PBS’ ‘Victoria’ ex­trav­a­gantly por­trays another young queen, but she’s a bit of a bore

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - KICKOFF - Pho­tos and text from wire ser­vices

“Victoria,” pre­mier­ing Sun­day on PBS’ “Mas­ter­piece,” stars Jenna Cole­man as the teenager who in 1837 be­came Eng­land’s queen for the next six decades. It joins Net­flix’s Queen El­iz­a­beth II drama “The Crown” as yet another es­cape into the op­u­lent, oc­ca­sion­ally melan­choly his­tory of British roy­alty.

“Victoria,” cre­ated and writ­ten by Daisy Good­win, will al­most cer­tainly please pub­lic tele­vi­sion’s core au­di­ence, who are hap­pi­est when hoofs clop, gravel crunches and maids curtsy.

Pre­dictable to the bone — and at times mad­den­ingly re­dun­dant — “Victoria” too of­ten feels like a pe­riod drama about the mak­ing of a pe­riod drama, rather than a deep, au­then­tic breath of rar­efied air.

Good­win de­lays giv­ing Victoria much of a per­son­al­ity for sev­eral episodes. The se­ries opens on the morn­ing she learns that the time has come for her to as­cend the throne and spoiled Victoria im­petu­ously sets about ig­nor­ing the ad­vice of her stressed-out mother, the Duchess of Kent (Cather­ine Flem­ming) and her schem­ing ad­viser, Sir John Con­roy (Paul Rhys). “You have my mother in your pocket, but you will never, ever have me,” Victoria spits at Sir John at one point.

The young queen im­me­di­ately warms to the coun­try’s prime min­is­ter, Lord Mel­bourne (Ru­fus Sewell), who care­fully teaches and ad­vises Victoria on all the things she doesn’t know. Not only does she de­pend on him, she de­vel­ops a se­ri­ous crush on him — as does the viewer, be­cause Sewell is so much more in­ter­est­ing than any­one in the palace.

Good­win chooses to set at least half of “Victoria” down­stairs with the ser­vants, where an­i­mosi­ties and work­ing-class tra­vails play out like pages from a script that “Down­ton Abbey” dis­carded. The se­ries is clearly tasked, at least in the States, with fill­ing the void “Down­ton” left be­hind.

The more you watch of it, the more cold and cal­cu­lat­ing “Victoria” seems, as if was made for mov­ing PBS tote bags rather than mov­ing hearts.

ITV

Jenna Cole­man as Queen Victoria.

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