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Interesting story line for those of you who have the slightest clue of history. Other reviewers talk about "supernatural" plot lines. I had to chuckle. This series is based on a scandalous time in history. It is pretty factual with some added creative license. Historical events of this family and time involve accusations of witchcraft. This is not a Hollywood conjured up plot line with supernatural concoctions to make a series more interesting as other reviewers suggest. After this first episode, I would say it rates mountains above most garbage you see on US television. Elizabeth Grey reigned as queen for 19 years. I recommend a Google search for some of you to get a taste of the juicy storyline this series will bring.
Having read all of Phillipa Gregory's books on the Lancasters, Yorks
and Tudors and having seen other adaptations of her work, I knew that
this would be good entertainment even though it is rife with historical
Being Gregory is a historian, I find her penchant for deviating from history as well as just making things up extremely distressing and annoying. The actual history is compelling enough and in no need of elaboration. People will read her books and watch her movies thinking them to be accurate.
So if you want good entertainment this is a good show. The casting is excellent, the costuming is fabulous and in general this is a very well made show. Just realize that it is not history but very loosely based on history.
The very first episode was rather underwhelming however it was still
interesting enough for me to continue to watch. By the third episode I
was hooked and the series has continued to deliver very strongly.
I've just watched the seventh episode and in this my main gripe, which had been the performance of King Edward by Max Irons seems to be so much more convincing than that of the early episodes. Oddly enough Max Irons does the fatter older and extremely morally compromised Edward better than the younger version. Or maybe in the earlier episodes the fault was mine, I simply was not accepting Max Irons in the role of Edward.
The performance I have been enjoying the most is that of Amanda Hale as Lady Margaret Beaufort. There is so much to Margaret Beaufort, that she is a religious fanatic who is continuously scheming and plotting and obsessed with putting her son on the throne. Amanda portrays it all excellently and with Margaret I found myself strangely sympathetic to her cause, even though I realised that if I had encountered her in real life I would have loathed her.
One reviewer has complained that the characters are telling each other things that they know about themselves, but this is an important device in a drama such as this to simply remind the audience just who is who and how they all relate to each other.
I think the script often has many excellent moments, such as at the end of the seventh episode when Henry Stafford, played by Michael Maloney says to Margaret Beaufort "you realise that for your son to become king he has to walk past five coffins". In that scene we know that Margaret understands this and it is communicated that she is capable of doing all that is necessary to get her son on the throne.
Some people complain about historical inaccuracies. There are concrete steps in some scenes, and there are handrails etc. However I think the truth is that the cost of covering all these things up would have been huge. I don't think it is possible for a television series to be totally accurate. Some have complained that the whites in the costumes are too white. However lighting and cameras will often produce a "whiter than white" impression with white clothing. Maybe this should have been countered in some way, however once again, I think that in a television series that is too much to expect.
This series is extremely compelling. The hugely difficult situation for each character is portrayed extremely well. I really feel for the people unfortunate enough to be caught up in this deeply unpleasant world. Even if you know roughly what happens, it remains really rather exciting.
The underlying theme, that the women in the Wars of the Roses were just as significant as the men, is an important point, and by focusing on them it does make for excellent drama as their lives are so interesting.
So, some woman called Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson) goes and
stands underneath a big oak tree in a forest. Edward IV rides past,
take one look, and instantly falls in love with her.
This man is Elizabeth's sworn enemy, and the murderer of several members of her family, but despite this fact she also falls instantly in love with him. For some reason.
I Googled this historical event to see if it really took place under a tree in a forest and it seems it didn't. In real life, they met in a room. But wherever Liz and Eddie ("Leddie"?) first bumped into each other, had this meeting not occurred there would have been no Henry VIII. Because Elizabeth Woodville was fat old King Harry's grandmother. Such, my children, is the role of sex in history.
Set in 1464, during the Wars of the Roses, The White Queen (BBC1) is quite simply rubbish. The writing is woeful, the performances are wooden, and there are more historical errors than you could shake a polystyrene broadsword at.
Max Irons as Edward IV looks more Eton First XI than majestic, and James Frain as Lord Warwick appears to be an evil reincarnation of Gareth Hunt from The New Avengers. This is dark, curly perm acting at its most inscrutable.
Here we have another highly anticipated Sunday night costume drama crashing and burning because the BBC once again stubbornly refuses to spend our hard earned license money on decent scriptwriters. As usual the characters spend the whole time telling each other things they already know. "But he is your five year old son". "But I am this boy's mother." "But Edward, you are the King of England!". "But Sire, she is your twice married sister ." The Beeb still haven't noticed, but people in the real world don't speak like that. There is no sense of reality in this series, no feeling of actually being there. Only an endless, cringe-making string of crass backstory pick-ups, thinly researched historical facts and figures, and the occasional erect nipple to keep us watching.
Scriptwriting for Dummies: Day One: Lesson One: NEVER HAVE YOUR CHARACTERS TELL EACH OTHER THINGS THEY ALREADY KNOW! If you want to see good historical drama writing, I suggest you watch re-runs of I Claudius. The make-up may have been terrible, the sets might have been made out of cardboard, but every script was lovingly crafted by a real, card-carrying author. Not by a dreary, lazy hack writer who would clearly be more at home writing a Wiki page about minor English kings and their mistresses.
Where have all the real writers gone? I'll tell you. They're sitting at home on their own writing novels, because they are sick to the back teeth of having to deal with the new generation of pimply, useless, Excel-driven BBC Drama executives who wouldn't recognise a great script if it jumped out of a jiffy bag on their desk and clamped itself to their face like a newly birthed Alien on the good ship Nostromo.
The person who commissioned The White Queen should go and stand underneath an oak tree and wait for a proper writer to go past.
I'm a huge fan, there's my position at the start. I love quality
historic TV productions, and as such am a big fan of The Borgias and
its European cousin Borgia, of Rome, of I Claudius, and I tried very
hard to like The Tudors.
I'm not sure how a viewer with no historic background knowledge of the Wars of The Roses (as we know them) and the dynastic struggle that eventually resulted in The Windsors, but I find the tale, which includes some of the present Queen's ancestors, completely gripping.
Unfortunately I know what's about to happen during most scenes (apart from the silly stuff with Elizabeth and Lady Rivers, which does not detract from the story), so my advice is not to visit Wikipedia if you don't want your fun spoiled. Enjoy this tragic and dramatic story of one of England's earlier civil wars.
This is such a wonderful story and great cast, I am captivated by this all aspects. I waited for a few episodes before watching, as I new I'd love this show and it would be in great pain for me to wait each week for the next episode to show. It is the much watch series of the year for sure! I do like how it is realistically portrayed and that it speaks in a secret way that sexuality had a great deal to do with how history is affected by it and how love/lust can change decisions that affect the aristocracy. Women have many powers for sure, but of all else it's those who know how to use their sexuality, denying the needs of those spoiled and use to getting their ways, become the main way one can aspire to a higher status. Grey is smart in her rise to the throne, though it is her mother who is the smartest of all. In a time of deception, chaos and death, love can exist, though it also seems to show that it can not last and in a time of war, Love is Never enough. Power is the ultimate gain and the end game is to be the ruler.
Having had the pleasure of finishing the series on BBC iPlayer today I
would like to say I thoroughly enjoyed it as did most people who saw it
Now I did not watch this because I wanted a historical documentary. I watched it for the same reason I watched The Tudors, for an entertaining period drama about the intrigue surrounding the War of the Roses. There are many inaccuracies in both shows but I found them easy to overlook. It concerns mainly Elizabeth Woodville and her time as Queen of England whilst others plotted her demise and some even sought to overthrow King Edward. The acting was, on the whole, very good for TV and the sets and costumes were all fantastic and suited the characters portrayed in them. There clearly was not a high budget here and it shows, particularly in the battle scenes. However, I did was able to overlook this as the story did enough to draw me in.
The reason many people did not enjoy this show as much, in my opinion, is due to the first couple of episodes. They are considerably weaker than the rest of the show and I was tempted to give up after episode 2, it just seemed too much like a soap opera. However, once the main story lines picked up it was highly enjoyable.
If you can overlook the flaws in this show and, like me, you actually read books for your historical knowledge rather than TV dramas then you should be able to enjoy this show and I highly recommend it.
One night early there was a preview showing of this new series from the
Brits. It looks promising if a bit unorthodox in its approach to
history and slips in the settings and costumes. The series is based on
Philippa Gregory's novel, 'The Cousins' War' and roughly the story line
promises to follow these lines: Set against the backdrop of the Wars of
the Roses, the series is the story of the women caught up in the
long-drawn-out conflict for the throne of England. It starts in
1464--the nation has been at war for nine years fighting over who is
the rightful King of England, as two sides of the same family, the
House of York and the House of Lancaster, are in violent conflict over
the throne. The story focuses on three women in their quest for power,
as they manipulate behind the scenes of history--Elizabeth Woodville,
Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville.
In the first episode we don't see much more than King Edward's bedding and wedding of Elizabeth, a lot of bickering, some fighting, and some castle intrigue. Rebecca Ferguson plays Queen Elizabeth, Amanda Hale plays Lady Margaret Beaufort, Faye Marsay is Anne Neville, and the remarkable actors are Janet McTeer as Jacquetta Woodville (Elizabeth's magical mum) and Max Irons (handsome son of Jeremy Irons) as King Edward. James Frain is an unusually grumpy and sour Lord Warwick and Caroline Goodall is splendid as the evil Duchess Cicely. It is difficult to tell from an isolated episode, but the series has enough interest in the poorly understood realm of the War of the Roses for American audience that it will probably have staying power. Stay tuned...
If you are of the disposition to enjoy extravagant production values, a
handsome cast and plots compromised of devious political maneuvering,
then it will be easy to appreciate BBC One's epic saga The White Queen
for the rollicking good drama that it is. If, however, you are a narc
for period accuracy, it's probably best to stick to the history
Adapted from the best selling novel series The Cousins' War by Philippa Gregory, the show is set during the War Of The Roses, a conflict between the House of York and The House of Lancaster for the throne of England.
The subtext of the series revolves around the plight of medieval women, a fate fraught with perils equal to anything that their male counterparts faced on the battlefield. It's an oppressive, violent and often soul destroying existence from which not even the nobles from which the series draws it's focus are spared. In this way the The White Queen surprisingly possesses quite an insular focus despite the scope of the events that play out around the main characters. Interpersonal dynamics and the quest for personal power are the main factors that propel the narrative.
The pilot episode has actually been the weakest thus far, mainly serving the purpose of character introductions and setting the foundation of the central romance between Elizabeth Woodville and King Edward IV. This is not say that it is without merit, as the episode acts as an intriguing appetizer of promised delights to come. Initial patience is soon rewarded as the subsequent installments have upped the anti ten fold. Admittedly creative license has been taken in regards to a number of events, but there is no denying that The White Queen is thrilling melodrama nevertheless.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Wars of the Roses is one of the most intriguing periods in British
history with enough material to even make several seasons of a well
written series, so I had great hopes for this one. What we get is a
boring history lesson. Faction A fights faction B and then someone
changes sides, they have couple of battles and then they switch sides
again. Never we get a proper explanation as to why things happen.
Where's the politics, where's the machinations? The whole script lacks
depth and is devoid of intrigue. The characters are underdeveloped and
feel like cardboard figures. The viewer has to make do with some badly
written, phony dialog and a unnecessarily high emphasis on witchcraft.
Did they really think this mumbo jumbo can make up for the lack of
actual storytelling? It does get a little bit better after seven
episodes, just a little. I know many people in England don't believe
that Richard III killed the princes in the tower, but the writers go
out of their way to place the blame with either Margaret Beaufort or
Anne Neville. The whole thing reeks of a Richard III apology.
You can be critical of other series like "The Tudors" for their lack of historical accuracy, but at least that was an entertaining show. "The White Queen" makes "The (flawed) Tudors" look like a masterpiece. Whatever happened to James Frain? He was great playing Thomas Cromwell but makes Richard Neville (Warwick the Kingmaker) look like a pussycat. His death-scene is preposterous. It looks like the exam of a flunked drama-student in acting school. This brings me to the battle-scenes. We hardly get to see any, do we? And the ones that are shown seem to be skirmishes of about eight men getting involved in badly choreographed sword fighting. If they don't have the budget to show a proper battle, why even bother making a series set in one of the most violent periods in British history? The series ends with the battle of Bosworth FIELD, which happened in a august. What we get to see is a skirmish in a Flemish forest in the snow. Ridiculous.
If you thought Frain was bad check out Amanda Hale! Her portrayal of Margaret Beaufort is hysterical. I wished one of her spineless husbands would smack her in the face every time she starts whining about her son's destiny. And David Oakes is even worse as George of Clarence than as Juan Borgia. That about says it all.
I could go on and on about the anachronisms. At a certain point they didn't even bother to take off the iron bars that are put in castles for the tourists. The whole scenery feels wrong, too. Not for a moment you feel like you're in the middle ages. The landscapes and buildings of Flanders and England are just too different. But even a proper setting and less anachronisms wouldn't have saved the series. How much good would it do when the script is that empty and the acting is that bad? How could they have made such an interesting period in British history so boring? What a wasted chance!
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