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Reign: Season 1

Warner Bros. // Unrated // September 23, 2014
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Kyle Mills | posted January 3, 2015 | E-mail the Author
I'm a fan of period pieces. Honestly, I find them to be just a huge blast to watch and riveting television for the most part, but I'm going to say this right off the bat, If you're a history buff, you're probably going to hate Reign, just throw any preconceived notions you have about the show straight out the window. so when I first heard about Reign, I was pretty excited, however that came to a screeching halt when I heard that it was on The CW, a channel that can't seem to get any show right. I am NOT a fan of the CW... at all. While I do love Arrow, the interference from CW irritates me to no end, it could be amazing had it been on a premium network. The same problems in that show are apparent here and make no mistake about it, this is a angst laden soap opera that just has a historical setting. The premise of Reign is that Mary, Queen of Scots returns to the French court as a young adult at a time when the English throne is up for grabs, and the King of France, King Henry, wants to push her into claiming her right to that throne so that she and his son can together rule France, Scotland, and England.

This historically inaccurate series follows the early exploits of Mary, Queen of Scots played by Adelaide Kane) during her formative years living in France, which is under the iron fist of the treacherous King Henry (played by Alan Van Sprang) and his manipulating wife, Queen Catherine (played by Megan Follows.) The Series opens in 1557, with a plot against Mary's life, after a failed poisoning assassination attempt on her life, Mary is hidden away for several years until it's time that she must save her country. To do this, she must be taken to France to wed it's prince, Francis (played by Toby Regbo) but soon instead finds herself smitten to his brother, Sebastian, who is known as "Bash" (played by Torrance Coombs.)

The overarching plot in this first season is pretty straight forward, Everything seems to be falling into place for Queen Mary to ascend to the throne of France, that is until Queen Catherine's adviser and seer, Nostradamus (played by Rossif Sutherland), tells her that Mary and Francis's nuptials will spell doom for their family. Catherine decides she must launch a nefarious and backstabbing plot to rid their family of Mary before she threatens her throne and kingdom.

In this jam packed first season, Mary, Queen of Scots must deal with multiple assassination attempts, friends who become traitors, death, manipulation, a love triangle, a crazed King who wants her for himself and rule a country, and that's just the main plot! Outside of that, the show is riddled with subplots... a few of the notable side stories Nostradamus's various prophecies, Mary's ladies in waiting, Aylee (played by Jenessa Grant), Greer (played by Celina Sinden), Kenna (played by Caitlin Stasey), and Lola (played by Anna Popplewell) trying to find love themselves, one of which makes a move on King Henry himself, and the evil lurking in the woods surrounding the kingdom. Suffice it to say, there is a lot going on and the series never relents for one minute.

All 22 episodes presented in this set are spread across 5 DVDS. Minor spoilers in the episode synopsis'

Disc 1:

1. Pilot - Mary Queen of Scots must travel to France to formalize the arranged engagement to the King to be, Prince Francis.

2. Snakes In the Garden - Queen Catherine fears her secret may be compromised and must take measures to secure her safety; meanwhile, Mary seeks assurance from Francis regarding their arranged marriage.

3. Kissed - Mary seeks help from King Henry when England threatens Scotland's borders. When he refuses, she receives an offer from a suitor named Tomas looking to jeopardize her future at the throne.

4. Hearts and Minds - Tomas' true intentions are brought to light; Mary's resolve is put to the test in an attempt to get out of her arranged marriage.

5. A Chill in the Air - Mary is jealous when a woman named Olivia who is from Francis's past returns with intentions to get him back; Aylee finds herself in a compromising position with Queen Catherine.

Disc 2:

6. Chosen - Francis finds himself jealous of the growing attraction between Mary and Sebastian, pushing him into the arms of Olivia; An attempt on Mary's life causes Queen Catherine to take drastic measures.

7. Left Behind - A coup is staged on the castle, bringing Francis and Mary closer to one another.

8. Fated - Nostradamus foresees someone close to Mary will soon die; Clarissa makes a move against the Queen.

9. For King and Country - Catherine decides she must put an end to the love between Mary and Francis at any cost; King Henry must make a difficult decision that will affect the entire country.

10. Sacrifice - Catherine is suspected of an assassination attempt on Sebastian's life; Mary tries to save an imprisoned pregnant women who has ties to Sebastian.

Disc 3:

11. Inquisition- Secrets come to light as Catherine sells out Sebastian to save herself, while Mary and Sebastian set their sights on exposing Catherine's own dark past; Meanwhile, Lola attempts to stop Catherine from retaliating.

12. Royal Blood - Clarissa kidnaps the Queen and King's children with tragic results; Lola and Francis grow closer.

13. The Consummation - Mary must choose between Francis and Sebastian, and realizes she must put her countries needs before her own; Mary's mother arrives in France with her own agenda on what she should do.

14. Dirty Laundry - Mary and her King return from their honeymoon to find out someone is pregnant with his child.

15. The Darkness - Sebastian witnesses horror in the forest; Women in the castle are presented with potential suitors; Kenna fears for her life after she rekindles her relationship with King Henry.

Disc 4:

16. Monsters - Francis confronts the horror Sebastian witnessed in the forest; King Henry becomes infatuated with a servant who wins a "Queen for a day" contest, with disastrous results.

17. Liege Lord - Mary finds out her mother's hidden agenda with Queen Catherine and the influence its had on her marriage clause.

18. No Exit - Mary's brother visits; Francis uncovers a plot against Mary; King Henry's deranged spiral continues; Catherine and Kenna take things in their own hands regarding Penelope, the winner of the "Queen for a day" contest; Nostradamus has another prophecy.

19. Toy Soldiers - Mary receives bad news regarding that her mother's kingdom is under siege, she decides to step in and help regardless of the repercussions.

20. Higher Ground - Francis rallies troops for the looming war against England.

Disc 5:

21. Long Live The King - Mary and Catherine form an unlikely alliance to deal with the increasingly crazed King Henry.

22. Slaughter of the Innocence - King Henry wants Mary to himself and will kill any who stand in his way; Mary, Francis, and Catherine stage a coup to overthrow Henry.

- Positives:

+ The actors are excellently cast with the standouts being Alan Van Sprang and Megan Follows' King Henry and Queen Catherine, respectively.

+ Production values are terrific.

+ Reign is purely a guilty pleasure show that is strangely addicting.

- Negatives:

- Very little in the way of being historically accurate, but it doesn't really set out to be.

- The CW clich├ęs including forced love triangles, trendy current pop music and fashion. This is a historical period piece, I found it jarring that they sacrificed that in favor of appealing the show to modern 13 year old girls.

- Certain elements were underdeveloped like King Henry.

Video and Audio:
Reign: The Complete First Season Presented in its original 1.78:1 broadcast ratio in an anamorphic widescreen. The color palette is vivid and varied, while the blacks are bold and strong.

The audio is presented with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix that is quite good. The dialogue is crisp and clean throughout and there were no signs of any type of distortions or dropouts on playback.

There are optional subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Thai and Portuguese.

Extras: Two featurettes are included:

Reign: The Making of a Queen - A behind the scenes featurette with the cast and crew discussing the shows story and it's cast.

- The Authenticity of Reign: Recreating the 16th Century - A behind the scenes featurette focusing on the aesthetics of the series and the locations where the show shoots.

- Deleted scenes.

Reign: The Complete First Season sadly ends up being nothing more than a guilty pleasure to watch. It has a decent cast who give solid performances across the board, aesthetically gorgeous production designs, a good setting and a decent story. However, it gets bogged down by the horrible network it resides on, sloppy execution, historical inaccuracies, and forced storylines that have no place being in the narrative of the story. However, if you want a typical CW show, despite not being the best the network has to offer, I'd recommend it. Though to a casual viewer, Rent it.

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