blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Shadow of the Tower (1972) s01e11 – The Strange Shapes of Reality

Oh, no, Richard Warwick is back. And now we’re getting the story of his time just imprisoned, because the king (James Maxwell) pities him so won’t just execute him. Executing him means taking him seriously as a threat to the crown and Warwick can’t be seen as a threat. And so on and so forth. So we get an entire episode about Warwick being a brat in captivity, but his keepers still give him a blind boy. Like… literally, a blond, blind boy to comfort Warwick. Meanwhile Warwick’s wife, Elizabeth MacLennan, has to learn to deal with being nobility falsely married off to a pretender and how’s she going to cope. Plus there’s the whole thing where her identity is changing completely out of her control and through no fault of her own. Everyone lied to her and used her as a pawn.

MacLennan’s good. Like, the episode’s not good, but MacLennan’s good. And her story arc, where Maxwell sees her as a pal so much MacLennan gets confronted by Marigold Sharman (as the king’s mother), which leads to a good enough scene. Shame they can’t bring the same humanity to Warwick.

So, again, there’s stuff in the script for Warwick to work with. He gets to see how a real king—Maxwell—behaves. He gets humiliated at public confessions. He has these potentially great scenes opposite MacLennan. But Warwick’s just too flat. His take on the character is he’s too stupid to know what’s going on, which clashes with the various acts of agency he’s had throughout this episode and last. It’s kind of what he was like in the first appearance small part, but Warwick really ought to have tried to develop the character past that point… But he didn’t, because Warwick’s bad.

At this point, I’m just hoping “Tower” doesn’t drop too much further or I’m going to be eating my words on the comedy episodes making it all worth it. Because it’s worse than just mediocre, it’s a misfire. The show has done much better and much, much better. Warwick is bleeding the show.

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