So last month we finally broke down and subscribed to a few premium channels. Since then it’s been BINGEAPALOOZA. We’ve watched BLACK SAILS, THE WHITE QUEEN, season four of GAME OF THRONES, and THE MUSKETEERS. (We have yet to start OUTLANDER, and PENNY DREADFUL and THE KNICK will have to wait.)
And after binge-watching four series, all I can say is: SO MANY BOOBS. Seriously. It’s been weeks of nothing but swords and nipples on our television. Luckily, we saved THE MUSKETEERS for last because it ended up being a sorbet of a show, delightfully palate-cleansing with significantly less cleavage and violence than the other three. I’m sure y’all know by now prudery is not one of my faults, but there are only so many breasts and so many heads being split like melons before it all gets a bit YAWN. It honestly took me three episodes of THE MUSKETEERS before I realized I had seen nary a nip–it was charmingly tame.
Verdicts on the shows:
BLACK SAILS: I adore Toby Stephens and he’s getting his teeth into the role of pirate-with-a-secret in this one. John Silver and Jack Rackham are a hoot to watch, both of them providing a bit of MUCH needed comedic relief at times. There are some strong women characters, but the storylines are grabbing at rape like it’s the very last plot device life-raft after the ship went down. Seriously, there are OTHER THINGS you can menace women with. And I want the set designer to come redecorate my house like the bordello–all peeling plaster and wrought iron and candles.
THE WHITE QUEEN: I confess, I forwarded through one entire subplot because I just couldn’t. Okay, maybe I forwarded through two or three. To enjoy this one, you have to forget everything you actually know about the Wars of the Roses and just approach it as a costume drama peopled by folks with familiar names. I VASTLY appreciated the complexity of Richard III’s character, although I’m pretty damned sure he wasn’t getting busy in his tent with Elizabeth of York the night before Bosworth. And if you’re filming a hot love scene, check the lighting to make sure it’s not highlighting hairy man ass. Because no one needs to see that. On the plus side, JANET MCTEER. That deserves all caps because the woman is magic. Her voice is utterly hypnotic. I’m convinced if she sat down warring factions, she could broker peace just by opening her mouth.
GAME OF THRONES: We were late to the party this season, and I even knew what happened to Oberyn before I saw it, but watching his head get ripped apart like a ripe cantaloupe was a bit much. Okay, it was a LOT much. I went full-on girl and threw my head into my husband’s shoulder and begged him to tell me when it was over. It didn’t do much good–I still got to hear the squelching sounds. Either you’re on board with GoT or not. I enjoy the chess match going on amongst the major players, especially Olenna Tyrell. I want HER for my sigil.
THE MUSKETEERS: I admit, I have a soft spot for this one. It’s a BBC production, not a premium channel offering, so it’s giving considerably less in the way of sex and violence which is FINE, REALLY. The musketeers are ridiculously good-looking, and the chemistry amongst them is exceptional. They’re not slavishly following the books, and they’re being thoughtful about where they make changes. (Casting a mixed race actor to play Porthos is a particularly brilliant nod to Dumas’ own heritage.) And I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see some attempt at giving more power to the women, especially Constance. Having her fence with a villain while Aramis has to stand by and hold a baby? BRILLIANT. Their King Louis is utterly fatuous and completely perfect, but my favorite scenes are those where the Cardinal and Captain Treville snarl at each other. (It’s going to be interesting to see how the series plays without Peter Capaldi’s delicious evil next season since he’s left them to take up the role of the latest Doctor Who.)
Without Showtime, we’re giving PENNY DREADFUL a pass until it comes out on DVD, and THE KNICK is going to have to wait until I can gear up for another seriously bloody premium series. We’ll settle down to watch OUTLANDER in a few weeks–once I can bear to hear swords again. What about you, chickens? What are YOU watching the way of historical dramas?