tek's rating: ½

Still Star-Crossed, on ABC
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Caution: potential spoilers.

This is based on a book I haven't read. The premise is what happens in Verona following the deaths of Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, but the pilot begins with their wedding, which is witnessed by Romeo's cousin, Benvolio, and Juliet's cousin, Rosaline. (Though neither cousin approves of the marriage.) This version of the story differs from Shakespeare's original in some ways, including the fact that before Juliet, Romeo apparently hadn't been in love with Rosaline. As for Rosaline, she was in love with Prince Escalus, who returns to Verona in the pilot, after having apparently been away for some time. He returns now because his father, the ruler of the city, is dying. And upon his death, Escalus becomes Verona's new ruler. This puts him in a difficult position, in various ways. For one thing, it will be practically impossible for him to have a relationship with Rosaline. But his main concern is to try to stop the conflict between the city's two most powerful families, the Montagues and the Capulets. This isn't just because of the understandable desire to keep peace within the city, but also because during his travels, he'd learned just how powerful surrounding cities are, at least two of which would happily take advantage of the chaos within Verona to invade and claim its riches for themselves. Uniting the warring families would make Verona stronger, and less susceptible to attack. But whereas Shakespeare's story seemed to put an end to the families' conflict when their respective children died, in this series the conflict just gets worse. So... Escalus, despite his love for Rosaline, tries to arrange a marriage between her and Benvolio. But it doesn't seem like that's going to happen, since the two of them hate each other.

Anyway, there are various other things going on, and there are a lot of characters to keep track of. Rosaline and her sister, Livia, were orphaned sometime earlier, their parents apparently having been murdered by Montagues. After that, Juliet's parents, Lord Silvestro (Anthony Head) and Lady Giuliana (Zuleikha Robinson) took them in. But Giuliana insisted on making them servants, rather than treating them like family. Livia doesn't seem to mind this as much as Rosaline, and more importantly, she is eager to find a husband, which Rosaline doesn't seem interested in. Meanwhile, Romeo's father, Lord Damiano (Grant Bowler, whom I know from Defiance), has been secretly planning to gain an advantage over the Capulets for quite some time. In fact, we learn that he had conspired with Friar Lawrence to encourage Romeo's interest in Juliet, without Romeo's being aware of it. Of course, this would have united the two families, and I guess because any children the couple would have had would bear the name Montague, that would make that family dominant, because the patriarchy. Another important character I must mention is Escalus's sister, Princess Isabella, whose views on how best to govern Verona differ somewhat from her brother's. Also, Lord Silvestro had arranged for Count Paris, heir to the throne of Mantua, to marry Juliet. Anyway, right before Romeo kills himself, in the pilot, he has a fight with Paris, in which the latter is left for dead. But Paris later wakes up, and apparently makes his way back to the home of the Capulets, where Lady Guiliana is secretly tending to his wounds. Soon after that, Livia discovers him there, and also helps him recover from his wounds. A relationship will slowly develop between Livia and Paris.

Well, throughout the brief (seven episode) series, there is much conspiring to keep the feud between Montagues and Capulets going, even while Escalus does all he can to put an end to it. But the conspiracy is about more than the two warring families; it also has the ultimate goal of replacing Escalus with a new prince (whose identity I won't reveal). Eventually Rosaline and Benvolio learn a bit about the conspiracy, and begin their own investigations. In the process, they learn to trust each other and become friends. And I guess I'm not sure what else to tell you. Except there are still other characters of varying degrees of importance, like Friar Lawrence, and the Nurse of house Capulet, and a woman named Tessa who is Damiano Montague's sister, I guess. She'd been away for some time, but returned to Verona about halfway into the series.

Anyway, the series ends on a cliffhanger, so it seems the writers were planning on another season. Alas, the show was cancelled after one season, so we'll never know what might have happened. (I mean, unless we read the book, I guess. But I don't plan on doing that.) I did find the show somewhat interesting, but not enough that I'm particularly disappointed by the cancellation.

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