Reign: Season 1 (DVD) – Series Review
Follow Genre: Drama, Romance, 'Fantasy'
Distributor: Warner Home Video
Episodes: 22
Duration: 40 min. (per episode)

Reign: Season 1 (DVD) – Series Review

Site Score
Good: Concept, Acting, Modern touch on costumes
Bad: Modern way of behaving is sometimes a bit too much
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(1 votes)
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Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Throughout history there have been many conquerors, many fearsome royals who hungered for more power and territory. Due to this, many have tried claiming the throne of different countries, no matter the cost or no matter what atrocities they had to perform to achieve their goal. Mary, queen of Scots, had been crowned  monarch of Scotland when she was only a few months old. As her mother feared for her life, she was sent to France at an early age, hoping she would be able to survive there. We were wondering how this semi-realistic series, based on actual historical characters came to fruition. Long may she reign!


Ever since Mary Stuart (Adelaide Kane) was a child, she is to be wed to Francis (Toby Regbo), the son of France’s current monarch, king Henry II (Alan Van Sprang) and queen Catherine (Megan Follows). Whilst Mary is of noble blood, as a child she had to hide in a monastery, hoping the English would not find her and make an attempt on her life. Even though everything went fairly smooth until she turned of age, her ‘taster’ in the monastery gets poisoned, which clearly indicates that Mary is once again in danger. Due to this, she is to be sent to the French court again, accompanied by four friends, to marry Francis and tighten the alliance between France and Scotland, making sure both countries’ armies can stand up against England if they have to. While Mary has no problem with marrying Francis, as she has always had fond memories of him, it seems Francis is slightly reluctant, as well as the rest of his family. With the dire condition Scotland finds itself in, Henry II feels that marrying now would only put France’s troops in danger, for a fairly lost cause. Nonetheless, it’s best to keep Mary on a tight leash, as it’s possible they will need her in the future.

As time progresses, Francis warms up again to the idea of marrying Mary, much to Mary’s liking. That being said, Sebastian (Torrance Coombs), the king’s illegitimate son, and Francis’ half-brother, seems to be rather fond of Mary as well, which will surely cause problems in the future. If the possible extra suitor wasn’t already enough of a pickle, Nostradamus (Rossif Sutherland), known for his predictions, which are highly valued by queen Catherine, predicts Francis will perish if he weds Mary. Even though Catherine was once fond of Mary, she is now desperately planning to prevent the wedding, at all costs, even if it costs bystanders their lives, or perhaps even Mary’s life. Forbidden love is bound to unfold.


The series has a slow pace, which is suited for a series like this. Whilst war and the loss of territory are always on the background, the series is more about love and politics, rather than an epic tale of war. Nonetheless, some fantasy elements are tied to the ‘teenage drama’, to spice things up from all the drama that plays itself out in the castle. It seems there is a dark entity that lurks in the vicinity, where pagans worship the so-called ‘darkness’, adding another layer of danger for Mary and her consorts. This actually creates an interesting side-plot, taking the edge of all the romantic issues Mary and her friends have to deal with.

There’s a certain sense of realism the series brings with its decors and the overall appearance of the populace, the nobles and so on, but something feels a tad off. This is also explained in the extra features, as the creators did their best to clothe many characters according to their personalities, emphasizing their behavior. This proves to be a fun touch, but it makes the series feel a tad too modern at times, taking away from the otherwise realistic appearance of the series. Seeing many of the locations are actually built sets, it has to be said that these sets are amazingly built. Most of the time you’ll think you are in an actual castle, rather than a wooden set made from scratch.

Acting performances are top notch, albeit again somewhat ‘modern’ given the position of the characters. Some of the noblewomen are rather free minded for the 16th century, seeing Mary’s companions act like horny teenagers, rather than those who are seeking to strengthen their titles and families. While this makes the series accessible for a wider audience, it also feels a bit weird or ‘too much’ at times. Nonetheless, both the ladies and men do a superb job in portraying their characters, albeit with not that much character development during this first season. Henry’s character however is an interesting one, as his personality tends to shift completely during the 22 episodes this season has to offer.


While everything proves to be a pleasing whole, it’s clear that the series targets a slightly younger, teenage audience as the music choice is often rather modern, which isn’t bad per se but the music is played on very unsuitable moments at times. Opting for modern music for the most part, at least for every situation, is not always the best choice to truly live the moment. A few fun ‘medieval remixes’ can be found throughout the first season, which are rather well done.

When it comes to the extras, this DVD release is rather slim. You’ll be treated to an overdose of deleted scenes, as nearly every episode has deleted scenes but more interestingly, you’ll see how they made Reign, when it comes to the sets and the overall ‘modern’, yet realistic touches.


Reign: Season 1 proves to be a fun change from overly violent series that situate themselves in a medieval timeframe, by adding many love stories as its main focus. While the overall concept is great, sometimes the execution is a tad on the dull side, especially when some scenes are getting dragged out. Nonetheless, the series was enjoyable, interesting and the politics and deception shown proved to be rather realistic. We are curious to see how the second season will go, even though we are not sure what more interesting tales there are to tell. Fans of love stories and beautiful costumes and sets will certainly enjoy this one.


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Reign: Season 1 (DVD) - Series Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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