Pretty things can get away with almost anything. Television, music videos and fashion magazines teach us that every day. But there are limits, as viewers of "Reign" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14) can see for themselves.
Adelaide Kane stars as the fetching, full-lipped young Mary, engaged since childhood to the French king's dashing son, Prince Francis (Toby Regbo). She arrives at the castle of the French royals soon after a near-miss assassin-
ation at the
convent where she had been
secreted away from her estranged family, the Protestant English royals. We see one of her fellow novitiates -- her food taster -- bleed to death before us. You'd think something like that might make young Mary a little cynical. But she's a dewy young thing, filled with notions of true love, much to the surprise of her intended in-laws, who consider her arranged marriage as more strategy than a romance.
Mary's entourage includes a gaggle of giggling young lovelies all out to make royal matches for themselves -- when not breaking into dances fit for a gauzy music video. Despite Mary's background and the pilot's French setting,
everyone speaks in generic British accents, delivering barely credible dialogue with all of the conviction of young people playing dress-up.
"Reign" seems inspired by Sofia Coppola's 2006 music video/historical romp "Marie Antoinette," but it lacks that effort's audacity and punk energy. The score to "Reign" leans toward emo-inflected faux Celtic mood music.
The hit-and-miss teenage acting hardly detracts from the gorgeous production (shot at various castles in Ireland) that puts great emphasis on brooding landscapes, medieval
architecture and interior dec-
oration. There are a couple of staircases that deserve a co-star's billing.
There are ghosts, too. Or at least some shrouded figures who offer Mary good advice ("Don't drink the wine; it's poisoned") just in the nick of time.
And the evil French Queen Catherine (Megan Follows), Mary's prospective mother-in-law, has an adviser named Nostradamus (Rossif Sutherland), who has a thing for making predictions.
Here, even Nostradamus looks like he might moonlight in a Coldplay cover band.
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Kevin McDonough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.