Series Review: Versailles

I don’t watch a lot of television, preferring movies instead. However, when I find a series that grabs my attention and stays with me, invading my thoughts and even my dreams, I become a faithful follower. I had seen previews for the upcoming season two of a series called Versailles. Described as “opulent”, “addictive”, “intriguing”, and the “best series on television”, I became curious. Serendipitously, when I checked to see if episodes from season one were available, I discovered that the final two episodes of that first season were being televised at that very moment, ahead of this weekend’s season two premiere.

It’s true. The historical show is rich in detail and well crafted, with outstanding performances and amazing sets and period costumes. And…it is oh so addictive.

This is Versailles.

Versailles stars George Blagden, Alexander Vlahos, Tygh Runyan, Elisa Lasowski, Anna Brewster and Noemie Schmidt. This weekly historical drama is rate MA, for mature audiences, and each episode has a run time of 58 minutes.

Set in 1667, King Louis XIV (Blagden) is France’s 28 year old monarch. He decides to build the greatest palace in the world, Versailles, and move his court there. In a world of uncertainty, danger and unrest, he requires the nobility of France to reside in Versailles with him. Far from being a generous gesture, Louis keeps his friends and his enemies close, the better to control them and discover their secrets.

With him is his queen, Marie Therese (Lasowski), his favorite mistress, Montespan (Brewster), his brother Philippe (Vlahos) and his wife Henriette (Schmidt), and a host of advisors including the man he trusts most to safeguard him and his family, Fabien Marchal (Runyan).

And what a job that is, for to be king is to have many enemies. From those who seek to invade his country, to those who wish to hurt him by attacking those closest to him, the Sun King is beset with conspiracies and dark deeds on all sides. Even his brother, who deals with his own dark thoughts and insecurities, cannot always be counted on to stand with the king.

And yet, amid all the turmoil surrounding him, Louis is building a palace that is representative of him and his great power in Europe. He will spare no expense, for the story of Versailles is his story and the world is watching as it unfolds.

Louis XIV and his brother, Philippe.

Although I came late to the party that is Versailles, I loved the final two episodes, out of ten, of season one. Apparently the network was rebroadcasting the first season before the premiere of season two. I was able to watch a 22 minute behind the scenes program, which did an adequate job of catching me up, but also created the desire to watch this series from the beginning.

Ovation is the network carrying the current season, however season one can be found on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon.

I appreciate everything about this show. Opulent is the perfect word for Versailles. It is lavish in all regards, from the period costumes to the sets. Great regard is given to details, which is vital for a historical series. And the opening credits, with the theme song, gave me goosebumps. Watch HERE.

Although the cast is completely unfamiliar to me, the portrayal of King Louis and his court is superb. I have already become a fan of George Blagden and Alexander Vlahos. Their interactions, as royal brothers who both love each other and compete against the other, are the fuel that drives the series.

The thing I most love about Versailles is that it sent me to Google, to look up the real Sun King and his brother, the queens, the mistresses and the palace itself. I enjoy historical pieces because they create in me the desire to know more. I found that Versailles is very accurate in portraying King Louis and his court, with a bit of creative license taken for the sake of good storytelling.

Overall, I am quite impressed and taken with this series. I will be playing catch up as I watch episodes 1 – 8 of season one, while I am enjoying season two. I know King Louis XIV experienced the longest reign of any European monarch. I hope that means there will be many more seasons of Versailles.