If one were to do an overview of human history, they would note that for every three or four men who sat on the throne, there is one woman who sat on the throne.
The television series Reign (2013-2017) is a loose (and I mean very loose) retelling of the story of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane). When she is a teenager, she is sent to the court of France to marry her betrothed, Francis de Valois (Toby Regbo). Along the way, she will encounter both sexual and political innuendo.
I wrote about this series back in 2014, defending its merits. Looking back, I can now see the major flaws in this program. It is nothing but a teenage soap opera set in the 16th century. In the beginning, the initial draw was Megan Follows (Catherine de’ Medici). Her portrayal of Anne Shirley in the Anne of Green Gables series from the 1980s and 1990s is still my favorite version of the character.
But even that was not enough to keep me watching to the very end.
For many young girls, L.M. Montgomery’s classic novel, Anne of Green Gables is the literary gateway drug to more mature novels.
It’s no surprise that in 1985, the book was made into a television movie. Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert (Colleen Dewhurst and Richard Farnsworth) are a middle-aged, never married brother and sister duo. With onset of time and age, they send for a boy to adopt and help around the farm. Instead they get an imaginative, dramatic and impulsive ginger girl named Anne Shirley (Megan Follows). Matthew quickly takes Anne into his heart as the daughter he never had, but Marilla is the harder nut to crack. Marilla agreed to keep Anne, but only if she acts as a young lady should (the key word here is but). That is where the fun begins and that is where Anne Shirley become Anne Of Green Gables.
For many fans of the books (myself included), this adaptation is the definitive adaptation. Megan Follows is Anne Shirley and will always be Anne Shirley. There is something iconic and wonderful about this adaptation. It holds up against the book and is everything a filmed adaptation of a book should be.
Starring Martin Sheen and Sara Botsford as the supposedly curmudgeonly brother and sister duo Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert and Ella Ballentine as the title character, Anne Shirley is an orphaned girl adopted by Matthew and Marilla. They were expecting a boy to help them on the farm, what they got was a red-headed, uber imaginative, fast talking girl.
While the trailer is promising, only time will tell if this adaptation lives up to its predecessor.
My only wishes are that this new adaptation remains true to the books and Megan Follows has a cameo.
Writing a historical drama for television is like walking a fine line. One hand, there has to be a certain level of accuracy. But on the other hand, the story should be engaging so as not to feel like a documentary.
Premiering last fall, Reign is the story of the teenage Mary, Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane) who is betrothed to Francis, The Dauphin Of France (Toby Regbo). Publicly, Francis’s mother, Queen Catherine (Megan Follows) is all for the marriage, but will do anything to protect her child, including finding ways to secretly undo the betrothal. Added to the mix is Francis’s half brother, Sebastian (Torrance Combs) and Mary’s ladies in waiting, Kenna (Caitlin Stasey), Greer (Celina Sinden) and Lola (Anna Popplewell), who are dealing with their own issues.
Keep in mind that this show is on the CW. There are certain similarities to the Tudors, but given that this is a basic channel show and the aimed for audience is teenagers, there are also differences. Does that mean it is entirely historically accurate? No. But it is fun show and sometimes after a long day, I just want to watch TV and relax.