‘Vic­to­ria’ is a san­i­tized look at Bri­tish monarch

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - DETOURS - ——— Re­view by Verne Gay, News­day

“Vic­to­ria on Mas­ter­piece” 8 p.m. Sun­day on PBS

What it’s about: As the sec­ond sea­son gets un­der­way, Queen Vic­to­ria (Jenna Cole­man) is anx­ious to get back to work af­ter the birth of her first child (also named Vic­to­ria). Prince Al­bert (Tom Hughes) wants to in­spect his reg­i­ment, and Vic­to­ria wants to as well: “It may be your reg­i­ment, Al­bert, but it is my army.” Mean­while, Prime Min­is­ter Peel’s (Nigel Lind­say) war in Afghanistan is go­ing poorly.

Diana Rigg — as the Duchess of Buc­cleuch — joins the cast of this hit, which was cre­ated and writ­ten by Daisy Good­win.

My say: The Bri­tish queen wrote mil­lions of words about her ev­ery­day world, but pos­ter­ity ig­nored most of them by turn­ing her into a frumpy moral­ist in a bon­net. Re­vi­sion­ism is now well un­der­way. Good­win’s best­selling novel on the young Vic­to­ria was fol­lowed by Ju­lia Baird’s “in­ti­mate” bi­og­ra­phy last fall, which co­in­cided with this ITV pro­duc­tion adapted from Good­win’s book.

This sea­son, Cole­man’s young monarch re­mains pas­sion­ate, stub­born and en­gaged. On Sun­day, she wants to know what to do about Afghanistan. In next week’s episode, while look­ing out a win­dow at hun­gry crowds jostling the palace gates, she doesn’t see sub­jects but fel­low hu­mans. She cries when her beloved dog dies. She gath­ers Al­bert in her warm em­brace when per­sonal tragedy strikes his fam­ily.

She’s not just a queen. She’s a saint, and that’s some­times a prob­lem with this well-mean­ing por­trait that re­fuses to throw a lit­tle shade at Vic­to­ria now and then. Baird writes in her bi­og­ra­phy (“Vic­to­ria the Queen”) that she “was a de­ci­sive ruler who com­plained of the weight of her work while boss­ing around her prime min­is­ters daily, if not hourly.”

In its zeal to cor­rect the badly flawed record, “Vic­to­ria” may have over­cor­rected. As good as Cole­man is, there’s not much mys­tery in her por­trait, and not many ques­tions ei­ther. How did Vic­to­ria ul­ti­mately be­come the most pow­er­ful per­son on the planet over the course of nearly a cen­tury?


Jenna Cole­man as the tit­u­lar char­ac­ter in PBS’ “Vic­to­ria on Mas­ter­piece.”

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