TV Review: Victoria (Series 2)

The second season of Victoria gets a little Downton as it continues on its merry way, 

“Are the grapes, delicious though they are, worth the consequence?”

You suspect that the ‘make it more like Downton‘ types won the day when it came to Victoria. The introduction of the downstairs folk already nodded to that in its entertaining first series and as its second moves us into the 1840s, we’re blessed with a carbon copy of Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess in Diana Rigg’s Duchess of Buccleuch and some bland barely-there gays. Which is all well and good but in a decade which features war in Afghanistan, famine in Ireland, an ever-increasing brood of children and the ever-tangled web of competing family connections, it feels a bit unnecessary.

The series deals really well with notions of mortality, with death coming from both expected and unexpected angles, Coleman’s Victoria and Tom Hughes’ achingly intense Albert both having to reckon with changed circumstances. And as Victoria suffers from post natal depression compounded by people’s changed expectations of her as a monarch now she is a mother, there’s something rather compelling about the interplay between this couple. Deeply romantic in the intensity of their passion, which flairs on a episodic basis as the issue of the week is dealt with (jealousy via Emerald Fennell’s Ada Lovelace is particularly well done), Coleman and Hughes totally sell it.    

The bottle episodes – around the Irish famine and an unlikely sojourn in the Scottish Highlands – are the series’ best, far more compelling than shenanigans around kitchen thieves, servants selling stories and biting observations from the Duchess (as well as Rigg undoubtedly delivers them). The machinations around European geopolitics are fascinating to behold, Alex Jennings and Peter Firth continue to glower magnificently, David Oakes makes syphilis looks sexy and Martin Compston features memorably as Irish vicar Robert Traill, passionately speaking for his people in the brutal face of English imperialism. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *