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The CW is doing a period drama. On Mary, Queen of Scots. Focusing on her as a teenager. The CW.

Excuse me while I fall over laughing.

From the CW's website:

Hidden between the lines of the history books is the story of Mary Stuart, the young woman the world would come to know as Mary, Queen of Scots. The teenage Mary is already a headstrong monarch ─ beautiful, passionate and poised at the very beginning of her tumultuous rise to power.

Um, no. She might have been Queen of Scotland since she was six days old, but she hadn't "ruled." Her mother, Mary of Guise, had been Regent (and doing a reasonably good job), with Mary being shipped off to France as a child because the English were trying to secure her to marry her to Henry's son, Edward, in what was quaintly called "the Rough Wooing." Mary was born in 1542, that was 1545, so she was what, three or four?

Arriving in France with four close friends as her ladies-in-waiting, Mary has been sent to secure Scotland’s strategic alliance by formalizing her arranged engagement to the French king’s dashing son, Prince Francis. But the match isn’t signed and sealed, it depends more on politics, religion and secret agendas than affairs of the heart. Prince Francis is intrigued by the fiery Scot, but like most young men, he resists the idea of settling down into marriage, especially when he has a history with a lady of the court and his own point of view on the wisdom of an alliance with Scotland. Still, an attraction between Mary and Francis is ignited.

Okay, Mary was actually sixteen when she married Francis, but there was no "resisting the idea of settling down into a marriage" on his part. He and Mary were apparently quite fond of one another, having grown up together, and most of the resistance came from his mother, the truly formidable Catherine de Medici, who didn't particularly care of Mary's Guise relatives as a general rule. Also, spent her childhood in France, so there was no "arriving" for her marriage.

Further complicating things is Bash, Francis’ handsome, roguish half-brother, who has a history of his own ─ despite his illegitimate birth, Bash is his father’s favorite. Though he is all too aware that Francis is the heir to the throne and Mary’s intended, Bash soon develops his own feelings for Mary.

I…have no words.

None of the intrigue at Court is lost on Francis’ mother, Queen Catherine. The strong-willed Queen is aware of Mary’s inflammatory effect on her son and his half-brother, just as she is aware of the dalliances of her husband, King Henry, not only with his mistress, but with other ladies of the Court, as well. For guidance, Queen Catherine turns to her trusted advisor, the seer Nostradamus, who terrifies the Queen with his prophecy that marriage to Mary will cost Francis his life. Catherine is determined to save her son, no matter how many others have to pay with their lives.

Nostradamus saw Henry's death very famously -- a prophecy verse about a golden cage being pierced, and Henry II was killed when a splinter from a jousting lance passed through a hole in the faceplate of his golden tourney helmet and pierced his eye. But I don't remember anything about Francis, who was always somewhat frail and died at the age of 26.

As Mary learns for herself that fierce foes are conspiring to sabotage her marriage to Francis and even threaten her life, she becomes aware of other dark forces. There’s a mysterious presence in the castle; a shrouded figure who may become her unlikely ally. Villagers cope with the brutality of the times by trusting in magic and superstition. And in the dark woods surrounding the French Court lurk those who offer human sacrifice to a being who seems to require blood.

It was rumored that Catherine de Medici practiced Satanism, and there certainly was that element in the French court, though whether it was serious or bored courtiers finding ways to be "perverted" and thumb their nose at the Catholic Church while using an excuse for sexual license is another matter.

With danger and sexual intrigue around every dark castle corner, Mary rallies her ladies-in-waiting – Greer, Kenna, Lola and Aylee – and steels herself, ready to rule the new land and balance the demands of her country and her heart.

Greer, Kenna, Lola and Aylee? Seriously? I mean, since Mary's Scottish maids of honor were famously "the four Marys", I can understand changing the names for some clarity's sake, but…that? Greer, Kenna, Lola and Aylee? Seriously?

For those whom I haven't scared off (or scarred for life), I've embedded a preview below. The costumes are cut-rate versions of The Tudors, who, even though they weren't historically correct, were at least gorgeously made. Here, well, pay special attention to the sleeveless dresses Mary favors for court functions and wonder what they were thinking.

Oh, I'm not dismissing this without watching it. It's going to be an absolutely train wreck and I'm hoping it will be so bad, it'll be funny.

This entry was originally posted at http://spikewriter.dreamwidth.org/852846.html. You may comment here or there using OpenID.

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( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 6th, 2013 01:55 pm (UTC)
Yes... I find the ads very... diverting.

Greer, Kenna, Lola and Aylee? Seriously?

:: dies ::

Sep. 10th, 2013 04:12 am (UTC)
I know, I know. Seriously, this could be a gold mine of badness.
Sep. 6th, 2013 01:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, this one is already train wreck television, just from the promo. And the whole "The CW is doing a period piece." Don't get me wrong, I love Supernatural, but . . . yeah.

I plan to watch the first ep with wine and popcorn while snarking away.
Sep. 10th, 2013 04:23 am (UTC)
A glass of wine sounds like a lovely idea; put you in exactly the right frame of mind and let the snark flow free. :)
Sep. 6th, 2013 02:05 pm (UTC)
Uhm, no. Just...no.

I'll read your review. :)
Sep. 10th, 2013 04:23 am (UTC)
I'll snark so you don't have to watch. :)
Sep. 6th, 2013 02:08 pm (UTC)
Why you gotta be so choicy about your history? ;) I saw the ads for this a few weeks ago, but promptly put it out of my mind.

I would have liked to watch "The White Queen" but we don't get STARZ. I guess I'll just have to, I don't know, read a book? Again I ;)

Keep reviewing. It is, no doubt, 10 times more entertaining that the actual show!

Sep. 10th, 2013 04:42 am (UTC)
My husband was laughing as I read my post to him because he's choicer about his history than me. Come on; I write historical romance. I make stuff up all the time and rearrange events to suit my needs, but it's gotta have some credibility.

Btw, "The White Queen" is actually much more entertaining than I expected, especially since I loathe, detest and despise Phillipa Gregory's writing. But they've done a good job of the script, it seems to be internally consistent, and if people are dumb, there are definitely consequences. I'm not at all sure we'll see that in "Reign."

Btw, the casting may be the gift that keeps on giving. Catherine de Medici is played by Megan Follows, whom many of us may remember as Anne of Green Gables (I have a very warm spot in my heart for that series and Avonlea) and the infamous Lola is played by Anna Popplewell, who played Susan in the Narnia films. Also, there's a rather amusing article here from the TCA where the girl playing Mary says, "she got the part because 'I’m half Scottish' on her mother’s side, and that her mom’s family tartan is Stewart plaid."

Yup, there's a lot to look forward to.
Sep. 6th, 2013 02:36 pm (UTC)
This looks like a dumbed down attempt to capitalize on The White Queen, which I actually quite liked despite their odd portrayal of Richard III.
Sep. 10th, 2013 04:46 am (UTC)
I haven't made it all the way through White Queen yet, but I'm enjoying it. (Which is amazing since I don't think Phillipa Gregory can write her way out of a paper bag.)

I think it's a cross between wanting to capitalize on TWQ and the enthusiasm for Downton Abbey; CW figured there was gold in them thar corsets -- even if the girls don't look like they're wearing one.
Sep. 10th, 2013 01:18 pm (UTC)
I watched the entire White Queen when it was on the Beeb (and might re-watch via on demand since we have Starz). I hated the end, but generally, I loved the thing, much more than the critics said I should have done. And a lot of it was to do with Margaret's crazypants religious fervor.

I may grab a copy of the books, since I'm guessing The White Princess is going to happen if the numbers are good here and in the UK.

I do think you're correct that they're playing for the Downton Abbey crowd as well as the TWQ crowd, whereas TWQ felt like a poor-man's GoT. It was definitely marketed to the US more like GoT than it was in the UK, where it was Yet Another Historical Drama.
Sep. 6th, 2013 03:49 pm (UTC)
I didn't know anything about this show, so thanks for your preview and comments. I read Antonia Fraser's biography of Mary Queen of Scots many years ago, which I found quite interesting. Even the smallest and quickest perusal of online sources shows how inaccurate even the preview info for the series is. But isn't that par for the course?
Sep. 10th, 2013 04:51 am (UTC)
Rule Number One: Don't learn your history from television. :)

Mary's story is a fascinating one, but this clearly ain't it. And the Fraser biography was, and still is, the best entry point for Mary's story, I believe. It's very friendly to the subject without being too laudatory. (I've read far too many others since then and I snerk at the idea of the "tragic, victimized queen" for a number of reasons.)
Sep. 6th, 2013 03:55 pm (UTC)
As an English historian I plan to watch it for my weekly amusement. I plan a lot of derisive snorting going on.

At least the Tudors tried to be accurate with people's names and events (though Henry didn't age or get fat) but this one is just wrong off the bat! lol
Sep. 10th, 2013 04:55 am (UTC)
You and me both. :)

I'm still convinced one of the major sources for The Tudors was Nicholas Saunders "Origin and Rise of the English Schism," and it was quite faithful in many ways to that view of the events, even if I found that view biased and sometimes highly inaccurate. (A history of England's Reformation written by a Jesuit? What did one expect? Henry hugging kittens and puppies?)

This one, though. It's kind of like, "There was a queen of Scotland named Mary, a dauphin named Francis, someone named Nostradamus, and an evil queen and they all lived together in this great era known as The Past."
Sep. 6th, 2013 04:54 pm (UTC)
I think you mean 6 days old not six years old. I do think she was closer to 6 when they sent her off to France. But otherwise, no she had no personal rule over Scotland until after she was the dowager Queen of France. And even then she was quite reluctant. She married Francis when she was 16 and he was a sickly 14 year old. Likely they never even consummated their marriage. As you said, they were quite fond of each other having been raised knowing they would marry. They had no choice in the matter even if they loathed each other anyway.
I'm not quite sure why on earth if anyone were to do a series on Mary, why they would concentrate on France when there is all that real life soap concerning Darnley, his murder and her marriage to Bothwell. There's lust, sex, violence, murder, more sex, conspiracy . .. . And that all happened when Mary was in her 20s!
Sep. 6th, 2013 06:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but people in their 20s are like, old and stuff!
Sep. 6th, 2013 07:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the catch. I've edited it to read "days." And I know that it's six days because I know about the report of the English ambassador who wrote "She is a fair child and like to live." He's Sir Ralph Sadler, who's a special interest of the husband and myself. His life actually I terse tend quite a bit with Mary's since he was the Scottish specialist for both Henry and Elizabeth. Henry even wanted him and his wife to be her caretakers in England. I'll have to dig out my volumes of his letters because there are some juicy things in there about here. (He didn't seem to think she was particularly bright, or at the least, thought she was silly at times,

But, yeah, France isn't anywhere near as juicy as the Scottish stuff -- though it has e advantage of a) not having been done anywhere near as much and, b) she fits the teenage demographic.
Sep. 6th, 2013 07:38 pm (UTC)
Ha, Sir Ralph was perhaps very right about Mary.
It's too bad really, it could have been interesting to instead of making things up they focused on perhaps Mary and Francis fighting to assert themselves over all of the powerful adults who sought to control them. But that would be outside of CW's scope I guess.

Sep. 6th, 2013 05:18 pm (UTC)
Historical accuracy flies right out the window. With all the juicy facts to play around with, why must they re-write history? And the costumes! And the names of the ladies in waiting!!!
Sep. 6th, 2013 07:19 pm (UTC)
Exactly, why go with France of all places? When there's all that real life sex, lust, death and whatnot that happened just a little bit later?
I always wondered why there weren't more recent movies about Mary, all of that would make a great modern movie.
Sep. 6th, 2013 06:29 pm (UTC)
(See icon.)
Sep. 6th, 2013 07:17 pm (UTC)
I was reading with my mouth open in shock until I got to Greer, Kenna, Lola, and Aylee. Then I fell off the chair.
Sep. 6th, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC)
Yikes! I barely made it through two episodes of The Tudors, despite all the pretty.

Or they could have focused on Catherine de Medici and Mary of Guise for a period version of Dance Moms.
Sep. 6th, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
OMG. It makes The Tudors look accurate! Even the castle is hilarious. Definitely mockable, but quite possibly not endurable.
Sep. 6th, 2013 08:35 pm (UTC)

ETA: And those names!!!!!!!!!!

There is so much that could be done with that period, as Dorothy Dunnett well knew. The whole first half of that century is riddled with fascinating stories, many not particularly well-known. (The real story behind The White Devil, for example.) Even stories about teenagers. This is just stupid and insulting to the intelligence. Possibly hilariously so, but still...
Dec. 6th, 2013 08:01 am (UTC)
If they made tv like history books
You do realize that these days they make television shows like this to interest a younger audience so if they made just like the history books no one would really ever want to watch it especially if they barely ever pick up a real book. I've been watching "Reign" since it aired and I enjoy it better than I do the boring factual stuff people put up. Barely anyone in this generation wants facts anymore they just want something they can sit back and enjoy once a week and will keep their interest.
Dec. 6th, 2013 03:22 pm (UTC)
Re: If they made tv like history books
Ah, Anon, Anon, Anon. You missed my point.

I don't object to going away from historical facts. The job of television is to entertain. I object to the fact that they are moving away from historical facts with writing that panders to the lowest common denominator and crap acting. (Megan Fellowes excepted. Catherine de Medici rules.) Given family concerns, I've been unable to write the reviews I intended, but I really need to try to move forward with that. And, yes, I've been watching. I have a season pass, so I get the episodes every week.

In marked contrast, look at Sleepy Hollow. The only relationship they have with the facts of the American Revolution is that, well, there was an revolution and many of the people they name check really did exist. It is, however, marvelously written and some of my favorite moments are seeing how the hell they're going to twist historical fact this time.

If "barely anyone in this generation wants facts anymore" then I weep for you, because, honey, let me tell you from experience that it's going back and whack you in the face at some point in about fifteen years or so with a force that could knock down a brick wall. Facts do matter; maybe not about a queen who was executed 425 years ago to what you're doing today, but facts themselves. Just saying you don't care about facts is not a good attitude to take.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )


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