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Kurt Seyit ve Sura (2014)
Unexpected moments redeemed the show
This begins as the Russian version of "Downton Abbey" with incredible sets and costumes from Russia in 1917. I was mesmerized with the furniture, the homes and their exquisite craftsmanship and the dresses.
In the 46 episodes on Netflix (two seasons with a season finale I found satisfying), the setting moves from Petrograd to Crimea to Istanbul, so the Downton Abbey feeling evolves to forests, fields and rivers and finally to the bustling city of Pera outside of Istanbul culminating in 1923.
Seyit the Wolf Eminof is a high-ranking officer in the czar's army and comes to Petrograd before going to the front lines of battle. While there, he meets a young Russian nobleman's daughter at her first ball. I did not find the love story of Seyit the Wolf and Sura to be interesting. Their love at first sight relationship moves to shallow soul mates where Seyit rarely shares his actions and feelings with Sura other than "You are my breath. You are my life." Meh. It was as boring as the monotonous soundtrack of this show.
I found myself far more interested in the secondary characters, friends and family of the perpetually separated and arguing couple. Loyal friends, well-meaning siblings and surrogate family rounded out the characters in ways that kept me watching.
The villain, Petro, is by far one of the most dastardly I've seen in any show, and he was exceptionally annoying as he was the rival for Sura's affections. I was surprised as he became a sympathetic character later in the show even as he continued in his vicious ways. Several villains - both male and female - kept the story full of twists and turns.
To me the show picked up steam when a new family was introduced to the story in what I'm guessing is the season 2 premiere (Netflix has only one season listed, but it's actually two), relatives of the homey family that owned the hotel in Pera where Seyit and Sura lived.
I would guess that the second season romantic conflict and the series finale will be unsatisfying to most people, but I found that I admired Seyit more during the second season. He grew up, made unexpected but mature decisions and became trustworthy. I also enjoyed the paternal relationship he had with a young orphan boy at the hotel. The ending made perfect sense to me although one more show could have wrapped up the stories of the secondary characters with more satisfaction.
This was a fascinating look at places I'm not familiar with during a time with much upheaval and struggle. It was not perfect, but it was entertaining.