Critic Consensus: Though its sumptuous setting and design often outshines its storytelling, Catherine the Great remains a seductive, if scattershot, period drama thanks to the great Helen Mirren.
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Mirren will get an Emmy nod for this because she's Mirren. She is a great actress, and she's certainly good here. A pity she'll get that nod for so cramped a story.
Although you should watch Catherine simply to enjoy the rare reverse May-December pairings, the show isn't by any means perfect.
Nothing is subtle about it: not the acting, not the directing by Philip Martin, not the production design, not the costumes.
The producers and commissioning editors made a decision that their heroine would be older - much older - on screen than she was in real life. Has this happened before? I can't think that it has... and really, it is quite fantastic: game-changing, almost.
This series isn't just a vehicle for [Helen Mirren], it's a golden carriage. She is sumptuously dressed and adoringly, luminously photographed in great palaces in Russia. It's an amazing spectacle but Mirren easily dominates it.
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