Netflix takes a swing at creating a National Geographic-like hybrid series in the first trailer for The Last Czars. The upcoming series blends of talking head-style documentary interviews with experts and scholars, as well as a dramatic recreation of the events being described. For anyone who’s watched some of Nat Geo’s recent hybrid scripted dramas, like Mars or the more recent Valley of the Boom, you’ll have an idea of what Netflix and production company Nutopia is aiming for.
Perhaps the easiest way to sum these hybrid series up is to use the portmanteau, “edutainment.” The word connotes a certain amount of information will be presented to the audience with a greater air of expertise or mastery of the subject matter, typically from people who have devoted a good portion of the professional careers to studying the topic in question. Here, instead of the hypothetical world of putting humans on the Red Planet or looking back at the halcyon days of the dot com era, Netflix will delve into Russian history, taking an in-depth looks as how the Romanov dynasty came to an end and why.
While the production values may leave a bit to be desired and the use of English accents for Russian historical figures makes Chernobyl’s accents seem downright Soviet by comparison, but still there’s a great deal of interesting information to be gleaned from the new series. Check out the trailer and a synopsis of the series below:
“A mix of documentary and reconstruction, The Last Czars chronicles the social upheaval that sweeps Russia in the early 20th century and follows Czar Nicholas II as he resists the change, sparking a revolution and ending a dynasty. The Last Czars takes an in-depth look into what led to the fall of the Romanov dynasty through production company Nutopia’s “mega-doc” lens, using dramatized scenes of historical events and an in-depth look into the history to create one epic series.”
Some of the dramatic elements are very reminiscent of the Christina Hendricks episode of Matt Weiner’s The Romanoffs. That episode, ‘House of Special Purpose’ featured a recreation of the fall of the Romanov dynasty as well, with plenty of melodrama thrown in for good measure. If nothing else, interested viewers can compare the two to see which one came away as the more convincing (and entertaining) recreation of Russian history.
The Last Czars will stream on Netflix beginning Wednesday, July 3.