TV Review: The Palace

February 15th, 2008

The Palace, a new series from ITV in the UK.

The setup is pretty simple: The West Wing meets The Queen.

That’s a difficult premise to live up to – one of the best TV series of all time, and one of the best films of recent years.

Inevitably, it doesn’t live up all the way to the source material, but it does come surprisingly close.

The show really covers three overlapping worlds – the feuds and conflicts of the royal family, the intrigues of the politicians and the political staff, and the below stairs antics of the pages and valets.

The political side works best – it’s so reminiscent of The West Wing that you can almost assign characters. The problems surrounding the king are well imagined, and the consequences play out nicely. There’s also some lovely acting from the king and his staff.

The family side is a bit more arch – the Princess Eleanor in particular is a fantastic villain. There’s a bit more scenery chewing, but it’s still fun stuff.

The weakest point is the servants side – it’s played quite ‘camp’, and the cast of characters is implausibly small for a palace. Fortunately not much time is spent on this stuff, and it can be quite funny.

Only five episodes in so far (out of eight for the initial first season order), but it’s worth watching.