Victorious Blog, Episode 1: “Doll 123”

January 16, 2017 Jonna Mayberry Leave a Comment

1837: The monarchy is in crisis. William IV has retreated to Windsor. The heir to the throne is his teenage niece Alexandrina …

Much like a coffee devotee content with a lukewarm cup of joe,  I’ll admit that I’ll be content with repeats of Downton Abbey for quite some time. The history, the British humor, the romance – it never really gets old. But with the release of Victoria, Masterpiece is back to stoke the fire with a new PBS treasure, and I’m happy to dive in to a new soon-to-be-favorite show. 

The eight-hour drama, hailed as “a sparkling gem in PBS’ crown” by The New York Post, made its debut last night (watch the full episode online). With a footprint of about two hours, settling in for Victoria’s premiere was a commitment, but well worth the time. In a not-so-gentle nod to the episode’s title, “Doll 123” – here are my three favorite elements from the Victoria premiere. (Numerous spoilers ahead!)

1. The honesty. Yes, she’s a Queen. But Victoria is also relatable. She’s stubborn and, of course, a bit inexperienced because of her youth. But above all, she’s bright, strong and determined.

Watching Jenna Coleman play Victoria feels like getting a secret glimpse into the young Queen’s mind – and for good reason. PBS explains that Victoria screenwriter Daisy Goodwin drew inspiration for the series from Victoria’s own diary, which she kept from the age of 13 until her death:

So if you have trouble believing how spirited – and sexy – the queen’s life was, check the source. Just know that you’re going to need a lot of time: over her lifetime, she filled 121 volumes!” (Read more: Must Knows: Everything You Need to Know Before Watching Victoria.)

2. The details. The intro is beautiful. The music was written by Martin Phipps, who also scored the BBC adaptations of Sense and Sensibility and Oliver Twist – as well as Wallander – and features vocals from the British musical ensemble the Mediaeval Baebes.

I got distracted by the gorgeous costumes a mere 10 minutes into the premiere.  While there’s no doubt that the costuming is impeccable, anything else would be doing the fashion-forward Queen a disservice. Queen Victoria is the woman behind white wedding dresses, having chosen to wear white on her wedding day despite widespread criticism (criticism?! surprise, surprise.)

Wedding dress fittings @official_itvvictoria @mammothscreen #bts #recreation #victoriasweddingdress

A photo posted by Jenna Coleman (@jenna_coleman_) on

3. Victoria and Lord M. Having grown up with characters like Sir John Conroy and her domineering mother, Victoria is understandably a little tired of getting stomped on. It’s no surprise that the young Queen is untrusting of Lord Melbourne’s early offers to assist.  But when Victoria confidently says, “Thank you Lord Melbourne, but when I require assistance, I will ask for it,” he listens. And a little while later, she does indeed ask. 

It was lovely to see the moments the two shared during such a pivotal time in Victoria’s life.  As Victoria is getting ready to approach the balcony to greet her subjects for the first time as Queen, she turns to Lord Melbourne to share a bit of her strong will with him before she shares it with the world: “I do not like the name Alexandrina; I wish to be called Victoria.”

There’s no doubt that Lord Melbourne is (and was) a flawed man in many respects. He’s endured the loss of a child, a failed relationship, scandals aplenty and political problems. But despite these issues, Victoria trusts him, and in Victoria’s world, trust is no small feat.

There’s a lot to look forward to in the next months. The first episode introduced us to a tapestry of characters (Here’s a handy slideshow to recap the main players). There’s a hearty dose of Upstairs, Downstairs-esque drama, numerous players attempting to sabotage Victoria’s rule – even questioning her sanity, and the beauty of watching history in a new light. Oh, and newfangled gas lamps, and minor rat problem. We’ve never seen Victoria quite like this before, and Victoria on Masterpiece is shaping up to be an addicting look at the Queen’s life.

I’ll be back next week to talk about Episode 2, “Brocket Hall,” which promises to delve deeper into the complexities of Victoria’s friendship with Lord Melbourne and follow the Queen as she ponders marriage.

Until then, what would you add to the above list? What was your favorite part of the premiere? Share it below!

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