In the 1960s, everyone in music followed The Beatles, but for The Rolling Stones, it was almost a religion. The Stones initial mission was to be the anti-Beatles. It seemed for a while that the Stones did everything the Beatles did about two months later. The Beatles used sitar on “Norwegian Wood,” the Stones used sitar for “Paint it Black.” The Beatles put death in the sweetly pop country cut “Baby’s in Black.” The Stones went dark for “Paint it Black.” Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Band … Their Satanic Majesty’s Request. But the Stones were and are artistic geniuses in their own right, carving out a completely unique sound and vision of themselves as a band.
This brings us to Starz and HBO. While they never had a modus operandi of being the anti-HBO, the “cable bad boys,” they seem to do everything about a season after HBO. Well, after they played catch-up. HBO had a long run with the series that made them a class act, The Sopranos. They explored similar themes with Boardwalk Empire and the short-lived and ironically-titled Luck. Starz brought out Magic City. HBO told the rise of an empire in two seasons on Rome. Starz showed us Xena naked in Spartacus (don’t lie, that’s why you watched it). HBO is bringing George RR Martin’s fantasy novel series to a classic run. Starz is giving us a version of Philippa Gregory’s historical novel series The Cousins’ War with The White Queen. So far, in the British battle royale, Starz has been the Dave Clark Five.
The White Queen is no different. It will tell over a 10 episode arc, the history of the War of the Roses that decided the future royal British fambly. Game of Thrones is an allegory of the same period, but as it is set in an alternate reality, they don’t have to stick to any recorded fact. The White Queen is stuck with history. It was a very interesting time and there will be scandals and violence galore. There’s already sex in the first episode. Mind you, it’s all legs and elbows, but it’s happening. Gang of Thorns also has dragons, which history wouldn’t bear out, so instead The White Queen gives us magic. In Elizabeth’s case it’s visions. This isn’t to say that visions won’t be as visually exciting as dragons. Dragons breathe fire. Cool, but what have you done for me lately? I am interested in how they will play out when the audience gets a glimpse into the mind of the daughter of a witch. Who’s the daughter of a witch. It goes back.
Director James Kent visually references Game of Thornes so many times, you’d think it was a spinoff. The opening shot with the tree and the spinning, aren’t those the credits to Crown of Thrones? The White Queen herself, Elizabeth Woodville, was left a widow by one of the men who tried to kill the King she’s now queening over. So she’s not the most innocent White Queen, which is good. Rebecca Ferguson might just give her a touch of Princess Diana. She has a repressed giddiness that’s young and charming. Too bad she almost wretches when she gets the visions. When her eyes throw up whatever she’s seeing as a possible vision of her sons future if they go off with strangers, it was almost startling. But that might have been the work of Janet McTeer who plays Elizabeth’s mum, Jacquetta or how they says it in cockney, Lady Rivers.
The upshot is The King, Eddie the fourth, played by Max Irons is a horny brute bastard who’s bedded everyone in town and Elizabeth is the closest good-looking woman to the next battle field. Problem is she has a problem with him trying to rape her. Not unless he marries her, apparently, just so long as he’s the king she’s been fishing for with her mother the seamstress with the mostest. “There go all the children you’ll never have, all the dreams you won’t remember.” Put a ring on it. And the king promises to do it. So they have a secret wedding. That should be no problem, look how the first secret meeting ended, with the you made me look like an asshole and the I’ll never darken your towels again talk as he went riding off to his camp of men too ugly to bugger even if they were at sea. What could go wrong? Elizabeth ain’t putting out til there’s a wedding, a really cheap wedding, not even the Earl of Sandwich. So King and Queen get to get it on and if he dies, well, it’s a secret, unless Elizabeth get pregnant. In which case she has to lam it out of there. What could go wrong is the Kingmaker, Richard Neville, the Sisteenth Chapel of Warwick, a Machiavellian masterpiece. I’m looking forward to what James Frain will do with him.
Den of Geek Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars