A Sumptuous Feast for the Eyes

We hear at Casa Monomakhos have pretty much sworn off of broadcast television. Hopefully, the “plug will be pulled” on cable TV as well. Between the Kardashians and some Bachelor spin-off, it’s so boring that watching paint dry is more exhilarating.

However, there is Netflix. A lot of good stuff there, most especially, The Crown.

Anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for Amazon Prime. Far be it from me to add another nickel to Jeff Bezos’ massive portfolio, I’ve got to leave the politics of it aside and make the same recommendation to you all. Because I did so I found the most sumptuous television experience in a long time.

I’m talking about Sophia.

For those who don’t know, Sophia is an eight-part episodic series set in medieval Russia. It tells the tale of Zoe Paleologina, the last Byzantine princess who was the niece of Constantine IX Paleologos, Constantinople’s last emperor.

The story begins in Rome, where we find Zoe and her brother Andrea living in exile under the Pope’s protection. Beautiful yet something of a tomboy, she is practicing shooting a crossbow, a most unlady-like endeavor. It then alights upon the Grand Duchy of Moscow, where we are introduced to the widowed Grand Duke Ivan III Vassileyevich.

The scenery, costumes and cinematography is top-notch as is the dialogue. The acting is a welcome respite from the run-of-the-mill historical soap operas that are popular. Unlike Reign for instance, the acting and dialogue is understated and realistic.

Of course, it’s more familiar for Orthodox Christians all things being equal and thus, more enjoyable. For me it brought back memories of the Moscow Kremlin where much of the action takes place.

Below is a clip from Sophia. You won’t be disappointed.


  1. George, was almost ready to cancel my prime, but maybe not just yet. Thanks for this!

    • George Michalopulos says

      You’re welcome!

      Please lemme know what y’all think.

      P.S. for what it’s worth, I can see why women would be drawn to this period piece. The central character of course is a woman and she must navigate her life based on not only her own desires but those of powerful men. And yet she more than holds her own. Then there are the costumes: elegant, exquisite and extremely colorful.

  2. I was wondering whether I should watch this one — thanks for the review, I’ll check it out!

  3. I’ve been a long-time reader of this site, but feel compelled to make my first post.

    I too stumbled upon this excellent drama, and was immediately blown away by how good it is. Light years ahead of most drivel we see in modern Western entertainment. One thing I appreciated was how “moral” the characters behave – even during a time of violence that few modern folks couldn’t fathom. Much better than the dystopian Social Justice Warrior fare of current American cinema!

    • George Michalopulos says

      By Jove! I believe you got it right!

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Plus, Tom, the icon of a woman, a wife, was so beautifully written! I loved the way Sophia spoke to her husband and how she reacted when he disagreed.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Indeed! I had lunch with two men from parish yesterday and we talked about the series. I’m trying to wrap my head around an insight that was given and hopefully next week it will be more developed.

        In short, her marriage was providential and it put the kybosh on the Pope’s plans for the future.

  4. If we’re promoting popular culture, this might be the best place to post this:


    I present Les Brigandes, a conservative French musical group. Many of their videos have subtitles and they are actually quite entertaining. Their lyrics touch on a lot of issues that Monomakhos does, from the perspective of some traditionalist French Catholics (although at least one member is Russian, possibly Orthodox).

    Scroll to the bottom for their earlier videos, which are by far the most entertaining. They have wit and pretty catchy tunes to go with it.

  5. I love period drams so when I found this, I watched it avidly. A really good drama, well acted and wonderful costumes, acting and scenery. If I had a criticism, it would be that it felt too short – it felt like there should have been more going and that it ended abruptly. I would have loved to see more of her later life. There is also another drama I started watching on Youtube which I need to find again which dealt with a noble conspiracy during the reign of the Emperor Nicholas I (I think).

    I think the period that Sophia was set in is really interesting and if anyone else has any good Russian period drams to recommend, please let me know!

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Bashful82, I think there is another season coming. I certainly hope so! (You don’t need to be “bashful” with this group, BTW. So happy when new people join the group!)