Although several aspects of the show have gone downhill in Season 3, I think with a few modifications, it has great potential to live up to the promise and quality of the first two seasons, with some tweaks here and there. We've had to contend with losing some long time favorites, which is a puzzler since the discarded characters figured into Victoria and Albert's lives throughout their marriage (Uncle Leopold, Ernest, The Duchess of Kent). These were replaced with a few entirely fictional, trite, and disagreeable characters and plots that felt tacked on, which utterly dragged the show down (notably, the Duke and Duchess of Monmouth and Joseph the footman). And the addition of the Queen's half-sister Feodora, whose relentlessly annoying presence was put there to drive a wedge between the royal couple....why? Besides being grossly inaccurate historically, using her as a vehicle to generate tension between V & A wasn't even necessary - they didn't need assistance to battle each other on so many issues. I think Lord Palmerston and the Queen's two eldest children, Vicky and Bertie, are the sparkling gems of the season. All delightful actors, and their characters stay true to history.
As a student of the Victorian era and a voracious reader of the Queen's biographies, letters, and diaries, I am often irritated by the inaccuracies and historical misrepresentations depicted in the series. However I do realize that sometimes extreme oversimplification is unavoidable in a 45 minute TV format; to couch the storylines that represent actual historical events in their proper and full context would truly be impossible. So I shall deal. BUT...I draw the line at the tremendous distortion of real people in the Queen's life who have been fashioned into absurd caricatures inconsistent with what is known of those individuals - namely Feodora, Victoria's half sister.
Losing the lively Ernest (David Oakes) has been especially disappointing, tending to throw off the dynamic of the show a great deal. His upbeat, playful character complemented the ever serious, sometimes surly, Albert so well. Surely the true events of the Duke's (Ernest) life could have provided the foundation of fairly decent dramatic material. Instead, we've got this incredibly obnoxious, one dimensional Duke of Monmouth who gets more cartoonishly evil in every episode. Such characters and plots make me think Ms. Goodwin is either losing steam or getting a bit lazy.
If there is a Season 4, I'd like to see the following happening. Get RID of Feodora, the Duke and Duchess of Monmouth, the footman, and Abigail Turner (who under NO circumstances would have been brought in off the street as the Queen's senior dresser...another example of extreme oversimplification which history buffs will just groan at...but I digress). Bring back Ernst and Uncle Leopold. Bring in a more realistic lady in waiting to the Queen (how I miss the Duchess of Bucchleuch). At the end of Season 3, with the Great Exhibition, Princess Vicky is 14 in real life and will meet for the first time the man who is to be her future husband and the King of Prussia, whom she marries at 17. So much drama to be had there if the story went in that direction. As was mentioned briefly in a previous episode, now Victoria is pregnant with child #7 (Arthur). After whom came Leopold, diagnosed with hemophilia immediately after birth. This realization came as a shocking blow. And please, give Lord Alfred (Jordan Waller) more to do. I was a great fan of the relationship (entirely fictionalized) between Lord Alfred and Edward Drummond ("Drumfred). I couldn't care less that it was pure fiction, as it was so well written and acted. I thought it was the most engrossing love story of the first two seasons. For goodness sake, bring him back to the front lines!
If the show continues and takes us a few years more into the future, we will lose the actors who play Vickie and Bertie (Louisa Bay and Laurie Shepherd). They are absolutely fabulous and their characters mesh extremely well together. I recommend you check out the freebie bonus short for an inside look at these amazing young stars.
All in all, if the storylines are sharpened up a bit and things get back on a par with the overall high quality of the first two seasons, I will be looking forward to a Season 4.
FOOTNOTE: If you purchased the entire season in advance, you will receive an email from Amazon each week with a link to the lastest episode, usually Sunday late overnight into Monday, which is several hours after each show airs on television. These are then stored in your video library and you can watch them at any time. They aren't rentals - they're yours forever.