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Catherine the Great is an upcoming British-American miniseries starring Helen Mirren as titular Catherine the Great. The 18th century Russian tsarina gets her own mini-series biopic which will have special focus on the Hermitage art museum she created.

An HBO/Sky collaboration.

Cast

  • Helen Mirren as Catherine the Great
  • Jason Clarke as Grigory Potemkin
  • Gina McKee as Praskovya Bruce
  • Rory Kinnear as Nikita Ivanovich Panin
  • Richard Roxburgh as Grigory Orlov

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 First episode of the miniseries is airing Thursday, October 3 on Sky, and October 21 on HBO.

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Russian Empress Catherine the Great faces challenges to her throne on all sides, as she meets the forthright and bold Lieutenant Grigory Potemkin.

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S1.E1

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Russian Empress Catherine the Great faces challenges to her throne on all sides, as she meets the forthright and bold Lieutenant Grigory Potemkin.

Original UK air date: 10/3/19
Original U.S. air date: 10/21/19

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
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5 hours ago, meep.meep said:

all you notice are the crappy wigs on the men.

I kept getting the male characters mixed up because of all the powdered wigs. 

I enjoyed the party at the end. I guess that was the aristocratic ball version of powder puff football!

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22 minutes ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

I kept getting the male characters mixed up because of all the powdered wigs. 

I had to use the IMDb page to help keep them all straight.

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On 9/25/2019 at 2:27 AM, scrb said:

Question is, will they try to depict the horse scene?

At least I'm not the only horrible person who had this thought in his head during the whole first ep.

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The wigs at the time were never meant to look like actual hair. The hairlines were not blended in, no attempt was made to make the wigs look like the hair was growing out of the head. They were obviously wigs, intended to be worn as decoration and status symbols, never meant to look like natural hair in color or style or abundance of hair. They DID look like "hats" with an obvious edge. Think of Britain's judicial wigs that are in use today. No attempt made to disguise the hairlines. They are worn like hats. Just saying. . . . . 

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On 9/25/2019 at 2:27 AM, scrb said:

Question is, will they try to depict the horse scene?

I hope not because it isn't true.

Spoiler

This smear likely occurred because Catherine was a powerful woman who openly had affairs during her marriage to Peter and many more after he was murdered. She had three children with her lovers.

I can believe that Helen really wanted to do this role. Her father is Russian. She likely feels a strong connection to Catherine and the Russian people.

Edited by SimoneS
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S1.E2

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A victorious Potemkin returns from war to find Catherine preoccupied, leading the two to speak candidly about their pasts and future, while a Cossack stirs discontent among peasants in the countryside.

Promo:

Original UK air date: 10/3/19

Original USA air date: 10/27/19

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
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On 10/22/2019 at 11:50 AM, meep.meep said:

Jason Clarke is miscast.

For real. They can't keep referring to him as "boy" and "so gorgeous" when he's not. (I mean, he's not bad looking.) Jason Clarke is 50.

Edited by springbarb
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On 10/27/2019 at 3:18 PM, Maybeitsme said:

So far I think I like it

Me too. The only thing I know about Catherine is from the Ekaterina series on Amazon Prime.

It seems everyone is pretty open about their relationships! Catherine and her friend seem pretty nonchalant about sharing a man. That public handjob had me laughing.

Her son seems like a moron.

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I am a history nerd, and pretty much anything Russian or having to do with the Romanovs captures my attention.  This however is not keeping me entertained or informed.  I know Catherine was a very powerful and shrewd ruler. But so far both of these episodes have been about a teenage romance between senior citizens.  If they want to explore the Potemkin relationship, I’m OK with it because it happened and was a big part of her rule.  However, this seems to be written for 2 actors in high school vs. mature adults.  And I cannot stand the actor playing Catherine’s friend the Countess.  She is very stilted and trying to sound haughty or imperious, but it comes across as bad local theater.

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26 minutes ago, BusyOctober said:

I am a history nerd, and pretty much anything Russian or having to do with the Romanovs captures my attention.  This however is not keeping me entertained or informed.  I know Catherine was a very powerful and shrewd ruler. But so far both of these episodes have been about a teenage romance between senior citizens.  If they want to explore the Potemkin relationship, I’m OK with it because it happened and was a big part of her rule.  However, this seems to be written for 2 actors in high school vs. mature adults.  And I cannot stand the actor playing Catherine’s friend the Countess.  She is very stilted and trying to sound haughty or imperious, but it comes across as bad local theater.

I don't know Russian history.

You would think Mirren wouldn't have signed on to this project if it's all going to be about her tittering like a teen girl the whole series.

I know they have to have some romantic interest to draw in viewers but it would be a strange choice if they decided to base it mostly on the relationship.

There was a recent movie about some historical figure, Marie Antoinette I thought, in which the characterization of these historical figures came across as vapid teens.

It appears the main writer is Nigel Williams, who has a lot of credits including The Name of the Rose and a few other historical dramas.  More a journeyman than some visionary so maybe this isn't going to be some new look at this history so much as something to throw out to prestige TV viewers.

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After much anticipation for this show, I found the first episode mediocre, but episode 2 was awful.  The dialogue was cringeworthy as was the storyline. Such a waste of talent, and potential material. Boo hiss !! 😡

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23 hours ago, peridot said:

Her son seems like a moron.

And naive.   I keep wondering why Catherine didn't groom him as her successor, or at least keep him closer so that others couldn't use him as a weapon against her.

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On 10/29/2019 at 10:28 AM, BusyOctober said:

I am a history nerd, and pretty much anything Russian or having to do with the Romanovs captures my attention.  This however is not keeping me entertained or informed.  I know Catherine was a very powerful and shrewd ruler. But so far both of these episodes have been about a teenage romance between senior citizens.  If they want to explore the Potemkin relationship, I’m OK with it because it happened and was a big part of her rule.  However, this seems to be written for 2 actors in high school vs. mature adults.  And I cannot stand the actor playing Catherine’s friend the Countess.  She is very stilted and trying to sound haughty or imperious, but it comes across as bad local theater.

I was just about to write almost the very same things. I love Helen Mirren, I love Russian history, the costumes and sets are gorgeous, but I just can’t get very interested. I’m wondering if watching it as a binge - dunno, I’m just massively disappointed. I think they needed someone much more charismatic to play Potemkin in order to make that whole episode believable. 

Edited by Calamity Jane
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As much as I love Helen Mirrien, I thought that Catherine was suppose to be around 40 when all this happened. 

I agree with the above posters that both Catherine and Gregory are portrayed as teenagers lusting after each other.

I'll watch it because Catherine the Great fascinates me. 

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On 10/29/2019 at 1:04 PM, scrb said:

It appears the main writer is Nigel Williams, who has a lot of credits including The Name of the Rose and a few other historical dramas.  More a journeyman than some visionary so maybe this isn't going to be some new look at this history so much as something to throw out to prestige TV viewers.

If that's the most recent TV version of The Name of the Rose with John Tuturro, that was boring beyond belief. 

I've tried to watch both of the first 2 episodes, but I can't even get involved enough to listen to the dialog.  I suppose the costumes, wigs and makeup are reasonably authentic, but my God, they look ridiculous.  Talk about a "costume drama".  I think this is a case where the costumes are wearing the actors, rather than the reverse. 

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S1.E3

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Catherine and Potemkin experience growing pains in their relationship, as Potemkin's push for expansion puts him at odds with Panin.

Promo:

Original UK airdate: 10/3/19
Original USA airdate: 11/4/19

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On 10/26/2019 at 10:14 PM, springbarb said:

For real. They can't keep referring to him as "boy" and "so gorgeous" when he's not. (I mean, he's not bad looking.) Jason Clarke is 50.

that's my main problem... boy... well i guess he isn't a girl, so he has that going for him...

He was in his 30s when

Spoiler

they had a supposed secret wedding

He also

Spoiler

died in his early 50s. Long after he fell out of favor.

so having a 50 y.o. playing him... a 50 y.o. who looks like 50 y.o.

EDIT:

I also have a problem with everyone using his military rank when referring to him. He was a prince and that's how he would be addressed and referred to. 

Edited by vavera4ka
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The first episode aired overnight in Australia after waiting what felt like an eternity. I really enjoyed the first ep. I admit I have no knowledge about Catherine's life at all. The episode was really good until the 'cross dressing' ball. That went on forever and had no point and then it just ended. So weird. 

And like any good historical drama I spent time after the episode Wikipedia-ing characters to see if what happened to them happened ie the guy who got head lopped off and who Prisoner One was.

And from Wikipedia I feel the Romanovs were lucky to survive into the 20th Century as the ruing Monarch with the amount of backstabbing and overthrowing that was occurring for the throne.

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Yeah, didn’t get any better in the third episode. I’ll watch the last episode because it is still interesting and visually very appealing, but, dang, what a waste of Helen Mirren. I think the timeline of events is really messed up, not uncommon in these sorts of shows, and it just bugs. Maybe it would have been ok as one 2-hour film, but this is just torturous. 

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I watched this mini-series only because of the glorious Helen Mirren and even she is having a hard time rising above the positively awful writing here. The rest of the cast members, some good in other projects, aren't as successful. The costumes and sets are well done, so there was obviously some money behind this but overall, I consider it a failed project. I'm honestly somewhat surprised that HBO allowed itself to be attached to it.

It's not a good sign when you find yourself happy to discover that there's only one episode left. As I've stuck it out though the first three, I'll watch the finale, but I'm not expecting much.

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On 10/30/2019 at 9:20 AM, terrymct said:

And naive.   I keep wondering why Catherine didn't groom him as her successor, or at least keep him closer so that others couldn't use him as a weapon against her.

Because he was taken from her as soon as he was born and raised by the previous Empress, her mother in law.  

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What was that Camp show where actors who were in their 30s and 40s were purposefully used to play teenagers for comedic effect? I feel like that's what they're doing on this show, except it's not a comedy, so wtf is going on? 

Edited by Zima
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On 11/5/2019 at 6:49 PM, greekmom said:

I'm confused. Didn't the Orlov brothers take out Potemkin's eye? Now in episode 3 he has both eyes.

I've been looking at that.  They're showing his left eye as a darker color, as if the pupil is blown or something.   It seems like they're saying that Catherine's acceptance of his scar and funky eye was the push he needed to go without the patch.

Edited to add a photo.  You can kind of see what I mean here.

catherine-the-great-grigory-potemkin-1570127414.jpg

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SERIES FINALE!

S1.E4

Quote

Pressure from foreign powers leads to a bitter argument between Catherine and an ailing Potemkin; Catherine works to change the line of succession as her reign draws to an end.

Promo:

Original UK air date: 10/3/19
Original U.S. air date: 11/11/19

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo

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Oh boy, this is a spectacular fail IMO.  The writing is awful.  I'm confused what direction they wanted to go in, and who was the audience?  On the surface, it looked like this was to be a sweeping period drama with some heavy hitter actors to bring gravitas to the fascinating historical characters.  But after watching 3 of 4 episodes, and listening to the dialogue, I'm wondering if the writers meant for this to be an 21st century take on 18th century events?  Kinda like Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette"; period costumes  with a little modern edge, modern dialogue and music???  Or was it supposed to be one of the updated takes on Shakespeare, a la "Ten Things I Hate About You"???  There were at least 3 anachronistic phrases in Ep 3 alone!  I am not a linguistics expert (nor do I care to look up the etymology), but these just stood out as real sour notes to my ears: 

Catherine to her son: "Get a grip!"

Catherine on her way into her council meeting: "Let's do this!"

Potemkin at some point between kissing hands and feet: "Let's get this show on the road!"

Helen Mirren is fine, despite the "schmoopy" love sick teenager dreck she has to convey.  Jason Clarke's acting has been rapidly getting worse each episode. I hope there were a lot of Tums on set after he chewed threw all that scenery. 

This TV year has been such a disappointment that as a history nerd, and Romanov enthusiast!  First the God-awful "Romanovs" on Prime, then this shit show from HBO.  Maybe it's a sign that I should just keep reading books to get me history fix.

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1 hour ago, BusyOctober said:

This TV year has been such a disappointment that as a history nerd, and Romanov enthusiast!  First the God-awful "Romanovs" on Prime, then this shit show from HBO.  Maybe it's a sign that I should just keep reading books to get me history fix.

If you are not opposed to foreign language shows with subtitles, Prime has some Russian period shows.

Catherine (two seasons, I believe). It's not up there with the best shows unfortunately, but miles better than this... thing... lol

There're also couple shows that deal with Rurik dynasty.

Sophia 

Godunov

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TV and film will always try to make historical figures sexy.

Not that I've watched all of them but I can't think of some period movie or show which didn't have a lot of romantic, softcore elements.

Otherwise, contemporary audiences may not care, because there aren't enough history nerds who'd be looking for accurate depiction of the historical importance of these figures.

Think of The Tudors or The Borgias.  Or Rome.

I don't recall if Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett had sexy elements or not.

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Fourth episode just as bad as the first three, although there was the satisfaction of getting rid of Potemkin at long last. Probably nothing could have saved this mess, but a better Potemkin would have helped, at least with understanding how he became such a big deal. I’m not sure where this went off the rails, but it was hugely disappointing. Devastating waste of talent. 

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I fell asleep halfway through Ep 4.  I don't think I will bother to finish it.  I can go read a Wikipedia entry about anyone involved if I'm curious enough.  I complained several times about the writing, but I think Jason Clarke deserves some blame in making this so unenjoyable.  His acting was too...actor-y? Amateurish? Misdirected? OTT?  I don't know, but I just didn't buy into his portrayal. And his mustache looked like something the wardrobe dpt found in a clearance bin at Party City.  

This miniseries was a big fail. 

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11 hours ago, BusyOctober said:

I fell asleep halfway through Ep 4.  I don't think I will bother to finish it.  I can go read a Wikipedia entry about anyone involved if I'm curious enough.  I complained several times about the writing, but I think Jason Clarke deserves some blame in making this so unenjoyable.  His acting was too...actor-y? Amateurish? Misdirected? OTT?  I don't know, but I just didn't buy into his portrayal. And his mustache looked like something the wardrobe dpt found in a clearance bin at Party City.  

This miniseries was a big fail. 

Yes, it always felt as if Jason Clarke was trying really hard to show us a personality he just doesn’t have. Somehow, as well, the whole thing just felt unfocused and kind of random. It’s terrible that such talent and resources were put into such an unworthy project. 

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Saw it just to finish it. I agree with the poster above the language which infused modern colloquialism was just gawd awful.

I had to check wiki to confirm exactly what happened with Paul's assassination.  Interesting enough, it wasn't under Alexander's direction.

Catherine's greatest failure was Paul.  After Elizabeth died, she could have taken back and created a relationship with her son, woo him over to her side of the story instead of having Paul romanticize Peter's life and death.  She could have groomed him to take over Russia while having him loyal to her.  Eh, hindsight is 20/20.  

I am not sure where to find the show anymore (youtube is very difficult) but Magnificent Century was very well done.  It's a Turkish drama series set in Ottoman Sultan Suleyman reign and his harrem.  

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Oh, Helen. What have they done to you? You deserve to perform in so much better than this soap opera dreck. 

I can barely understand the plot any more it's so B level to the elderly sexcapades of the Russian Court.  And it's so unsexy even at that level. 

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On 10/29/2019 at 1:08 PM, peridot said:

Her son seems like a moron.

That's 'cause he WAS, and his father was far worse.

Fun fact: Helen Mirren's grandfather was a Russian diplomat who was stranded in Britain with the Commies took over in 1917.

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On 11/8/2019 at 3:35 PM, scrb said:

I don't recall if Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett had sexy elements or not.

That was a horror movie akin to Friday the Thirteenth or Scream.

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