Victoria: Brocket Hall
January 23, 2017 7:41 AM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Dodging both Chartists and suitors, Victoria grows into her royal role, as she obsesses over Elisabeth. As she faces pressure to marry, Victoria's friendship with Lord Melbourne grows more complex. And an act of compassion adds to Australia's population.
posted by Thorzdad (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This felt much like a "moving the pieces" episode to get us to Albert appearing in her life. Conroy gets shipped-off to Ireland, mommy gets a raise in her allowance, the Russians go home, etc.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:52 AM on January 23, 2017

Indeed, pieces were moved and everything was set up for Albert. On its own, this episode was so-so, but it was necessary for the long-term.

I did enjoy the Rooks scene, however. How much basis it has in fact, I have no idea.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:58 PM on January 23, 2017

I suppose that's going to be a pretty common feeling for those of us not steeped in Victorian history. I kind of find it hard to believe the queen could leave the palace unaccompanied and unnoticed to run to the side of a single man like that. Then again, it's such a specific scene.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:11 PM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

In terms of the historical details, this series is not quite as bad as Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown, which is pretty much entirely wrong. But it's not for lack of trying on Victoria's part. Why is Uncle Ernest still in England in 1839, when he should have decamped for Hanover (of which he's the king) in 1837? And surely that Prince George he's pushing on the Queen is his son, not his nephew? Why is there suspense about Victoria marrying Albert, and why is she sulking about it? Why on earth is she running after Lord Melbourne, who was pushing sixty and would have looked more like Uncle Leopold than Rufus Sewell? (No, she didn't run off incognito to declare a grand passion for him.) Why on multiple earths is she dancing with Sir John Conroy?

Watching period films and TV as a Victorianist is kind of hazardous to the health...

That being said, the production team is putting together a classic English monarchy biopic (or bioseries, in this case) narrative conflict: the monarch's struggle to reconcile the private self's needs and desires with the public iconic image, which unifies an otherwise potentially divided nation by appearing to stand outside mere party politics. The monarch rules thanks to God (and thus stabilizes the nation), whereas Parliament rules thanks to the ballot box (and thus is vulnerable to human frailty). Hence the lecture Queen V got from Melbourne in the previous episode. This is also the point of The Crown, which I think executed the same plot more successfully. While I'm obviously exasperated by the ginned-up behind-the-scenes maneuverings, they're intended to highlight Victoria's transformation from private to public self, as she learns how to negotiate the corruptions of court and political life. (Some of it is also intended to counteract early moments in the Queen's history in which she didn't come off so well, like the Bedchamber Crisis and the Flora Hastings scandal.)

Like a lot of monarchy films, the series seems unable to handle either working-class radicalism or lower-case r republicanism without making the proponents look scuzzy. In general, the relationship between Victoria's development and her historical moment isn't handled as well here as it was in The Crown. (Also, did they not have enough money to hire sufficient crowd extras? The Newport Rising scene was not good.)
posted by thomas j wise at 2:44 PM on January 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

I kind of find it hard to believe the queen could leave the palace unaccompanied and unnoticed

I dunno, it seems like it would actually have been much easier to do that back then. Without television to overly familiarize the general public to exactly what she looked like, how many would've actually recognized her had she walked right by on the street? (assuming she was dressed down in common clothes.)
posted by dnash at 8:37 AM on January 24, 2017

Without television to overly familiarize the general public to exactly what she looked like, how many would've actually recognized her had she walked right by on the street?

...Yes and no. There was an enormous market for portrait engravings of the queen, both cheap and high end; while some of them bore a...dubious...resemblance to the woman in question, others were a strong likeness.

That being said, the Queen did travel incognito fairly frequently, but such travels were almost always done under assumed aristocratic names, not as one of the hoi polloi.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:37 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I dunno, don't her diaries suggest she had a bit of crush on Melbourne? She was kept so sheltered, and he was this sort of debonair man-of-the-world-type. There's a little excerpt of her entries about her ascension and coronation here, and his name comes up about a dozen times.
"I like him very much and feel confidence in him. He is a very straightforward, honest, clever and good man.....When my good Lord Melbourne knelt down and kissed my hand, he pressed my hand and I grasped his with all my heart, at which he looked up with his eyes filled with tears and seemed much touched, as he was, I observed, throughout the whole ceremony.
posted by Diablevert at 10:55 AM on January 30, 2017

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