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Preview: Reign "Pilot" - It Was a Different Time

    Reign premieres on October 17 on the CW at 9pm. The “Pilot” was written by executive producers Laurie McCarthy and Stephanie Sengupta and was directed by Brad Silberling. Sengupta wrote and produced on Law and Order, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Hawaii Five-O, and The Ghost Whisperer. McCarthy also worked on The Ghost Whisperer, and this may explain some of the mysteries presented in the episode, which will no doubt play out over the series run. Silberling brings both television and theatrical directing experience to the project which contributes to the rich cinematography of the “Pilot.”
Coombs, Kane, and Regbo

    I was looking forward to this series because I’m a bit of a history buff. While much of the plot is, in fact, historically accurate, very little of the rest is. The costumes would look more appropriate at a contemporary Prom than the French court of the 16th century – zippers? Really? Some of the dialogue is also jarringly contemporary. Mary would never have been allowed to be alone, especially not at night or outside. That said, the “controversial” masturbation scene was not at all graphic or particularly shocking given what you can regularly see on cable. Certainly, 16th century French attitudes towards sex were not nearly as Victorian as ours are today. Part of me was prepared for this to be Gossip Girl in costumes, and I have to say, it’s not quite that either. There are some interesting plot points to be played out and some of the characterizations are intriguing – and then there is the mysterious goings on and intrigues at the court.

    I saw an earlier cut of the Pilot in which I found the music even more jarring than in the screener, so I’m hopeful that they are moving in the right direction. The “Pilot” was shot in Ireland and the sets and exteriors are gorgeous. The series itself is being shot in Toronto. I just returned from Toronto where I visited the local castle – Casa Loma – which could do a credible job of being one of the locations, but they are really going to have a hard time living up to the gorgeous views from Ireland.

    The acting was quite good, even considering some of the silliness of the dialogue. Adelaide Kane as Mary, Queen of Scots; Toby Regbo as Francis; and Torrance Coombs as bastard Sebastian all gave solid performances. Megan Follows as Queen Catherine de Medici gives a terrific performance. She’s a terrific actor, and I’m very excited to have her back on my television screen. Rossif Sutherland as Nostradamus does a very good job. This part could easily go over the top and lose credibility, so his reasonably restrained performance made the role believable. Rounding out the cast are Alan Van Sprang as King Henry II and ladies-in-waiting Anna Popplewell (Lola – easily the silliest name), Caitlin Stasey (Kenna), Celina Sinden (Greer), and Jenessa Grant (Aylee). I was most impressed by Stasey and perhaps least impressed by Grant. However, it’s hard to lay blame on them when they are simply acting like high school valley girls because they’ve been written that way.

    I wouldn’t call Reign either a complete success or a complete failure. It’s definitely worth watching the first episode to decide for yourself if it has enough of what you are interested in: history, mystery, or contemporary/teen drama. The “Pilot” airs this Thursday on the CW at 9pm.

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