Saturday, February 4, 2017

Queen Victoria

Vogue January 2017
This was the first January in six years when "Downton Abbey" was not on Sunday's menu on "Masterpiece Theater," and to be honest, I wasn't sad. I faithfully watched the program from its first airing through all of the exaggerated  hoopla that surrounded its final show. It was exhausting. And the show had lost some of its innocence and the organic feeling of a 'special' find. In the end, everyone watched it. And I don't mind being a part of everyone, but its huge popularity detracted from its original charm. One of the things that I like about a "Masterpiece Theater" program is in its quiet. The landscapes are peaceful. The costumes are intricate, not loud. And the passion that characters may, or may not, feel for each other smolders beneath the surface, never quite igniting into a blaze. Its a cozy, winter throw against the chill of a Sunday evening that is fine fare to accompany a Sunday roast and glass, or two, of Bordeaux.

Sunday evening's offering started off this year grandly with the final episodes of Sherlock Holmes. The three episodes were dizzying with complexity and the brilliance that is Benedict Cumberbatch. I am not nearly over them and vow to watch again so that I can capture all of the plot ... it runs fast. And I'm sorry that it will be the last of this incarnation of Sherlock Holmes. He's a character that I will never tire of seeing solve mysteries, and Cumberbatch was the finest who has played Holmes.

And now, we have "Victoria." Being an Anglophile, I watched Netflix's "The Crown" in a few sittings. With that over and waiting for its next installment, PBS brightening the dull winter sky with a beautifully produced story of Victoria. I hadn't realized that it was coming up, but I dutifully turned to a Sunday night view with this gift. Like "The Crown," "Victoria's" strength is in the actors who portray the characters. English actors are just better. And they morph into ancient souls flawlessly while creating a dimension all of their own. Jenna Coleman, who plays the young queen, is superb. She's a tiny girl, but like Victoria, she rises up out of size with strong conviction and a mighty force. Rufus Seawell plays her confidante, Lord M, who was Victoria's first Prime Minister. Seawell has changed since I last saw him on the screen, but the age that has come to him is wonderful. I don't remember him being so ... resonant. Their love for each other, which was established early on in the show, is believable and bittersweet. Much older, his wife has run off with Lord Byron ... oh, I love that! Byron the romantic. Byron the traveller. Byron the naughty boy. And Lord M. isn't naughty. He convinces Victoria that theirs is not a love to be had ... though he silently battles the rage he feels when other men come along. And the one man who does come along that captures Victoria's heart is Prince Albert, played by Tom Hughes. Hughes is more dreamy than any Downton lad by far. He holds himself away from Victoria to test that love, not duty, draw the two together.

Pour me another glass of wine. I am happy in the wrap of this to get me safely through winter.

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