Reign (TV series)
|Opening theme||"Scotland" by The Lumineers|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||62 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||42 minutes|
|Original network||The CW|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original release||October 17, 2013 – present|
Reign is an American historical fantasy romance television series following the early exploits of Mary, Queen of Scots. The series, created by Stephanie SenGupta and Laurie McCarthy, airs on The CW and premiered as part of the 2013–14 American television season. The leading roles are played by a combination of Australian, Canadian, English and New Zealand actors. On March 11, 2016, The CW renewed the series for a fourth season, which is set to premiere on February 10, 2017.
The highly fictionalized series follows the early exploits of Mary, Queen of Scots. The first season opens in 1557, with Mary living in French court and awaiting her marriage to Prince Francis, to whom she has been engaged since they were six. Mary has to contend with changing politics and power plays, as well as her burgeoning feelings for Francis and the romantic attentions of Francis's bastard half-brother, Bash. Francis's mother, Catherine de' Medici, secretly tries to prevent the marriage following Nostradamus's confidential prediction that the marriage will lead to Francis's death. The series also follows the affairs of Mary's Scottish handmaidens Kenna, Aylee, Lola, and Greer, who are searching for husbands of their own at court.
The second season opens after the death of King Henry II, and follows the rise of Francis and Mary as King and Queen of France and Scotland. Together they have to balance their marriage with their roles as monarchs, and deal with the rising religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants, as well as the ambitions of the rival House of Bourbon for the throne of France.
The third season follows Francis's declining health and death partway through the season, leaving Mary a widow and struggling to find new footing since she's no longer bound to France as its queen. Francis's brother Charles is crowned the new underaged king, with Catherine as regent. The third season also introduces the court of Queen Elizabeth of England, who plots against Mary, fends off marital prospects, and deals with her secret love affair with Robert Dudley.
Cast and characters
- Adelaide Kane as Mary, Queen of Scots
- Megan Follows as Catherine de' Medici
- Torrance Coombs as Sebastian "Bash" (seasons 1–3)
- Toby Regbo as Francis II of France (seasons 1–3)
- Celina Sinden as Greer (seasons 1–3)
- Anna Popplewell as Lola (seasons 1–3)
- Caitlin Stasey as Kenna (seasons 1–2)
- Alan van Sprang as Henry II of France (main season 1; recurring season 2)
- Jenessa Grant as Aylee (season 1)
- Jonathan Keltz as Leith Bayard (recurring season 1; main season 2–3)
- Craig Parker as Stéphane Narcisse (seasons 2–)
- Rose Williams as Claude of France (seasons 2–)
- Sean Teale as Louis, Prince of Condé (season 2)
- Rachel Skarsten as Elizabeth I of England (guest season 2; main season 3–)
- Charlie Carrick as Robert Dudley (season 3–)
- Ben Geurens as Gideon Blackburn (season 3–)
- Dan Jeannotte as James Stewart (recurring season 3; main season 4-)
- Rossif Sutherland as Nostradamus (seasons 1–3)
- Amy Brenneman as Marie de Guise (seasons 1–3)
- Michael Therriault as Aloysius Castleroy (seasons 1–2; guest season 3)
- Anna Walton as Diane de Poitiers (season 1; guest season 2)
- Katie Boland as Clarissa (season 1; guest season 2)
- Gil Darnell as Christian, Duke of Guise (season 1; guest season 2)
- Yael Grobglas as Olivia D'Amencourt (season 1)
- Kathryn Prescott as Penelope (season 1)
- Giacomo Gianniotti as "Lord Julien"/Remy (season 1)
- Alexandra Ordolis as Delphine (seasons 2–3)
- Ben Aldridge as Antoine of Navarre (season 2; guest season 3)
- Vince Nappo as Renaude (season 2)
- Spencer MacPherson as Charles IX of France (season 3)
- Clara Pasieka as Amy Dudley (season 3)
- Tom Everett Scott as William (season 3)
- Nick Lee as Nicholas (season 3)
- Mark Ghanimé as Don Carlos of Spain (season 3)
- Nathaniel Middleton as Christophe (season 3)
- Will Kemp as Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (season 4)
- Adam Croasdell as Bothwell (season 4)
- Steve Lund as Luc (Season 4)
Development and production
In February 2013, The CW announced its order of a pilot for a TV series based on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, created by Stephanie Sengupta and Laurie McCarthy, and produced by CBS Studios. Part of the reason McCarthy chose Mary Stuart as the subject is because of her life history and multiple husbands, which makes her story "sexier". The pilot was directed by Brad Silberling, with Sengupta and McCarthy as the writers and executive directors; Sengupta left the team in May 2013, leaving Laurie McCarthy as the sole showrunner. On February 9, 2013, it was announced that Australian actress Adelaide Kane would be playing the main character.
In interviews preceding the premiere, showrunner McCarthy described the show as deliberately taking liberties with history, and that it's more "entertainment" than history, while actress Anna Popplewell referred to the show as "fantasy history", exploring the characters in hypothetical situations. Actress Megan Follows described the show as "24 for the pre-Renaissance", as the show tends to extend historical events over a longer period of time. McCarthy added that the show is designed to be interesting to a contemporary audience, so viewers who aren't familiar with history will be able to watch and relate to the characters. Among the creative choices is the use of modern music in the show soundtrack, and its costumes. The show's costumes are designed by Meredith Markworth-Pollack, who worked on the CW's other shows Hart of Dixie and Gossip Girl, who created different looks for Mary and her ladies, each to complement their differing personalities. The ladies: Lola, Kenna, Greer, and Aylee, are loosely based on Mary Beaton, Mary Seton, Mary Fleming, and Mary Livingston who were ladies-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots.
Kane auditioned when she was filming a recurring role on the third season of MTV TV series Teen Wolf. When Kane got the part, the Teen Wolf writers wrote her character off the show. Kane is part Scottish on her mother's side, and did research on the historical Mary Stuart in preparing for the role. Toby Regbo was cast as Dauphin Francis before March 1, 2013, and British newcomer Celina Sinden was cast as Mary's lady-in-waiting Greer on that date. Torrance Coombs was announced as having been cast as Sebastian, one of the leading characters, in March 2013. Sebastian is an original character created for the show, so Coombs didn't have as much research in preparation for the role, though he faced the challenge of changing his performance from that in The Tudors, another historical TV series he'd been involved in. Alan Van Sprang, who was cast as Henry II of France, modeled his performance after Bill Clinton. In November 2013, Amy Brenneman was announced as having been cast as Mary Stuart's mother, Mary de Guise, a role that initially went to Brenneman's Private Practice co-star Kate Walsh, who was unable to commit due to conflicting filming commitments. On March 10, 2015, it was announced that Rachel Skarsten has been cast as Queen Elizabeth, a role that debuted in finale of season two and become a regular in season three. Showrunner McCarthy described the addition of Elizabeth as expanding the scope of the series, and that she will be part of season three's focus on the show's three queens.
A large part of the filming for the first season took place in Toronto, Canada and the Republic of Ireland. The Third and Fourth Seasons were also largely filmed in Toronto. Rockwood Conservation Area near Guelph, Ontario and Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, Ontario have also been used to mimic 16th century Scotland for the show's production.
Editing for sexual content
The show's pilot was distributed on May 20, 2013 to advertisers and critics for promotion and to generate hype. The pilot was edited before its final airing on October 13, trimming the sexual content of the scene where Kenna masturbates after witnessing a bedding ceremony. A later episode of the season, 1.13 "The Consummation", has two versions: an on-air cut for television broadcast, and an online streaming version with additional sexual content that was made available on the CW's website a few hours later. This action was criticized by the Parents Television Council for putting sexual content online "where presumably children will be able to watch them with no rating or blocking capability".
Reign was announced on The CW's 2013 autumn line-up on May 10, 2013, placing it in the Thursday timeslot following The Vampire Diaries, its biggest hit in young women demographic. The show had its series premiere on October 17, 2013, in the U.S. In Canada, the series airs a day earlier on M3, in simulcast with The CW on CTV Two, and in reruns on E! Canada. Beginning with season three, the show will move to the latter network.
In New Zealand, Prime premiered the show Thursdays at 9:30 pm, starting November 21, 2013. In Australia, Reign was originally scheduled to premiere on Eleven, but premiered on Fox8 on August 5, 2014. In Ireland the show broadcasts in the early mornings on RTÉ2 each Thursday at 02:15. The first two seasons of Reign are available for online streaming on Netflix in the UK and Ireland. New episodes from Season 3 onwards are uploaded weekly to Netflix in the United Kingdom as the exclusive broadcaster hours after they air in the US, but not Ireland where they are exclusive to RTÉ until the season finishes airing.
Response to the show has been mixed, with various critics highlighting the show's focus on romance and teenage drama instead of historical accuracy. A number of reviewers have compared it to Gossip Girl, with similar emphasis on fashion, drama, and soap opera antics. The review of the pilot by The New York Times described Reign a strong candidate as a "camp classic", calling it fun and acknowledging its historical inaccuracies. The reviewer of The A.V. Club described the show as more "an alternate-universe fanfiction than anything pretending to approach history", calling the show camp and fun. The Miami Herald describes the show's opening episodes as "surprisingly entertaining", with Adelaide Kane's portrayal of Mary as "a teenager with a dawning realization that her royal caprices can have unexpectedly grim consequences offers an interesting take on the traditional coming-of-age story". The review of Flavorwire described the show as "fantastical princess wish-fulfilment", a guilty pleasure that is relaxing to watch, and that its historical inaccuracy is to its advantage: "There is something about abandoning all pretense of authenticity that gives this story a lightness it badly needs; dead-seriousness just isn't something that plays all that well at the moment." Community Voices highlighted Reign as an interesting departure from The CW's other shows, but describes it as stuck in a rut, making it difficult to sustain a show that's "built on a binary premise: either Mary and Francis are coming together or they are drifting apart." A review by a The Los Angeles Times critic is more critical, saying that the "sexed-up version of high school with horses" show "does not deserve" its main character, who is described as a "The Princess Diaries knock-off", but acknowledges that the show is self-aware of its position as a guilty pleasure. USA Today is also critical, describing the show as anachronistic and "dumbing down" history for the sake of entertainment.
Awards and accolades
|2014||Hollywood Post Alliance Awards||Outstanding Color Grading – Television||"Pilot"
David Cole – Modern VideoFilm
|The Joey Awards||Young Actress age 9 or younger in a TV Series Drama or Comedy Guest Starring or Principal Role||Vanessa Carter||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV: Breakout Show||Reign||Nominated|
|Choice TV: Female Breakout Star||Adelaide Kane||Nominated|
|Choice TV: Male Breakout Star||Toby Regbo||Nominated|
|Monte-Carlo Television Festival||Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series||Torrance Coombs||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Adelaide Kane||Nominated|
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite New TV Drama||Reign||Won|
|2015||Golden Maple Awards||Best Actor in a TV series broadcast in US||Torrance Coombs & Jonathan Keltz||Nominated|
|Canadian Screen Awards||Best Achievement in Make-Up||"Consummation"
Jenny Arbour, Linda Preston
|Canadian Screen Awards||Shaw Media Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role||Megan Follows||Nominated|
|2016||Canadian Screen Awards||Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Fiction Program or Series||"Acts of War"
Phillip Barker, Robert Hepburn, Brad Milburn
|Canadian Screen Awards||Shaw Media Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role||"Three Queens"
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Episodes||First aired||Last aired||TV season||Rank|| Avg. viewers|
| 18–49 rating|
|1||Thursday 9:00 pm||22||October 17, 2013||1.98||May 15, 2014||1.24||2013–14||158||1.94||0.9/3|
|2||22||October 2, 2014||1.01||May 14, 2015||0.83||2014–15||164||1.72||0.7/2|
|3|| Friday 8:00 pm (1–10)
Monday 8:00 pm (11–18)
|18||October 9, 2015||0.95||June 20, 2016||0.93||2015–16||186||0.97||0.5/2|
|4||Friday 9:00 pm||TBA||February 10, 2017||TBD||TBA||TBD||2016–17||TBD||TBD||TBD|
Home media releases
Novels based on the series authored by Lily Blake have been published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
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