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The women chronicled on this TV-documentary set are seriously hardcore characters....
Acorn Media / 185 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: February 5, 2013
On this collection of documentaries about some of England's most notorious leading ladies, Helen Castor guides us through both the grand scheme facets of their biographies as well as some lower-to-the-ground steamy stuff. This is no Harlequin romance, of course, but there are details in She-Wolves: England's Early Queens that Castor definitely feels are important in terms of humanizing the royalty at hand.
In fact, as it happens, the women chronicled here - Matilda of Boulogne, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France, Margaret of Anjou, Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I - were no mere figureheads eating million-dollar meals locked safely away in their castles. These women were key players in continent-wide struggles of life and death, dealing with issues of war, famine, civil unrest - the way Castor makes it sound, they hardly had any time to do anything but govern.
There's a lot of material on this three-hour compilation, and if you're not initially engaged, it might feel a bit overlong, but She-Wolves: England's Early Queens is nevertheless an illuminating portrait of imperative historical figures who may not be as instantly identifiable as some of the queens who followed them. It's definitely never more than above-average television documentary, but that doesn't mean there aren't mesmerizing sagas and tales at hand here.