The Romanoffs 1.1 FAQ
What’s it called?
“The Violet Hour.”
“Mad Men” mastermind Matthew Weiner directs from his own teleplay.
What says Amazon Prime?
“Set in Paris, an ancestral home holds the key to a family’s future.”
How does it start?
A Frenchwoman takes what she expects might be her last ride in an ambulance.
Is it any good?
Yes. I’ve seen the first three episodes and find them all unusually compelling.
This is an anthology series?
Yes. I’ve seen the first three episodes and they each feature different characters, actors, plotlines and locales. The only thing the episodes share is that they each feature a character who claims to be a descendant of the Russian royal family deposed by the Bolsheviks in 1917. According to Wikipedia, 18 Romanovs were killed while a whopping 47 surviving Romanovs fled abroad.
Are the episodes set during different time periods?
If memory serves, they are all set in the present.
Will the characters in the early episodes meet each other in the later (or final) episodes?
IMDb lists John Slattery in episode four but not episode two, though I saw Slattery quite clearly in episode two. So who can say? I’m certain to watch the entire series to find out.
How many episodes are there?
Is Amazon dumping them all at once tonight?
No. The first two episodes arrive tonight. Then we get one episode per week starting next Thursday night/Friday morning.
Does Weiner repurpose members of the “Mad Men” cast?
He does. John Slattery has a single scene as a Romanov expert in the second episode. Christina Hendricks plays the central character, a famous actress cast in a miniseries about the Romanovs. Jay R. Ferguson turns up later. There may be others, as “Mad Man” had a huge cast and my memory is not what it was.
Who else appears?
Aaron Eckhart and the Swiss actress Marthe Keller (“Marathon Man”) play alleged Romanovs in the first episode. Corey Stoll, Kerry Bishe, Noah Wyle and James Naughton are in the second, about a couple who end up taking unexpectedly separate vacations. Paul Reiser (“Aliens”), Jack Huston (“Boardwalk Empire”) and French actress Isabelle Huppert (“Elle,” “Eva,” “Greta”) are prominent in episode three (which reminded me a lot of the 1980 Peter O’Toole movie “The Stunt Man”). I don’t recall seeing in the first three Diane Lane, Radha Mitchell, Kathryn Hahn, Amanda Peet, Andrew Rannells, Jon Tenney, Clea Duvall, Mary Kay Place, Grffin Dunne, Cara Buono, Nicole Ari Parker and Ron Livingston – though IMDb suggests they all appear in this series at some point.
Do you realize you keep spelling it “Romanovs”?
That’s how it’s spelled, except in the title.
The big news?
The first episode is 85 minutes long. (So is the second and third and likely all the others.)
What else is Amazon not telling us?
Weiner’s mini-movies remind me a lot of Woody Allen’s later work.
Weiner wrote (or co-wrote) and directed all three of the first installments, and does a swell job, as does the sprawling international cast. “Thanks for bringing it up.” “There’s something you didn’t say?” “I think everything’s going to work out.” The dog. The opening credits.
What’s not so good?
“The Romanoffs” is different from “Mad Men,” but I judge it also not as good as “Mad Men,” at least in the early going. The episodes’ biggest weaknesses are their endings. At the end of each of the first three installments, I remarked inwardly and at least once aloud: “That’s it?”
How ends episode one, spoiler boy?
A candle is extinguished.
11:59 p.m. Thursday. Amazon.