Mary Queen Of Scots

October 18, 2013 by  

Mary Queen Of Scots, Every new television season should have a camp classic, but it’s been hard to find one among the grindingly dull shows trotted out this fall. ABC’s “Betrayal” had promise, with some risible plots and ripe performances (Henry Thomas as a brain-damaged scion and James Cromwell as his imperious dad are a hoot), but it’s just not enough fun.

A strong candidate finally arrives Thursday night. “Reign” is a CW drama about the tumultuous teenage years of Mary, Queen of Scots, which may be all you need to hear. But there’s more! Would it surprise you that Mary’s ladies in waiting are named Greer, Kenna, Aylee and Lola? It sure would have surprised the French court in 1557.

“Reign” is at heart the story of Mary and her posse, Scottish girls just trying to have fun despite the moldy constraints of the French monarchy. (Mary is betrothed to the king’s son Francis.) Their high spirits lead them to take to the dance floor during a royal wedding, prancing in a circle like bridesmaids at a Long Island wedding hall. Later, in an already notorious scene, one of them is so overcome by the public viewing of the new couple’s consummation that she has to run upstairs to masturbate.

Mary (the Australian actress Adelaide Kane) and Francis (the British actor Toby Regbo) are just two crazy kids who might marry someday – assuming France still wants an alliance with Scotland – if they can survive the palace intrigues and the opposition of Francis’s mother, who’s been told by Nostradamus, no less, that Mary will be the death of her son.

In the end, though, “Reign” is kept from being a true camp classic by the strong house style of CW, whose young-adult soap operas have an overriding strain of melancholy (catnip to angsty 18- to 34-year-olds). That, and the network’s quality control: none of its shows are great, but none of them are entirely laughable, either. “Reign” looks good (the pilot was shot in Ireland), moves smoothly and features CW’s characteristic bland but competent performances. Alas.

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