For someone who doesn’t watch anything other than crime, (with the occasional comedy), choosing this show was a huge self-surprise. It’s not that I have no interest in this genre. I have always been intrigued by history and I am greatly interested in reading and watching interesting snippets about various historical events and the significant people involved. But it’s highly difficult to find a history based work which captures and sustains my attention for a long time. There are several historical television shows. I have tried watching many of them but couldn’t get past few minutes. Victoria emerges victorious!
Very obvious from the title, Victoria is about Queen Victoria and her life. In this eight-part season, we get to see the conditions behind Victoria ascending the throne, her struggle to understand the responsibility and the power of the Chair, her various relatives and their relationships and Victoria’s wedding. The show is expected to come back for season 2.
In 1837, with the death of William IV, Alexandrina Victoria, his niece, becomes the sole heir to the throne. At 18, Victoria has no experience or knowledge about the administration. But there is determination. There is thirst for power. Having lived under the constant supervision of her German mother, she wants to break all the shackles and be independent. The first decision she makes is to move to The Buckingham Palace. The entire story takes place there. She gets advice from many but the first person she gets to trust is Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister. There is a beautiful relationship that’s weaved between them. Victoria becomes completely dependent on him. Initially its purely professional, then it becomes mentor-mentee and slowly it turns into love. But Lord M, as Victoria calls him, knows his place. He moves away but making sure Victoria reaches a place of confidence and clarity.
We have loads of Kings and Dukes who make appearances. Duke of Cumberland is the evil conniving Uncle whose only motive is to plot against the Queen and prove her incompetent. He is next in the race to the throne and he wants to make complete use of it. Certain scenes involving the Duke is actually funny. There is King Leopold of Belgium, Victoria’s maternal Uncle, who is very keen to get Victoria married to his son, Albert. With questions raised on her ability to rule independently, and with the threat of appointing a Regent looming, Victoria agrees to get married. Albert is a serious and a sane guy. After the initial arguments and misunderstandings, they both fall in love and their grand marriage takes place.
The show until this is very interesting with every scene having something to offer. As an audience, we quickly become part of the Victorian era. But after the wedding, the focus shifts more on Albert. Albert is German and he isn’t liked by many. He doesn’t want to be just the Queen’s husband. He wants to be part of the administration, wants to play an active role in handling social issues. There are problems regarding his allowance which is very engrossing. Victoria and Albert get into some arguments but it’s later resolved fine. Victoria is sceptical of becoming a mother. She is scared of the procedure involved in pregnancy and delivery but eventually at the end of the season, she gives birth to Victoria II.
The series showcases the distinction between Monarchy and Government rule in a very compelling manner. The Queen holds a lot of power but it’s the Government which runs the country. It is crucial to maintain a healthy relationship between the Crown and the Parliament. The life in the Victorian era is attractively depicted. The palaces, the carriages, the costumes, the codes of conduct, and the parties and lifestyle is portrayed impeccably. The parallel stories of the servants and aids of the Queen is interesting enough but sometimes unnecessary.
There are loads of relationships which stand out. First is between Victoria and Lehzen, the Baroness. For Lehzen, Victoria is like her child and then the Queen. Victoria looks up to Lehzen as her mother and seeks guidance. I have already mentioned about Victoria and Lord M. Victoria and her pet dog, Dash, is very cute. When Victoria is with Dash, we see her as the little girl, innocent and playful. Victoria and her mother is interesting. Somewhere there is disappointment in that relationship.
Jenna Coleman justifies her role as Victoria. She confidently carries the entire show on her shoulder. But at times I found her trying too much and hence off character. Rufus Sewell as Lord Melbourne plays his role with deftness. A major disappointment would be Tom Hughes as Albert. He comes across dull and disinterested. The rest of the cast play their parts well.
The background score is top notch. The title track is absolutely fantastic. It effortlessly transports you back in time.
The writing is very effective. The dialogues are precise. But the script does waver in the last two episodes. Cinematography is good but I felt it could have been better.
Victoria is a very interesting for the major part. Not considering the last two episodes which I felt was wasted, I think this show definitely deserves a huge applause for the immense hardwork and brilliant portrayal of Queen Victoria and her life. I read Victorian Era brought about many industrial developments and hence I am waiting to see how young little Victoria proves worthy of being The Queen in the next season.