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Ghost Canyon

'Monarchy With David Starkey - Set 2'
(Dr. David Starkey / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2007 / Acorn Media)

Overview: With a deft blend of disciplined scholarship and dramatic flair, Dr. David Starkey continues his epic documentary on English royal rule. In this series, you'll meet lustful, cagey Charles II, who sired 17 illegitimate children while outmaneuvering his opposition; austere William of Orange, whom Parliament invited to conquer England; plain, pragmatic Anne, who oversaw the expansion of a great empire; George I, who established the Hanoverian line but never learned English; and regal Victoria, who ushered in a new age that saw the Monarchy become the model for middle-class morality.

DVD Verdict: Think of a full-color CliffsNotes combined with one of those Monty Python spoofs of a BBC interviewer and you have a slightly unfair idea of Monarchy. In six episodes of less than an hour each Dr. David Starkey whips us along in a survey of England's...well, Britain', make that the United Kingdom's...queens and kings.

Sir David, as he is known in punctilious society, has given us an elegantly written and presented quick tour, sumptuously mounted. There are beautiful location shots of castles and palaces along with actors richly dressed to the purpose looking at us while Starkey tells us what they were plotting. The one great value of the series, to my mind, is the theme he gives his survey, and that is the continuing struggle between the sovereigns, on the one hand, to be supreme, and the barons, followed by the merchant class, on the other, to maintain a tight hold on the power of the purse.

That struggle in one form or another gave us the Magna Carta, the grudging acceptance of shared rule along with kingly restraint, the concept of the rule of law, and the rise of the common man, even if, as in the House of Commons, the common man and woman wasn't represented all that well by the landed and mercantile classes who filled the Commons' seats. No matter how you look at it, England is a remarkable story for which the civilized world, which often includes the United States, should be grateful.

This wonderful second set aims strong and hard at how the English royal rule evolved from 1660 to the dawn of the 20th century. The lively, engrossing narrative shows how events in the bedroom and on the battlefield shaped Europe's longest-surviving governing institution. In a world rocked by populist revolutions, how did england's monarchs manage to hold on to power? All these questions and many, many more are all answered here on this incredible Set 2 of 'Monarchy.' This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Caroline Graham Biography
Cast Filmographies