Review of EP01: Knight
“You’re a whore…and my mother. I suggest you choose which you want to be. I will not have both!” ~ Edward III
So we begin the Ken Follett tale, World Without End, a new show premiering on Showcase here in Canada on Tuesday evenings, Channel 4 in the UK and Reelz in the US on October 17th. It is based on Follett’s wildly successful book of the same name.
Set in fictional Knightsbridge, the town in which the book and Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth”, was based, it begins with a frantic chase. A knight kills his pursuers while two boys watch from behind a bush. They take the injured knight back to their village where they learn his name is Sir Thomas Langley. He asks to become a monk to hide a terrible secret.
We meet Caris (played by Charlotte Riley, “The Take”, “Wuthering Heights”), a young visionary healer. We meet Petranilla, Caris’s selfish and devious aunt (played by “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon). I like Nixon but I will be honest – I’m not a fan of Nixon’s attempt at a British accent; it’s not the greatest. Caris is caring for her ill mother and Petranilla wants to assure her son Godwyn’s (played by Rupert Evans, “Agora“, “Hellboy”) education at Oxford so she poisons her sister-in-law. Caris’s father is arrested as a traitor by Queen Isabella’s men and Petranilla comes to plead for her brother’s life to sleazy Sir Roland (played by Peter Firth, “Amistad”, “The Greatest Game Ever Played”). She attempts to bribe him to save her brother and succeeds. Riley’s performance is the best on this show by far; she’s feisty and enjoyable to watch.
The Earl of Shiring is arrested for plotting against the new King under orders of Queen Isabella (played by Aure Atika (“Sticky Fingers”) Sir Roland spares his sons and takes one on as a squire.
Meanwhile, Edward III (played by Blake Ritson, “Emma”, “Mansfield Park”) is onto his mother and her lover, Roger Mortimer. Edward has Mortimer seized for the murder of his father. He knows Mortimer conspired with Sir Thomas Langley to kill Edward II because of a letter Isabella burned. While Isabella claims she knew nothing of this treachery, Mortimer is promptly dragged from bed and hanged. There is a Hollywood “artistic liberty” taken here because this is not what happens historically. Mortimer is hanged but not until after a month long trial in Parliament. Lastly, Petranilla tries to marry off Caris to get rid of her once and for all.
There was a lot packed into this first episode and although there were some graphic scenes to keep people glued to their screens, the opening episode really wasn’t engaging me and keeping my interest. I felt that it was just “OK” with a few good lines and solid moments but for the most part, it was rather forgettable. The acting wasn’t bad but it wasn’t stellar either (with the exception of Riley). This is disconcerting considering Follett is the consultant on this miniseries. I was hoping that because the author had input, the series would be that much better. It doesn’t seem to be the case. I will continue watching it to see if it improves but this pilot episode disappointed me.