Exciting and elegant, “Victoria” still wows in Season Three
Updated: May 3, 2019
“VICTORIA: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON”
Blu-ray, DVD; 2019; PG; streaming via Amazon Prime, iTunes and PBSNow
Best extra: 11 mini-features
EUROPE is in an uproar when “Victoria” returns for its third season. It’s 1848 and a time of revolution.
“Monarchies were toppling all over Europe,” writer/creator Daisy Goodwin says in one of the 11 mini-features included in the three disc presentation from PBS Distribution. “The word ‘communism’ suddenly appeared. The ruling houses of Europe suddenly got scared that there might be a mass revolt.”
Indeed. The common man – and woman – have turned against monarchies in France, Germany, Italy and the Austrian Empire. The Chartists, a working class movement for political reform in Britain, is gaining steam. Then there’s a deadly outbreak of cholera in London, eventually traced to a public well. Tragedy awaits there for some of our favorite characters.
All this as the Queen’s long lost half-sister Princess Feodora arrives as a refugee. Dressed in rags, she collapses on the carpet before the royal family. Played by Kate Fleetwood, Feo is a gifted manipulator, and is soon playing Victoria and Albert against one another, chipping away at their marriage. “She’s trying to make both of them need her,” Fleetwood says in an interview. “She’s making herself irreplaceably important to both of them.” Resentful of Victoria’s good fortune, Feo wants wealth and attention, and she’s not afraid to take it.
Ah … family. “Victoria and Albert have a volcanic marriage,” Goodwin says. “They’ve had a lot of children very quickly … In Series Three they’re 10 years into their marriage. Some things have settled down very nicely, and some things haven’t.” One partner prefers logic over an emotional response; one likes to work out of the public spotlight, while the other enjoys the crowd and its approval; and each have very different ideas on education and discipline for their children.
A new foreign secretary in Parliament, Lord Palmerston played with tremendous appeal by Laurence Fox, creates his own public and private complications. A crowd pleaser, he’s publically on the side of the French rebels who de-throned Louis Philippe. “He winds Victoria up about despotic rule in Europe and the fact that power should belong with the people,” Fox says. “And one doesn’t know how serious he is about that.”
“He has a very clear idea of protecting Britain’s interests,” Goodwin explains. “At one point he says, ‘Liberty and confusion abroad, peace and stability at home. That’s my motto.’ His feeling is that anything that … destabilizes Europe is to Britain’s advantage.”
Like the scheming Feodora, there’s little controlling Palmerston. He’s a rascal. Politics and personal events mix to dynamic effect throughout Season Three, which continues to emphasize women’s lack of rights and demeaning roles in society, even for the queen.
The season concludes with the opening of the Great Exhibition in 1951. Albert and inventor Henry Cole (David Newman) are the driving force behind the celebration of “All Nations, the greatest collection of art in industry” housed in the Crystal Palace built in Hyde Park. Scorned as folly throughout its construction, the exhibition becomes a huge success publicly and privately as Albert's value to his adopted country is finally validated.
Are all the facts accurate? No. “Victoria,” as usual, plays with real events and timelines as it presents a compelling – and gorgeous – period drama in eight episodes. Each chapter is a cliffhanger leaving us anxious for more, especially at season’s end. Again the 1080p transfer looks fantastic, with brilliant color, detail and dimension. Audio is also very good with clearly delivered dialogue and a balanced blend of ambient effects and music.
Bonus features are short, but fun featuring interviews with filmmakers, and actors about their characters and story: “Feodora: A New Dynamic in the Palace”; “Lord Palmerston: The Foreign Secretary”; “Rosalind Ebbutt: Costume Designer”; “Boxing in the Park”; “Louisa & Laurie,” with interviews from the child actors who play Princess Vicky (Louisa Bay) and Prince Bertie (Laurie Shepherd); “Showdown on Waterloo Bridge” about the Chartist revolt; “Daisy Goodwin: Writer and Creator”; “Anna Wilson-Jones: Lady Emma Portman”; “Lily Travers & David Burnett: Duchess Sophie of Monmouth & Joseph”; “Sabrina Bartlett: Abigail Turner”; and “Nell Hudson: Skerrett.”
Those who enjoyed Seasons One and Two of “Victoria” will certainly love Season Three. There’s no stopping Jenna Coleman’s Victoria or Tom Hughes’ Albert.
- Kay Reynolds