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'Reign' review: Gossip girls of 16th century

The CW doesn't like to stretch too far beyond its target demo, which, after watching "Reign," I've decided must be teen girls who failed History class.

"Reign" (8 p.m. CT Oct. 17, CW; 2 stars out of 4) tells the story of Mary, Teen of Scots, who is being raised in a remote French convent. That is, until a thwarted assassination attempt leads her allies to ship her off to the royal court, where presumably the family of her sexy betrothed, Prince Francis (Toby Regbo), can protect her.

A carriage full of her childhood friends arrives to serve as her ladies-in-waiting. Francis' disapproving mother, Catherine de Medici (Megan Follows), advised by bearded hottie Nostradamus (Rossif Sutherland) that Mary will be the death of Francis, launches a devious plan. Meanwhile Catherine's husband, King Henry II (Alan Van Sprang), launches something else with one of Mary's young ladies. (Don't worry, moms, The CW has trimmed some of the masturbation scene.)

I'm sorry, did I write Mary, Teen of Scots? I meant Mary, Queen of Scots. Please forgive my confusion, but parts of the premiere play a bit like a "Gossip Girl" episode, not a costume drama set in the 16th century. What was "Gossip Girl" without the designer fashions, er, costumes? Or the backstabbing bitchiness? Or the romance and longing? Or the modern soundtrack?

That screech you just heard was my record player being silenced. Oh wait, that reference doesn't work for "Reign's" demo. Anyway, what doesn't work on this show is pretty much everything.

Nevermind the historical inaccuracies, like the fact that the real Francis was a short, sickly child, or that Nostradamus would have been in his 50s at this time. Let's just talk about the real Mary, who inspired assassination plots, revolts and even a war or two in her lifetime. Here, Adelaide Kane's wooden Mary couldn't inspire a Miley Cyrus lyric.

Still, "Reign" isn't half bad at times with its marvelous costumes, palace intrigues and Follows' delicious take on Catherine. But the minute you start getting into the fantasy, you're yanked right out by the contemporary music and other oddities—like a montage of giggling gals putting on makeup.

Creator and executive producer Laurie McCarthy seems to be going for the dour mood of Sofia Coppola's 2006 flick "Marie Antoinette." Too bad. If she actually committed to making a gritty costume drama, it would be far more interesting.

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Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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