This a beautiful and fascinating production dramatizing a seminal moment in Russian history. It is not as dramatically subtle or sophisticated as the best our productions of this sort, but one can glean a lot of insight about how Russians see themselves, their politics, and their history. There is an enormous hunger throughout Russian history for wise and decisive rule, the more autocratic and absolute the more admirable.In this regard, Empress Elizabeta is perhaps the most interesting character in the series. Most of the other characters are drawn as rather stiff motifs of their sort--the wise counsellor, the ruthless diplomat, the idiotic prince, the frivolous (or completely devoted) maid of honor, and so on. Love scenes are also unsubtle, more like Mexican soaps or movies for American teens.The subtitles were written by a hilariously inept translator, and are an entertainment in their own right. The Russian language is so delicious,and the voices so impressive, that it would be butchery to dub this series.
Most important, however, if you want to understand the potent mix of emotions driving Russian politics and society today, you're much better off immersing yourself in this series rather than current news and analysis. This was not produced in a censoring dictatorship, but it is still mindful of and shares the rather simple, powerful, and often willfully dangerous sensibilities swirling in Russia today.
Not least, Marina Aleksandrova is magnificent and majestic in her portrayal. Her tragic eyes speak volumes. She must also have been swept up in the character, since she named her daughter born in 2015 Ekaterina.