Enjoying PBS miniseries ‘Victoria’

Published 6:39 pm Wednesday, January 24, 2018

My wife and I have been going back in time on Sunday nights.

We go back to the England of the 1830s (or maybe the 1840s, now) through the PBS miniseries, “Victoria,” a biographic production about Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 to 1901.

I enjoy reading and watching programs about history, although my interests, except for Civil War navies, lie in more modern times — the 1940s and on through the present, and I like to watch movies and miniseries to see how historically accurate they are. There are two exceptions, a television series on the Ovation Network call “The Halcyon,” which takes place, more or less, in a hotel during the Blitz in London in the early 1940s, and Victoria.

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The reason for the two exceptions is my ignorance of British history outside of my two college world history classes, and my limited knowledge of England during the Blitz outside of the few books I’ve read about the Battle of Britain. So with these two programs I just sit back, relax and enjoy the stories without having to scrutinize every movement or scene with a tense feeling that I may jump up and accuse the producers of some miscue or some abuse of poetic license.

Poetic license is the reason I stopped watching the original “Law and Order.” Having set through a hundred few trials, I got upset when, for the purpose of time, the producers cut up the court trials. I found myself screaming at my wife, “Where’s the redirect (questioning)?”  “Where’s the cross-examination?”

But back to the subjects at hand. It’s because of my lack of knowledge in British history that I enjoy “Victoria.” It’s interesting to see how a young woman suddenly thrust into the realm of politics and statesmanship responds to her surroundings and the people trying to pull at her from all sides. You have to remember that back in the mid-1800s through the early 1900s (and beyond) it was definitely a man’s world; one where women were expected to stay quiet, raise children and keep the house. And a female monarch was supposed to follow her male advisors.

Victoria was different she was a small person — 4 feet 11 inches tall — but she had the heart of a British lion and she proved more than the equal of any man. Her reign is still remembered in England with reverence and awe, and it is a quirk of history that her grandchildren — George V and Kaiser Wilhelm II — ended up facing each other on opposite sides of World War I. The whole series is a marvelous history lesson.

So as I try to read through a book on how Franklin Roosevelt and other world leaders wrestled with the question of how to help Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe and get ready to read “Fire and Fury,” the tell-all book on Donald Trump, I’ll put aside my reading on Sunday night, get in my recliner and get relaxed, put it on PBS and escape to another era.

John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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