Review: 'Godunov' Season 1 Begins With Intrigue And Royal Drama

Godunov Sergey Bezrukov Ivan Godunov
“Godunov” is a costume drama that chronicles an exciting part of history. Set in Russia, the series tells the story of its titular real-life character, Boris Godunov (Sergey Bezrukov), and his rise to prominence. Making Godunov’s ascent all the more intriguing is that he rises in the court of Ivan the Terrible.

The series starts at a compelling pace before getting contemplative. This Season 1 review is based on the period piece's first two episodes. There is a second season also streaming. “Godunov” tackles its titular character's ambitions and his unrequited affection for and pursuit of his eventual wife.

The show also offers an eye-opening understanding of what was happening in Russia at the same time Queen Elizabeth I was reigning England. Numerous films and series have been devoted to that segment of history.

She is subsequently mentioned in “Godunov,” and it is fascinating to match the two worlds that were England and Russia at the same time. The first two episodes of Season 1 do not show England and it does not need too. Enough shows have done that for viewers. “Godunov” is here to tell Russia's side.

For some context, “Godunov” starts around the 1570s and goes into what can be surmised as the 1580s in its first two episodes. That is almost 90 years after the lead character of “Medici” Season 2 (Lorenzo de' Medici aka Lorenzo the Magnificent) died, per Wikipedia.

Concurrently speaking, Queen Elizabeth I was born in 1533 and reigned from 1558 until her death in 1603, per Wikipedia. Boris Godunov was born in 1551 and died in 1605, per Wikipedia. Two years after Queen Elizabeth I's life and reign concluded.

In terms of The CW series, “Reign,” and its timetable, Mary Queen of Scots was executed in 1587. So, to get this dramatized glimpse into what was happening in Russia at the same time as Elizabeth I and Mary's story was reaching its crescendo is remarkably worthwhile.

Thus, “Godunov” is part of a fascinating realm of world history. One that will undoubtedly lead curious minds to further research. “Godunov” shows off the intrigues of the Russian court and the various entanglements that follow. It is a tale that merits educating one’s self on as it is a history filled with great intrigue.

The production quality of “Godunov” is top-notch, and the costuming is impressive. As a whole, the series sports a different feel than other entries. It is another unique peek into a long history that other historical epics recently released from Russia have helped flesh out.

Long before Catherine the Great, and Peter the Great, there was Ivan the Terrible. “Godunov” gives him some of the spotlight. His presence casts an uncomfortable shadow of madness onto the proceedings as his mind plunges further into the abyss. As those who have seen “Tsar” can attest, it is a grim descent.

The first two episodes of “Godunov” skip through some seemingly pivotal bits of time for its lead. For instance, it would have been interesting to have caught up with Boris Godunov, a little before his rapid ascent. He, sort of sweeps in without much context. True to how people are introduced in life, albeit a bit too distant to instantly engage with on a television show.

Personal milestones also get passed through rather quickly. The courtship of Godunov’s sister and her eventual husband happens at a startlingly rapid rate with both of them appearing to have fallen in love within the blink of an eye.

While Boris' relationship with his wife proves frostier than the Arctic circle. Viewers do not get to see their relationship develop through crucial developments in their early married life.

As a historical drama that provides another crucial window into a bustling period in the world, it is educational. As a series, there is an abundance of drama in the political realm. “Godunov” is an excellently produced series that tempts the audience to continue further.

Rating: 7/10

The first season of “Godunov” is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

[Featured Image by Channel One Russia]