[In case you’ve Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all “These are reviews.” If you’ve read me, you’ve read my reviews and you know this isn’t what they look like.]
Show:“Reign” (The CW)
Airs:Thursdays at 9 p.m.
The Pitch:“It’s about a teenage Mary Queen of Scots. And she fights crime!” “Sold!” “OK. Now what if she *doesn’t* fight crime?” “Does. Not. Compute.”
Quick Response: There’s just no way to get around it: The CW’s “Reign” is weird. It’s like one of those raunchy historical epics that Showtime or Starz thrive on. Think “Borgias” or “Tudors.” Now remove all of the nudity. And tone the raunchiness down to what you can get away with on The CW (albeit with one scene that’s a bit surprising in its kink). And throw in a Baz Luhrmann/”Marie Antoinette” updated soundtrack and semi-modernized sensibility about girl-power. But now remove the aesthetics that a Luhrmann or a Sofia Coppola might bring you and replace it with a much more conservative look, courtesy of “Casper” auteur Brad Silberling. So at that point, it’s almost like “Hart of Dixie,” if instead of being a doctor leaving NYC for Alabama, Rachel Bilson was a princess leaving a nunnery for France. Only minus the wackiness? But still keeping the swoony love triangle? Look, I’m just trying make this relatable for you so that you can understand why The CW has programmed a hyper-earnest royal teen soap opera set in 1557 after “Vampire Diaries.” Yes, I know “TVD” likes to play dress-up and do flashbacks, but come on! Anyway, this whole thing hinges on the casting of Mary Queen of Scots and, in Aussie soap vet Adelaide Kane, at least The CW has a strong leading lady, capable of being feisty when required and looking period-appropriate in corsets and whatnot. I like her a lot. The love triangle is way out-of-synch, because Torrance Coombs’ Bash is interesting, while Toby Regbo’s Francis is a bland pretty boy. I like all of Mary’s giggly, way-anachronistic hand-maidens, who bring a confusingly 2013 touch to the 16th Century French court, especially when they all try on dresses and bat their eyelashes. [All-grown-up Narnia lass Anna Popplewell is probably the standout.] I’m amused by the silliness and audacity of making Nostradamus (Rossif Sutherland) a major character, but also making the mystic, who would have been an ancient-for-the-time 50-something, predictably CW-broody. And then you have Anne of Green Gables (Megan Follows) in a key role. So there’s that! After the pilot, I don’t have a clue what this show is, how it functions for 22 episodes per season or how The CW expects to get people to watch it. If it were awesome, I’d understand what The CW sees in it. But it’s not. It’s most intriguing for how strangely it fits into its surroundings and the occasional random ways in which it tries to adapt. But other than a strong interest in Kane and vague curiosity about how they intend to play the couple minor mysteries from the pilot, I really don’t get “Reign” as a CW show. The CW wanted the fantasy-tinged “The Selection,” couldn’t get it right on two occasions and so they “Selection”-ized history. Kinda.
Desire To Watch Again: If, say, History were airing “Reign,” I might not be inclined to give it more than another episode at the most. Because it’s The CW, I have a perverse curiosity that goes beyond the quality of the show.
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