January 7th, 2007


The Virgin Queen

The Virgin Queen started tonight on PBS -- those in the UK saw it last year on BBC. The second part is next Sunday night at 9EST/8CST and I highly recommend it, highly. Brilliant production values, brilliant acting, and it gives life to long dead events that still affect the whole world. Since reading Stephenson's Baroque Cycle I've been a sucker for anything about the 16th and 17th centuries. That was the greatest period of scientific and political upheaval since the time of the Roman Empire. That is when the modern world was being invented: Calculus, Chemistry, Astronomy, Physics, Democracy, and the international economic system all came about in a relatively short period.

But beyond my fascination with the events of that time, "The Virgin Queen" is no staid costume drama. In large part because of
Anne Marie Duff, who plays Elizabeth. She is a monstrously talented actor, who doesn't just inhabit the character of Elizabeth. She commands your attention, and her performance doesn't just acknowledge the actors around her, she dominates them. She lit up the first two seasons of Shameless such that even though it remains excellent without her, there's still a hole precisely her size left in the show. She's not pretty, but she's beautiful, with enormous, expressive eyes. She can make her point with a slight shift of those eyes, or equally with subtle physical gestures, or in her walk.

Anyway, those in the US, jump on it next Sunday. What else you going to do?