HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Reign: The Complete First Season
HTS Overall Score:69
The CW is a bit of a hit or miss situation with their TV shows, with a sometimes home run and at other times they fall too much into the teen soap opera genre. Recently they’ve had a VERY good run with “Arrow” and “The Originals” was a huge step up from “The Vampire Diaries” and with “Reign” being their newest show I was hoping for something as good as “The Originals”. Unfortunately what we have here is another teen romance soap opera in the guise of a period piece drama. I saw Megan Follows (every kid from the 90’s new her as Anne from “Anne of Green Gables”) and was instantly intrigued, but the show mainly focuses on pretty teenagers, doing stupid teenager things, while trying to gain the attention of pretty people.
The show focuses on Mary (Adelaide Kane), Queen of Scots, in her formative years. Hidden in a convent since her 9th birthday to protect her, she is now called back to the French court, in her 15th year after a failed assassination attempt. Now she and her three besties, who act as her maids at waiting, must travel the twisted highways of the court in order to survive and ascend to her rightful place as Queen, alongside her betrothed, Prince Francis (Toby Regbo) and his illegitimate half-brother, Sebastian (Torrance Combs).
The show is really just teenage slop slipped in under the guise of a period drama. We’ve got everything here. Murderous intentions, a girl in over her head, a handsome prince, and of course, the obligatory love triangle for no apparent reason. It REALLY is pretty people doing pretty things to attract the attention of more pretty people. If you liked “The Borgias” or “The Tudors” I wouldn’t go in with high expectations as the show really is the teenage version of “The Vampire Diaries”, but with mad kings and castles instead of blood sucking vampires. There are some good points to the show though. King Henry (Alan Van Sprang) is loads of fun to watch as King Henry (and he seems to revel in the idea of playing up the “mad” King part) and Megan Follows is really quite well cast as the manipulative Queen Catherine. As the political intrigue comes to a peak she is deliciously twisted and the highlight of the show. On the downside, the romantic entanglements really get wearing as the angst and melodrama goes up to level 11. Some of you may recognize Anna Popplewell playing Lola, a handmaiden to Mary (Anna was Susan from the “Chronicles of Narnia” films) and a few other cameos from other, more well-known movies pop their heads in for a peak.
I love period dramas, and I’ll watch them all. From “The Tudors” to “The Borgias” to “Spartacus” to whatever falls in between. I really have no problems with romance in a story either. I’m a sap and will enjoy a lot of things, but “Reign” actually was a bit of a chore to get through, as the show took itself way too seriously. Had it focused on being a bit more campy, the ludicrously teenager moments would have been much more palatable, but being a soap opera and the inclusion of horrendous pop music really dragged the show down from being kind of fun and cheesy to me banging my head against the wall wondering if I was at the final episode yet.
Episode Rundown is as follows
Snakes in the Garden
Hearts and Minds
A Chill In the Air
For King and Country
Long Live the King
Slaughter of Innocence
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=28537[/img]For a DVD release “Reign: The Complete First Season” looks exceptionally good. The show tends to take place in dark and gloomy castles for the most part, only lit by candles and some windows, so it’s not going to look bright and cheery. Still there is plenty of fine detail to go around and the intricacies of the brocade and leather clothing shows up nicely. Colors are nicely saturated and full of pop, when they aren’t covered in shadows, and the skin tones are quite natural looking and pleasing to the eye. Black levels are very well done, although I did notice some color banding and some black crush in some of the really dark scenes. Nothing wild, but still noticeable. I've been spoiled by some of the incredible Hi Def presentations available on other CW shows, but “Reign”, even though relegated only to DVD manages to eek the most out of its 480 lines of resolution.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=28553[/img]The audio fares about the same as the video, with a very impressive 5.1 Dolby Digital track for our listening pleasure. The show isn’t a wild action epic like “Arrow” or “Person of Interest”, fore it lends itself to large portions of dialogue with the only ambient noises being the rustling of dress or the crashing of a door in an argument. Still, there are plenty of moments where the surrounds come out to play, especially during many of the outdoor scenes. LFE is mild, but very serviceable and the dialogue was impeccable. It’s a very good track, and does the job quite nicely with several moments where it’s really allowed to shine.
• Reign: The Making of a Queen
• The Authenticity of Reign: Recreating the 16th Century
• Deleted Scenes
“Reign” was paired with another new CW show this year, “The Originals”, and I had a blast with that one. So color me surprised and rather disappointed when “Reign” turned out to be another “Vampire Diaries” situation. There were some high points to the show, and I could try and extrapolate how this would be a good recommendation, but I have to come to the honest conclusion that this is a show aimed at teenagers. The audio and the vide are quite good, so if you’re a fan I can’t see a reason for you not to check this out, but for casual people taking a curious peak, I’d give it a skip unless you want to check it out on Netflix.
Starring: Megan Follows, Adelaide Kane, Torrance Koom
Created by: Laurie McCarthy, Stephanie Sengupta
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG 2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 913 minutes
Own it on Blu-ray™, DVD & Digital HD September 23
Buy Reign: The Complete First Season DVD on Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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