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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Royals: The Complete First Season DVD Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
From the creator of the hit TV series “One Tree Hill,” “The Royals” is already a smashing success, amassing an audience of 5.4 million viewers for the premiere episode. The series ranks as the top new scripted series in cable for the year (excluding spin-offs) and will return in its second season this November. Starring Elizabeth Hurley (Austin Powers franchise) as the seductive and scheming Queen Helena, the scandalously fun and deliciously devious series features a sexy cast, including William Moseley (The Chronicles of Narnia Franchise), Merritt Patterson (TV’s “Ravenswood”), Vincent Regan (300) and newcomer Alexandra Park. Set in modern-day England, “The Royals” follows the lives of a fictional British Royal family that inhabits a world of opulence and regal tradition catering to any and every desire – a world that also comes with a price tag of duty, destiny and intense public scrutiny.
Show (4 out of 5 stars)
I admit, when I first heard that E! was airing this show, I couldn’t help but think that it would be an over-the-top, Kardashian-like show. I was pleasantly surprised when finally sat down and watched the show. “The Royals” is the story of a fictional English King and his family – the devious Queen Helena, the firstborn and heir to the throne Prince Robert, the charming and spare Prince Liam, and party girl Princess Eleanor. When the palace is informed that Prince Robert, who was away serving in the military, is killed, Liam is thrust into the spotlight. He’s now the heir to the throne and no longer “the spare.” The whole family is devastated and King Simon, growing frustrated with his family and the monarchy itself, informs everyone that he is thinking of getting a referendum passed by parliament to place the abolishment of the monarchy before the people of Great Britain.

Queen Helena is livid and plots with the King’s brother Cyrus to change the King’s mind. Prince Liam thinks that his father is doubtful that he can rule and thinks this is the best way to avoid that, and Princess Eleanor continues her hard partying ways. Liam convinces his father to give him a chance to prove to him that he can be a good heir to the throne, and begins attempting to win the people over. When Liam begins dating a commoner named Ophelia, who also happens to be the head of security’s daughter, the paparazzi follows them everywhere and she is thrust into the spotlight. Princess Eleanor is being blackmailed by her security guard, Jasper, who she shared a one night stand with, and tries everything she can to rid herself of him. She even convinces Ophelia to help dig up dirt on him by going through her father’s security background papers, but Jasper comes clean to Eleanor, and takes away her power.

All through this, Queen Helena plots and schemes with various people, most significantly Cyrus, in order to remain on the throne, keeps the monarchy alive, and ensures that her legacy lives on.
I can’t believe how much I like this show. E! is known for the Kardashians and entertainment news and related shows. Not for a great show like “The Royals.” With the second season just starting, I am hooked and can’t wait for Sunday nights when my DVR records the newest episode. Elizabeth Hurley is fabulous as Queen Helena – she is perfect in the role. Her beauty, her attitude, her poise and grace all works so well and makes her a hateably likeable character. I wanted to hate the Queen so much – she constantly undermines and competes with Prince Liam and Princess Eleanor, especially Princess Eleanor. William Moseley is great as Prince Liam. He is handsome, charming and loveable. He plays the role well and I couldn’t believe that is little Peter Pevensie from the Chronicles of Narnia

Newcomer Alexandra Park plays party girl, Princess Eleanor, really well. The character is both innocent and tough, playing both sides when the need arises. But you can really see her love for her father and her brother come through. Park plays this very well and I hope to see more of her in the future. Of the more minor characters, Jasper was my favorite. He is a con man from Las Vegas (or so he says), who blackmails Princess Eleanor into a relationship, but ends up falling for her, just as she falls for him. Tom Austen is great in the role. I watched him trying to think of where I’d seen him before and after looking him up, I realized I’d seen him in a few things.

Each episode leads into the next really well, even when there’s a bit of a cliffhanger and the story moves along at a good pace. I found myself addicted so quickly and binged on the first season in preparation for the second season, finishing season one only hours before the second premiered.

The Complete First Season of “The Royals” includes all 10 episodes on three discs. The episodes are listed below:

1) Stand and Unfold Yourself

2) Infants of the Spring

3) We are Pictures, or Mere Beasts

4) Sweet Not Lasting

5) Unmask Her Beauty to the Moon

6) The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune

7) Your Sovereignty of Reason

8) The Great Man Down

9) In My Heart There was a Kind of Fighting

10) Our Wills and Fates Do So Contrary Run
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
“The Royals” is presented in widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is very good. The picture is clear, colors are bright and scenes are realistic. In darkened scenes, night and in the tunnels, the picture is still bright enough to be able to see everything you are meant to see. This is a near-perfect transfer from TV to DVD and I only wish I could see it on Blu-ray, where I’d expect perfection.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
I think part of what made the audio so great were the accents. British accents are some of my favorites and hearing them in English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio is fantastic. For the most part, the dialogue is easily heard, there were only a couple parts where I had a tough time hearing what was said… the characters were either talking softly or too quickly. The sound level is great, no adjustment is needed. In all, it’s got a great soundtrack and that made the whole viewing experience so much better.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
The special features are spread out over discs two and three. I had hoped for more, but the features included are still really good.

Disc 2
  • Madness in Great Ones: Creating The Royals – A look behind the scenes of "The Royals." Interviews with the cast and crew talk about the story, the history, and the traditions.
  • Behind the royal wardrobe – The wardrobe team dresses each character in high fashion and the ideas behind the clothes.
Disc 3
  • Private vs. Public: a modern day monarchy – A quick four minute look at the fictional royal family and what image is actually put forth. Things that go on behind the palace gates are so different than what the public sees.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
“The Royals” is such a great show. I am pleasantly surprised that I liked it so much and now have another show I can’t wait to watch every week. The fashion, the characters, the actors, everything is so well-done and I look forward to seeing what comes next each week. Don’t flip passed it just because it’s on the E! network. Give it a chance. It’s a really great show and super fun to watch.

Order your copy today!

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