Kirsty Capes reviews the fourth episode of Versailles…
Last week I said BBC Two’s megabudget Anglo-Franco sexy period drama Versailles might be able to redeem itself after a rather lackluster performance over the past three episodes. A lot was riding on episode four, and France seems to be dominating the news this week, what with the Euro 2016 tournament, Operation Croissant and now a suggestion that it might follow the UK’s lead and stage a Frexit. Our French neighbours have a lot to answer for, not least what is now firmly an absolutely diabolical failure of TV drama.
Versailles is just, plain, horrendous. episode four opens with Louis XIV, who is fast becoming a whiney, miserable so-and-so, storming around the palace with a rather nasty head injury which doesn’t seem to have any context whatsoever and is never explained. Philippe is off fighting a battle in what is supposedly Spain but looks suspiciously like the Yorkshire dales in both scenery and weather. No context for this either.
Sophie appears to be walking past the same bit of Versailles scaffolding in every episode, and the same builder boy seems to be in the same spot too, giving her the same cheeky smile from up in the rafters. Is there only one bit of roofing to be built in the whole of Versailles? Hasn’t Sophie got somewhere else to walk past?
Meanwhile another lovely-looking lady of the court, Madame Montespan, has wormed her way out of the woodwork from apparently nowhere, with no context for her character, to capture the attention of our milky-skinned, sickly-looking King, who everyone seems to inexplicably fancy even though he looks a bit like a dehydrated worm. No one knows who she is or why she’s here. But she is, anyway. Deal with it. She flirts with Louis, who is distraught at the murder of his god-daughter Charlotte on the road. After a brief exchange with Montespan, he is suddenly in unconvincingly high spirits and apparently rather horny.
It’s all just utterly ridiculous. There’s nothing redeeming about Louis himself who is a slimey misogynist, who seems to take pleasure out of manipulating the women in his life (he toys with both Henriette and Louise in this episode with no real motivation). He throws a tantrum when Philippe, who is finally doing something he wants to do without being in the shadow of Louis, is victorious in battle and brings glory to France. Dialogue continues to be strenuous at best. Louis holds a totally meaningless conversation about the shape and size of musket bullet wounds, a transparent and amateurish hack job of engaging him in interaction with the Doctor’s daughter Claudine. Zero nuance.
And still, we’ve got six episodes left of this shit show. There’s not even that much of the promised titillation, just a few bums and shadowy blow job. Much like the poor musician who ends up with a slit throat as Chevalier sucks him off, the only way is up.
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