, it’s important that the camera zoom in really really close on faces, wet with perspiration.  That’s how you know they’re in it for their lives.

10. So far, the hero of the piece seems to change from the Doctor to Ian and back again.  Question: Is our early Doctor learning about humanity through the eyes of his first official companions?

Next serial: “The Daleks” (Season 1, Episodes 5-11).

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Around the Water Cooler: “Doctor Who” – The Day of the Doctor (SPOILERS, Sweetie)

THE SPECS:

Who: “Doctor Who” airs on cable TV, specifically on BBC America, Saturdays at 8:00 PM, though the show is currently in hiatus.

What: “Doctor Who,” the long-running British science fiction show about an alien time and space traveler an who gallivants across the universe with companions in an effort to save people and/or history and/or the universe itself.  The synopsis changes from Doctor to Doctor, but the above statement pretty much encapsulates all of them.

When: The 50th Anniversary Special, “The Day of the Doctor,”  aired on Saturday, November 23, 2013, on BBC America at 2:50 PM.

Where: The show is set literally everywhere in the whole universe at any given time, though not without the Doctor’s ship, the TARDIS, and some face of the man who pilots it.

Why:  Once upon a time (no, not that show), friends of mine said precisely this: “Why aren’t you watching Doctor Who?!  It’s science fiction, it’s British, it’s everything you love (short of vampires)!  Watch it!  Do it!”  I started with the 2005 pilot of “Rose” and kept right on chugging.  Now, I’m a fully converted Whovian, with an obsessive eye to both past, as in Classic, Who and the future incarnations of the “Madman in a Box.”

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

Doctor Who turned 50, and what better way to celebrate than to create a fascinating special that explores some of the mythology developed over the years, some of which has been particularly punctuated by the revival series, and to do it featuring the most favorite of the Doctors and one of the favorite companions, in addition to current companion Clara (Jenna Coleman)?  This viewer saw the special twice: once in 3D at the cinema (my first viewing) and then I watched it again on the smaller screen – just because I had to do so.

This special was very satisfying in so many ways, though it also posited new questions.  For starters, Matt Smith, in his penultimate episode as the Eleventh Doctor (or is it the Twelfth now?) was at the top of his game and happens to play very well against fan favorite, the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant.  What a charming and refreshing sight to see that old pin striped suit and the old Converse sneakers and to hear the familiar “Allons-y!”  Yes, Ten may be this viewer’s most favorite yet, and not just because he’s dead sexy, but because he’s the compassionate Doctor.  As Rose aka Bad Wolf, the Ultimate Weapon Interface, opined, Ten is the “man who regrets” while Eleven is the “man who forgets.”

The “regret” and “forget” of this special centered on the destruction of Gallifrey, the Time Lords’ (and the Doctor’s) home world.   Eleven is whisked into the National Gallery in London where he is shown a three dimensional painting of the Fall of Arcadia, the Gallifreyan capital, the “credentials” of his erstwhile wife (!) Queen Elizabeth I. Seems Ten really got busy somewhere betwixt those fourth season specials.  Anyway, an incarnation of the Doctor never before seen, and played by John Hurt, is contemplating the destruction of his home world to end the vicious war between the Time Lords and the Daleks, that fateful date that is both regretted and forgotten by subsequent generations of his personae, but the conscious interface of the Ultimate Weapon he stole from the Time Lords’ arsenal assumes the form of Rose-From-the-Future, i.e. the “Bad Wolf,” and attempts to open time fissures to show the Doctor the consequences of his actions.  This fissure ripples from Eleven’s present to Ten’s past and finds the two of them face-to-face and surprisingly hostile toward each other, at times, like brothers, even though they are supposed to be the same person. This new Warrior Doctor also finds them, only to be cornered by an influx in both past and present of members of a shape-shifting alien race known as the Zygons, a mainstay from the Classic era.  This leaves Ten, Eleven, and this “forgotten” Doctor, the one they never think about because he made the decision regarding destruction of their home world and countless innocent lives, to work together to defeat the Zygons and ultimately help the old Doctor make his ultimate choice.

Any further information, including nods to Easter Eggs and scattered tidbits thrown into the episode, would be the ultimate in “spoilers.”  From this viewer’s perspective, though, Executive Producer and Head Writer Stephen Moffat really should have silenced the naysayers, those loyal to the former revival Executive Producer, Russell T. Davies, with this incredibly well written special, as he resurrected themes prevalent during Ten’s tenure and married them to Eleven’s current predicaments, setting the stage nicely for a new story arc when Peter Capaldi assumes the role of the Twelfth Doctor.  Moffat also provided loving treatments of every major cameo and actual appearance of Doctor Who favorites, both real and archival, and seemed to give our two most recent Doctors much latitude to play off each other in such a ridiculously pleasing manner. The result is an immense treat for longtime and recent fans alike and will no doubt be a favorite over the course of the entire fifty years and beyond of this franchise’s lifespan.

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) So many questions: to start, GALLIFREY IS STILL OUT THERE!!!  That was pretty much a redefining moment for the Doctor.  So exciting to see where this search takes him.  How far will he travel in Eleven’s last ride?

2) Exactly how many regenerations does the Doctor really have?  The long-time accepted fact is that the Doctor is allotted 12 regens and 13 personae – if that’s true, though, John Hurt’s Doctor would add the number to 13!  There are all sorts of theories circling out there, but what I’ve come to conclude is that the Time Lords can do just about anything and have done just about anything. Then, there’s the 3D movie introduction with Eleven prattling on, cheekily referencing 57 doctors and the 100th anniversary in 12D, so clearly, Moffat has something up his sleeve…  Never mind the Curator and his portraying actor… Maybe this means, though, that the Doctor need only change his name, and he can receive 12 more regenerations?  Golly, Doctor Who calculations are hard.  Where’s my Sonic Screwdriver?  (Other theories arise from events that happened to the Fourth Doctor, River Song’s using her regeneration allotments to revive the Doctor, and Ten’s regeneration using only his hand).

3) Can the Doctor encounter himself again?  Please?

4) Does this mean that John Hurt’s Warrior Doctor is really the 8th?  8.5th?  Watch and find out.

5) I find myself very sad that Matt Smith is leaving the show.  Eleven really grew on me.  He truly is a madman in a box, and it seems that each of the new doctors has upped the energy of the previous one.  What will Twelve be like?  That’s the ultimate question.

PARTING SHOTS

Doctor Who has become a favorite in this viewer’s lineup and, after fifty years, is still going strong, providing mind-bending stories and outrageous situations for a space and time traveler and his lucky companion(s).  What the future will hold has been tantalizingly hinted at…and with the prospective future on the horizon, there is no sign that this franchise will be slowing down anytime soon.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Doctor Who’s series 8 premiere is not expected to occur until August 2014 (the British have super irregular filming schedules), though a Christmas special, Matt Smith’s last as the Doctor, will air in or around the end of December 2013.

Pilots and Premieres: “Dracula” – Series Premiere

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Dracula,” currently airs on network TV, specifically on NBC, Fridays at 10:00 PM.

What: “Dracula,” a historical supernatural/fantasy series based upon the infamous titular vampire and his reanimation in Victorian England.

When: The series premiered on NBC, Friday, October 25, 2013, at 10:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in London, England, in the year 1896.  

Why: I continue to enjoy shows centered on vampires, though the character of Dracula has always been somewhat of a mixed bag for me, depending upon the portrayal and vehicle.  For example, I enjoy the Dracula on Buffy the Vampire Slayer but only tolerate Gary Oldman’s Dracula (given the fact that the film surrounding him is somewhat mediocre).  My interest and intrigue were  piqued when I learned that King Henry VIII himself, the charismatic Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, would be playing the enigmatic vampire.  The thought of it and ensuing expectations were too much to pass up.

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING.  HOLY SMOKES!

**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing.  I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.

*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens.  There are things I like, and things I don’t.  We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.

** – I will give it three episodes.  Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together.  No matter how unlikely.

* – Pass on this one, guys.  It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.

Dracula = ***

SYNOPSIS

A professor named Van Helsing (if he’s the vampire hunter, that has not been clarified yet) reanimates the wasted corpse of Dracula (Rhys Meyers), entombed in wooden stakes and silver. Dracula, posing as an American industrialist named Alexander Grayson in Victorian London, seeks vengeance against something called the Order of the Dragons, members of which also happen to control industrial interests in London.  Meanwhile, he encounters the doppelganger of his former wife, who was murdered by the Order prior to Dracula’s encasement in a vampire-proof coffin. This new iteration of his long dead wife, Mina, draws his interest while, in the meantime, he slaughters haughtier members of the Order in order to bring his vengeful interests to the forefront.

THOUGHTS

While Jonathan Rhys Meyers is equal to the task of portraying the titular vampire and all of the allure, mystique, and pathos of a very old, very passionate, very angry being, the story, loosely based on the fiction giving rise to the character in question, is a bit dense, at least as depicted in this pilot.  The density itself lends to confusion and a somewhat plodding pace that may be a bit of a turn-off for some viewers.

Dracula has a vendetta against the Order of Dragons for murdering his long-dead wife, who seems to be reincarnated in the form of Mina (this is just like the Gary Oldman film).  Yet, why is he posing as an American?  With a laughable accent?  And only part time, as Dracula, though played by an Irish actor, is sporting the English accent from his Tudors days?  The other confusing element of this dense story is that Dracula plans to overtake the industrialists of the Dragons by besting them at their own prowess for monopolies, by trumping their petroleum and other interests with “magnetic” power that can illuminate light bulbs in the palm of one’s hand, although Thomas Edison apparently finds the idea comedic enough to “oust” Mr. Grayson from America. This blurred focus makes for a rather cerebral story and one not necessarily marrying to the legend of this vampire.

In fact, the story is so confusing, it caused this viewer to lose interest in the pilot at parts, only to be drawn back in by the mysterious chemistry between Dracula and Mina as well as his dalliance with a vampire hunter named Lady Jayne Wetherby.  The sets and costumes of this period piece are opulent, incorporating a copious wash of the color red (no heavy handed symbolism there), and the underscoring is appropriately eerie.  Yet, the tale in which the viewer is being asked to engage may not sustain interest, despite the screen presence of the main actor.

Three stars entitle this series to a six episode trial to see where it might go.  As much as Mr. Rhys Meyers is enjoyable to watch, both for his talent and for his physical attributes, he may not save the swirling vortex of long-form storytelling that this pilot seems to have established.  

RECOMMENDATION

Dracula will appeal to fans of Mr. Rhys Meyers, to fans of period pieces, and possibly to fans of the original story.  The show’s Friday night time slot may not do much to garner an audience, but those loyal to this tale might find intrigue in the program based on it.  I’m not sure that fans of vampire fiction will necessarily enjoy this show; the fact that Dracula is a vampire seems almost secondary to the vendetta he carries in his heart.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW:

Too early to tell.  The ratings have been up and down and then down some more.  Some TV watchdog sites are already calling it “likely to be canceled,” but its fate is unknown when it is sequestered to a Friday night time slot following the growing success of its lead-in, Grimm.  Let’s see how it fares.

Around the Water Cooler: “Grimm,” The Season 3 Premiere (SPOILERS)

THE SPECS:

Who: “Grimm” currently airs on network TV, specifically on NBC, Fridays at 9:00 PM.

What: “Grimm,” a supernatural/fantasy drama, wherein supernatural forces, the stuff of nightmarish fairy tales and legends, are disguised as human beings, and only those descended from the original Brothers Grimm, can see – and fight – those beings and their true natures (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/grimm/summary.html).

When: The Season 3 premiere aired on Friday, October 25, 2013, on NBC at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in Portland, Oregon.

Why:  The premise of this show has always been intriguing: Grimms are not weavers of fairy tales but are humanity’s last line of defense against the beasts and monsters that haunt our nightmares. This generation’s Grimm is a police detective who stumbles into his family legacy by accident and must adjust what is his mostly normal life to these new abnormalities.  The mythology in this show is steep, meaning it will always be a cult TV show at best, but cult TV tends to appeal to me more than mainstream/non-cult TV, and I haven’t been disappointed by Grimm.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

Grimm is a truly unique show.  Its audience is not large, but, as with most cult television offerings, the viewership is avidly loyal.  The special effects are well done, borrowing heavily from creator David Greenwalt’s prior experience on Angel.  As noted above, the story and ongoing struggles of Grimm Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) are heavily rooted in a mythology that casual viewers will not understand without watching previous seasons and episodes.  There is a jargon unique to this program: the Germanic names of the monsters and beastly natures of creatures chased and battled by Nick include things like “blutbots” and “hexenbeasts.”  The vendetta of the “Royals,” i.e. powerful supernatural enemies of the Grimms, is a tale that has been woven since the pilot.

At the end of season 2, Nick became embroiled in Captain Renard’s (Sasha Roiz) Royal family politics, as his brother (James Frain) captured Nick with the help of a creature that spits venom and turns normal people into zombies.  The season premiere finds Nick’s partner Hank (Russell Hornsby), friend Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), friend Rosalee (Bree Turner), and true love Juliet (Bitsie Tulloch) being chased by a horde of zombies, after Juliet recently regained her memory and learned the true nature of the Grimms.  Meanwhile, Captain Renard finds his brother deeply involved in Nick’s capture; Nick’s friends chase his undead body to the airport and to a plane headed for Vienna only to learn later that the plane crashes, and Nick escapes unscathed but affected by the venom, as Grimms are “different,” we are reminded by Rosalee.  The premiere is clearly the first part of a longer arc that finds the heroes chasing Nick into the Oregonian wilderness, powerful, sick, and in need of the antidote brewed by Rosalee in her magic shop.

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) What do the Royals really want with Nick/any remaining Grimms, other than their extinction? Why not just kill him?

2) Will Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio return as Nick’s mom this season?  The season preview seemed to suggest so.

3) How will Juliet deal with all of this – she just started learning all of Nick’s heritage and seems to accept it, despite her pre-magically induced amnesiac doubts?

4) Now that Adelind has her hexenbeast (witch-like creature) magic back, what is her endgame?

5) Will the show veer away from “monster of the week” tales into a more mythology-focused storytelling structure?  It may be time to do so: how many new creatures can Nick encounter? Progress is key to longevity, after all.

PARTING SHOTS

Grimm is not a bad way to spend a Friday night (not that I’ve been able to watch it live on a Friday night in an extremely long time).  It’s not the most perfect show, and its heavy mythology is a deterrent to casual viewers. Fortunately, NBC allows Hulu and other venues to air the full show and not just six episodes at a time for those looking to catch up.  Grimm is well written and worth the look, for those who enjoy a good fantasy yarn.  Also, for those who care, David Giuntoli is quite enjoyable to look at…

LOOKING AHEAD:

Grimm was ordered for a full season and has earned the faith of the network, as the program’s audience may be the most solid even if the program is not the highest rated for its time slot. Grimm will likely be renewed again as long as the story continues to be as riveting as it has been.

Around the Water Cooler: “Sean Saves the World,” The Verdict

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Sean Saves the World,” currently airs on network TV, specifically on NBC, Thursdays at 9:00 PM.

What: “Sean Saves the World,” a situation comedy featuring Sean Hayes (formerly of Will & Grace fame), who plays a gay father with a teenage daughter, whose mother moved away and left her behind.  Sean must navigate being a full-time parent while simultaneously meeting the demands of his eccentric and task-oriented boss at work.

When: The series premiered on NBC, Thursday, October 3, 2013, at 9:00 PM.

Where: I think it might be Los Angeles, California…but I’m still not sure.

Why: Sean Hayes, of course, played Jack McFarland on the iconic sitcom Will & Grace and, sadly, hasn’t done much since.  He is an executive producer for Grimm,  the cult supernatural series currently airing on NBC, and that’s all I know.  I was interested in seeing what Sean could bring to the table after all these years, particularly since I did love Jack so much.

SYNOPSIS

Sean is divorced, having discovered that he is gay shortly after marrying his ex-wife.  Their union, however, produced daughter Ellie, who has moved in with Sean following her mother’s decision to move, and Ellie’s decision to stay in familiar surrounds.  Sean and Ellie must navigate their new full time parent/child relationship, while Sean deals with the pitfalls of his job at an online retail company, featuring co-workers including steadfast Liz (Megan Hilty of Smash).  In the meantime, Sean’s mother and he also have a complicatedly dysfunctional relationship (she’s played by Linda Lavin…it’s Alice!).

The Verdict

I initially rated the pilot 2 stars, which earns a three episode trial.  After three episodes, my verdict is:

Sean Saves the World is a non-starter.  There are funnier sitcoms on air at present, including newer offerings and old standbys. 

How – as in How’s It Going? (Final Thoughts)

What works for Sean Saves the World:

1) Sean Hayes is still funny.  He still provides enough antic energy to elicit some genuine laughs.

2) His chemistry with his daughter on the show is the true heart of this sitcom.  Their sarcastic banter is fresh and realistic.

3) His co-worker, Hunter (Echo Kellum), is – hands down – the funniest character on the show.  His one-liners and clipped delivery make it worthwhile.

What doesn’t work:

1) Megan Hilty.  She’s not funny.  She lacks comedic timing; everything sounds forced.  She’s a fine actress, but this is the wrong vehicle for her.

2) Thomas Lennon.  His awkward, creepy boss is cringe-worthy antagonism for Sean.  Also, the clueless boss trope might be a bit overdone (and was done better by Steve Carell).

3) Linda Lavin. I want her to be funnier than she is – I mean, she was Alice, for Pete’s Sake! – but mother Lorna is one step away from Norman Bates’ mother, and it’s sad and disturbing, not funny.

In the end, NBC ordered three or four more scripts because the network seemingly wants to like this gamble of a show and wants an audience to find it.  The problem is, the execution of the purported laughable moments is so messy and so uneven, this viewer thinks any additional airings, even with plenty of tweaking and massaging, are too little, too late.  Also, the laugh track and/or editing has not improved.

What’s worse: the writers and/or Mr. Hayes appear to enjoy beating jokes to death.  The third episode focused on a manic Sean dating a man that his mother set him up with (the son of a current lover of hers, of all things).  He spends the entire date worrying after Ellie, who has gone to a party and ultimately left her cell phone in a taxi.  He grows increasingly more Jack MacFarland-like, which is good, but then takes it too far, which is not good, at last chasing his date away (and rightfully so). In the end, the whole episode left this viewer with a sizable headache and no real enjoyment or entertainment value.

The concept/thought of bringing Sean Hayes and other actors in this program back to the small screen was not a bad call.  Unfortunately, the writers’/producers’ execution of the inherent theme of this program is too unorganized to be truly effective.  In the end, the show is only occasionally funny and does not have enough charm underlying its ensemble of players to make up for the lack of laughs.

In the end, Sean doesn’t really save the world.  He sort of runs around a lot of his own corner of it, has some really high-pitched/howler monkey type moments, and a few tender hugs with mother and/or daughter.  Sean, more or less, lives in the world like any other human being, gay or straight, with a demanding career and single parenting duties, and the mundane quality is not masked by the talents of the ensemble.

Food for thought to NBC: Echo Kellum earning his own show would not be a bad idea.  Just saying.

PARTING SHOTS

Sean Saves the World is not for me, nor is it for a horde of other viewers.  Fans of the show may need to start a write-in campaign, but I don’t think it’s worth saving, as much as this viewer or NBC wants it to be.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Sean Saves the World has had additional episodes ordered but not a full season.  If the recent trends continue, though NBC sees fit to give it one last shot, this sitcom will likely be dead on arrival by the holidays.  Sorry, Sean Hayes.

Pilots and Premieres: “Reign” – Series Premiere

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Reign,” currently airs on network TV, specifically on the CW, Thursdays at 9:00 PM.

What: “Reign,” a historical fiction/fantasy series depicting the rise to power of and political machinations surrounding Mary, Queen of Scots.

When: The series premiered on the CW, Thursday, October 10, 2013, at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show is primarily set in France, to where Mary was whisked in anticipation of her arranged marriage with Prince, later to be King, Francis (and for her protection, based on assassination attempts originating from England).

Why: Simply put, Reign struck me as the PG-13 version of The Tudors, like The Vampire Diaries is the PG-13 version of True Blood.  In fact, I don’t know why the show wasn’t titled “The Stuarts,” since Mary, Queen of Scots’, sorted reign of Scotland overlapped the Tudors’ reign of England and preceded the Stuarts’ (she was a Stuart) ascension to the English throne following the death of Queen Elizabeth I.  Anyway, I enjoy a good historical fiction, particularly related to royalty from yore and yesteryear and the isles across the pond, even if this is set in France (and even if no one has a French accent).

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING.  HOLY SMOKES!

**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing.  I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.

*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens.  There are things I like, and things I don’t.  We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.

** – I will give it three episodes.  Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together.  No matter how unlikely.

* – Pass on this one, guys.  It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.

Reign = ****

SYNOPSIS

Queen Mary of Scotland (Adelaide Kaine) has been sequestered for the whole of her childhood in a nunnery, awaiting the day when she can return to the French Royal Court to meet her betrothed, the Prince Francis.  Unfortunately, her life is being plotted against by those who hold other thrones, and the Queen of France sees fit to derail Queen Mary’s reputation, as Prince Francis philanders with women about the court.  Meanwhile, Francis’ half-brother Sebastian, a child by the King of France’s paramour, has taken quite a fancy to Mary, while Mary fights for the good of her distant realm and the sanctity of her betrothal as a 15 year old monarch on the cusp of her adulthood and her true reign.

THOUGHTS

Reign is watered down history for the 14-24 set, peppering the pot with soapy romance and the repression of 500 year old mores to add a sense of elicit to the proceedings.  In all honesty, the tone heavily borrows from The Tudors, though it is clear that this program was conceived on a smaller budget.

Kane is winning enough as Mary, Queen of Scots, though, as a historical figure, she is an odd choice around which to frame an entire series.  Judging from the current average weekly ratings, which are quite abysmal, even for the CW, others in the viewing audience may agree.  Mary led a rather whirlwind life from adolescence to adulthood, though the sense of intrigue surrounding her is not as mystical or as fascinating as some of her counterparts in countries to the south, including those adjoining Scotland in the British Isles.

Still, there is a sense of teenage angst as a trope that renders Reign potentially addicting.  Mary is finding her life as ruler a complication to finding a marriage and relationship of love as well as to maintaining friendships with her lifelong ladies-in-waiting, including the actress who plays Susan Pevensie in the Narnia movies.  Also, Francis has more or less proclaimed that he does not want to marry Mary while simultaneously holding a secret candle for her from their childhood play days. Add to that a villainous Queen who may also be jilted in the ways of love by her callous King, and Reign has all the elements of “guilty pleasure” permeating its pores.  The production values are also smartly addressed, with lavish sets and a divine musical score and use of backdrop songs.

In the end, this viewer is going to stick with the program for as long as it airs, though the fact that Adelaide Kane is not as enticing a watch as Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (Henry VIII on The Tudors) might ultimately be the show’s downfall in the end.  After all, the target audience for this program is not well defined, and The Tudors and all of its historical liberties were offset by Rhys Meyers’ charisma and the lushness of the visual presence and production values of the latter program. Reign lacks in both these qualities, no matter how fine a job Kane does in performing her titular role.

RECOMMENDATION

Reign is recommendable to young adults, as the tone is decidedly geared toward a specific age group, and anyone who enjoys decent historical fiction.  Beware that there is a juvenile angst serving as an undercurrent as well as a harlequin romance vibe to the execution of the story.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW:

Too early to tell.  The show is not rated highly, but it’s on the CW.  Also, only five episodes have aired.  The fate of this program may be determined at the mid-season break.

Progress Report: November Sweeps 2013

Based on reliable sources, including TVLine, the A.V. Club, and TV Guide, here are the current statuses of shows covered by this blog.  This list does not include up and coming shows to be reviewed or shows not listed on the “What I’m Currently Watching” page (such as The Simpsons):

* True Blood (HBO, Summer Sundays at 9:00 PM)

Season 7, Summer 2014, will be the final season.

*Bones (FOX, Fall Mondays at 8:00 PM)

Full season 9 ordered.  Renewal = ?

*Sleepy Hollow (FOX, Fall Mondays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 1 Ordered; Renewed for Season 2

*New Girl (FOX, Fall Tuesdays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 3 Ordered; Renewal = All But Guaranteed

*The Mindy Project (FOX, Fall Tuesdays at 9:30 PM)

Full Season 2 Ordered; Renewal = Likely

*Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC, Fall Tuesdays at 8:00 PM) — 6 episode trial

Full Season 1 Ordered; Renewal = ?

*Person of Interest (CBS, Fall Tuesdays at 10:00 PM)

Full Season 3 Ordered; Renewal = Likely

*Revolution (NBC, Fall Wednesdays at 8:00 PM)

Full Season 2 Ordered; Renewal = ?

*Glee (FOX, Fall Thursdays at 9:00 PM)

Season 6 (2014-2015) will be its last.

*Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, Fall Thursdays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 10 Ordered; Renewal = Likely

*The Crazy Ones (CBS, Fall Thursdays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 1 Ordered;  Renewal = ?

*The  Michael J. Fox Show (NBC, Fall Thursdays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 1 Pre-Ordered; Renewal = ?

*Once Upon a Time (ABC, Fall Sundays at 8:00 PM) –> MUST SEE FAVORITE

Full Season 3 Ordered; Renewal = All But Guaranteed

*Revenge (ABC, Fall Sundays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 3 Ordered; Renewal = ?

*The Vampire Diaries (CW, Fall Thursdays at 8:00 PM) –> MUST SEE FAVORITE

Full Season 5 Ordered; Renewal = All But Guaranteed

*The Originals (CW, Fall Tuesdays at 8:00 PM)

Full Season 1 Ordered; Renewal = Likely

*Sean Saves the World (NBC, Fall Thursdays at 9:00 PM) — 3 episode trial

Limited Scripts Ordered; Renewal = Unlikely

*Witches of East End (Lifetime, Fall Sundays at 10:00 PM)

Full Season 1 Ordered; Renewal = ?

*Supernatural (CW, Fall Tuesdays at 9:00 PM) –> MUST SEE FAVORITE

Full Season 9 Ordered; Renewal = Likely

*The Tomorrow People (CW, Fall Wednesdays at 9:00 PM)

Season Status and Renewal = ?

*American Horror Story (FX, Fall Wednesdays at 10:00 PM)

Full Season 3 Ordered; Renewed for Season 4

*Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC, Fall Thursdays at 8:00 PM) — Watching, but Likely to Be Canceled

Full Season 1 Ordered; Renewal = Unlikely