The year is 1837. The King, after a long illness, is dead. The crown now passes to his niece, Alexandrina Victoria, who at only 18 years of age must take the reins of the world's greatest empire. This is the story told by the new Masterpiece series, Victoria.
Victoria, written and directed by Daisy Goodwin, follows the early years of the monarch's rein. Here she is as little more than a young girl, at once petulant and domineering, as she navigates the decisions she must make, the first of which is deciding on a name for herself.
She's surrounded by would-be advisors, most of whom she spurns, but for the influence of Lord Melbourne, the embattled prime minister, played with quiet grace by Rufus Sewell. Jenna Coleman, of Doctor Who fame, stars as Victoria, and does an admirable job of portraying a woman who, though young and inexperienced, slowly grows into her power.
The series shines a spotlight on how society treats young women in general. One would-be advisor tries to dismiss her, saying "A talent for watercolors is not going to strike terror into the hearts of our enemies." And there are numerous attempts to limit her, first by trying install her mother as her regent, then in marrying her off to a husband that will control her. She resists these attempts by sheer force of will, and succeeds in, as she says, in "proving her worth every single day."
There are shades of Downton Abbey in the presentation, as the servants who run the house are also spotlighted, including Eve Myles, late of Torchwood, who plays the royal dresser. Yet the focus always remains on Victoria herself, and the sometimes impossible decisions she has to make, trying to decide as to what type of Queen she is to be.
Victoria debuts on Masterpiece Sunday, January 15th, at 9 p.m. on KIXE Channel 9.