Being a Whovian, I was delighted to hear that both Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman had two different new shows, and I was even more tickled pink after discovering that both of them, although in two separate television shows, were going to portray members of the royal English family. After all, it is quite interesting that the Eleventh Doctor was going to portray Prince Philip, the spouse of Queen Elizabeth II, in “The Crown”; and that Clara Oswald was going to be portraying Queen Victoria herself in “Victoria”.
Of course, I lost no time in watching “Victoria”, whose eight episode first season just ended on October 9, 2016. Thankfully, the series has been renewed for a second season, and will even have a Christmas special which will air in 2017.
I knew, right from the trailer, that I was going to love the show. Unlike other people, I am not too big on the royal family, and I didn’t know much about Queen Victoria herself, so I was eager and excited to be able to peak behind the curtains and to get to know this iconic monarch more.
I can say, though, that, in the end, the show exceeded all of my expectations, all the way from the great acting to the breathtaking set pieces used in the series.
WARNING: THERE WILL BE HEAVY SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT!
The first season of “Victoria” chronicles the young monarch’s ascension to the throne, her early reign, her marriage to Prince Albert (Tom Hughes), up to the birth of her first child. Aside from this, it also does not shy away from tackling the controversies that arose during those first few years, and it also allowed viewers to have a sneak peek at the lives of the Queen’s household staff.
The series did a very good job at allowing the viewers to discover the more vulnerable side of Victoria, and at some points, I did find myself getting a little bit annoyed with her, and sometimes even siding with Prince Albert, especially towards the latter part of the season.
I have actually never seen Jenna Coleman in anything aside from “Doctor Who”, so watching her portray Victoria was a delight to watch. Coleman definitely has a lot of range in her acting, as she was able to go from, let’s say, childish to loving or vulnerable to a strong independent woman, in a snap. However, one of the things that struck me in her acting was how she could portray such emotion in her eyes, that even though at times she seemed like a strong monarch, the viewers could see that she was still a little bit frightened about some things.
Tom Hughes as Prince Albert was amazing. I had seen him in “The Game” before this, so it was interesting watching him portray the German prince. Again, Hughes allowed us to take a look at his frustrations and his love and devotion towards his wife. I also love how they are showing how he and the Baroness Lehzen (Daniela Holtz), the Queen’s housekeeper and former governess, are beginning to have a little bit of tension with each other on how things should be run. I also love the fact that Albert was the one who encouraged Victoria not to be close minded towards progress and the future, as demonstrated by the whole incident with the locomotive or the train.
Albert, a man of science and reason, was very much interested in modern progress and the idea of having trains throughout England. Victoria was not really that interested in it, but decided to try it and ended up loving it, which taught her to be more open-minded.
I love that scene of her in the locomotive carriage, enjoying herself and waving to her husband as the locomotive picked up speed. I also liked the part where Albert and Sir Robert Peel (Nigel Lindsay) rode the locomotive and Albert stood up while declaring that the locomotive is the future.
The dynamics in the Queen’s household were also interesting to watch, as sometimes it went from mutual loathing of each other and of their German counterparts, to getting to trust each other more and more.
Honestly, if you were to ask me, I’d pick watching the Queen’s household rather than the downstairs portions of “Downton Abbey”.
I became quite interested in the personage of Ferdinand Kingsley’s Charles Francatelli, the chief cook of Queen Victoria’s household until the birth of her first child, as he, apparently, was real, and later on came up with several cook books.
The set pieces and costumes were lavish and wonderful, and I loved how they managed to insert some little “Easter Eggs” into the script, such as Victoria changing Buckingham House to Buckingham Palace, and how they inserted her iconic line “We are not amused”, in one of the episodes.
The music was just awesome, and is probably one of the best TV soundtracks I have heard. It sets the mood whenever needed exceedingly well, and the opening credits, which was also used during Victoria’s coronation, was solemn, haunting and beautiful all at the same time.
All in all, this series hit it out of the park in all areas, from the set pieces, to the music, all the way to the acting.
I definitely cannot wait for it to return next year!
Series Rating: 10/10
Favorite Episode: Ëpisode 7- “The Engine of Change”