Y’all know I have a documented history of binge-watching new shows. This fall, Witches of East End hooked me after a marathon two-day catch up. Over the holidays, I cleared my DVR of the first eight episodes of Reign, and I have to say, it might be a keeper.
The bait for me was the casting. First, I grew up watching Megan Follows, so the fact that she agreed to a regular role on a series was a huge draw. Second, Torrance Coombs, a star of one of my Canadian gems Endgame (now on Hulu–get on it) was one of the three leads. Add to that they were shooting it in Toronto so the potential for HITG goodness was off the rails.
But it wasn’t enough to make me watch live, so I started recording them. I had the impression Reign was going to be sort of a 15th century Gossip Girl replacement. And I wasn’t wrong. But it’s also scary and violent and a reasonably solid companion to The Vampire Diaries, which precedes it. When the show returns with new episodes tonight, I will be watching.
The show is a fictionalized account of Mary Queen of Scots’ courtship with France’s King Francis. Shunted off to a French monastery as a child to avoid being assassinated, Mary lived a quiet adolescence. After a murder attempt, she’s brought to the castle of King Henry, his wife, Queen Catherine (Follows), and their son, Francis, to whom Mary’s been engaged since childhood.
Once there, she’s met by her court of childhood friends (the disconnect there is that if she’s been locked away, how did they all stay her close girlfriends, but that’s never explained) who arrive from Scotland (nobody has a Scottish accent–go with it) to fulfill their obligations as her attendants. All are around 15/16 when the story begins.
Mary and Francis have a fractious start as he’s already sampling the ladies of the court. His supernatural-minded mother maintains the counsel of Nostradamus, who has foreseen Francis’s death if he and Mary go through with their marriage, so that’s a problem. Also complicating things is Francis’ half-brother, Sebastian (Bash), played by Coombs, with whom Mary bonds in an “outsiders unite” sort of way.
The show is definitely soapy as we follow the love lives of Mary and her ladies. And it’s mysterious and spooky as a ghostly girl with a gunny sack mask wanders behind the walls, doling out help to Mary while also murdering one of her friends.
It’s also political (doing the right thing for France and Scotland comes up A LOT) and romantic and gorgeous to look at–the castle is ornate, the grounds are lush, and the fabulous costumes combine period styles with modern touches.
The casting is great.Â Adelaide Kane jumped from her role as Cora on Teen Wolf into the role of Mary and it’s to her credit hat she resonates here as the anchor of the show when she wasn’t really as much a presence on Teen Wolf (it didn’t help that her character was comatose for much of the third season).
Toby Regbo, who plays Francis, is new to me but I like what he does in the role. He’s very good playing a flustered prince finally faced with something he wants but is being blocked from having.
Follows seems to be having a blast as the much maligned Catherine, whom we should probably never trust and who will stop at nothing to protect her son.
Alan Van SprangÂ is great as King Henry, who wastes no time in bedding one of Mary’s ladies and then has to deal with the repercussions of ousting his mistress (Sebastian’s mother) in favor of the girl while his wife just laughs it off and focuses on her plotting.
And finally, Coombs doesn’t disappoint as Bash. He played mousy on Endgame but here he’s all wounded swagger as the bastard son who’s older than Francis but will never be an heir. He’s very good in his scenes with Kane and I can imagine the Mary and Bash relationship might start getting priority over the Francis leg of the triangle because of their chemistry. It’ll be interesting to see if TPTB swing the story their way for a bit.
The guest stars have already been a treat, too. We’ve hadÂ Shawn Doyle (Coombs’s costar in Endgame–but he and Coombs were never onscreen together here–boo!, and recently of Lost Girl) as well asÂ Manolo Cardona (Teo from Covert Affairs), and next week, Greg Bryk who lots of folks are finally finding out about over on Syfy’s new Bitten.
Reign returns tonight at 9/8c on The CW. Here are a couple of sneak peeks as we pick up with Mary and Bash on the run.
Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW
Photo: Marni Grossman/The CW
Photo: Sven Frenzel/The CW
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Kelly McCormack Talks Favorite Moments in A League of Their Own
[Warning: Mild spoilers for season 1.] Now that you’ve had a chance to watch A League of Their Own, here’s the rest of my chat with Kelly McCormack about her favorite moments of the season. Seeing the iconic Peaches uniforms for the first time wasn’t just a goosebump moment for…
John Griffin and Harold Perrineau Talk From on EPIX Season 1 Finale
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] How are we doing, #FROMily? In case you missed it this morning, the very good news is that that cliffhanger will be followed by a second season, which was gifted this morning ahead of the linear broadcast of the finale. I always legitimately appreciate when we…
Elizabeth Saunders Talks EPIX’s From
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the things that makes EPIX’s From such a fun ride is the abundance of Canadian cast members. Elizabeth Saunders, who plays Donna, is a favorite from her turn on the third season of Mary Kills People [streaming on Global TV in Canada and Roku…
Corteon Moore Talks From “Broken Windows, Open Doors”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight’s episode of From had us all in our feels as we learned through flashbacks about the Sophie’s Choice Boyd had to make to save his son, and back in the present as Boyd said his piece with Ellis before heading into the woods with…
Pegah Ghafoori Talks From “All Good Things…”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode] Tonight on From, Fatima’s anniversary celebration turned into a Colony House of horrors when a misguided Kevin let his monster bae in and she promptly killed him and left the window open for her crew. While the party devolved into terror and sent everyone running,…
Shaun Majumder Talks From “Book 74”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight on EPIX’s From, Father Khatri made a bold move, kidnapping Sara instead of turning her in, and then recognizing her as a vessel for some big messages. That startling realization speaks to him on multiple levels–as a man of faith, a man trapped in…
Avery Konrad Talks About Sara’s Struggle in From “Silhouettes”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Over the course of the season so far on From, we’ve witnessed Sara’s battle against the voices telling her to to do terrible things, and tonight we saw her unravel further, threatening the Matthews and lashing out in a moment of terror with horrifying results….
Hannah Cheramy Talks From “Choosing Day”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight, on EPIX’s From, the Matthews participate in the show’s version of the sorting hat, choosing where to call home–the town or Colony House. At the end of the episode, Julie makes the decision to split from her family and instead settle in with Fatima…
Ricky He Talks From “The Way Things Are Now”
[Warning: Spoilers for episode 102 of EPIX’s From.] Epix’s new series From is two episodes in and it’s already laying the groundwork for a seriously spooky season. Tonight’s episode demonstrated the careful balance of relief and horror that the show hits, with our characters’ worst fears realized, just not when…
Catching Up with Ted Lasso and Previewing Season 2
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] The not so dirty little secret about how I approach a new series is that I sometimes make a call based on the headspace I’m in at the time. It’s been a minute since I’ve picked up a show after the first season and then binge…
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…