*This review contains spoilers for Season 2 Episode 1 of A Discovery of Witches*
In a week where most of us are longing to be anywhere else, A Discovery of Witches is back to provide the kind of time-hopping escapism we could all use right now.
The Sky One drama travels from modern Oxford to Elizabethan London for the first episode of season two, kicking off a season with a very different feel.
Young witch Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer) is back with her vampire lover Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode), after their lucky escape from the shadowy Congregation at the end of the first season. Travelling back in time, they hope to take refuge from their pursuers – vengeful vampires Gerbert, Knox, Satu and Domenico – before harnessing Diana’s powers and finding the Book of Life, the all-powerful text that controls the balance of power.
With us so far? Don’t worry if not.
Viewers might not always understand all of the ins and outs of this multi-faceted, magical world, but when it’s as fun ad vibrant as this, it really doesn’t matter so much.
Most of the time, we’re happy to go with it because of the strength of its two leads – Teresa Palmer and Matthew Goode. Their chemistry carried viewers through all the supernatural hijinks of season one, and the same is true in episode one.
We see them get accustomed to their new surroundings and meet a host of fresh characters. They include Sir Walter Raleigh and Tom Hughes’s Kit Marlowe, the dashing and demonic playwright who is sceptical and mistrustful of Matthew’s relationship with Diana – certainly one to keep an eye on, you’d think.
It’s also revealed that Matthew spent a big chunk of his past life as a spy in the English court, and he’s drawn into the secret world of espionage once again in episode one.
The season is already physically and thematically darker than season one. London in 1590 looks wonderfully grim and grimy, and the dark recesses of the Elizabethan-era capital are wonderfully captured.
The period detailing and costumes are some of the most impressive we’ve seen on UK TV over recent times. Sky were impressed enough to renew the show for two further seasons before filming on the first was even finished, and they’ve clearly invested in capturing a great look for the show here. It really pays off here.
This first episode is like watching a different show, in fact, albeit with brooding, forbidden romance still at its heart.
To have moved out of the show’s comfort zone so suddenly is a bold departure, but in truth the makers of the show didn’t have much choice. The series is based on the All Souls novels by Deborah Harkness, and the new series follows the plot of the second novel Shadow of Night.
As ever, the show does a good job as ever of opening the story up to TV audiences without sexing it up or dumbing it down. It’s fluff and fantasy of the best kind, and the sort of telly that has the power to transport when we need it most.
A Discovery Of Witches airs on Fridays at 9pm on Sky One.
Credit: Original article published here.