Catherine the Great(s)

(Pictured above: Marina Aleksandrova in ‘Ekaterina’)

Love historical royal dramas like Netflix’s The Crown or Showtime’s The Tudors? Then head over to Amazon Prime for Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great.

Ekaterina, subtitled in English for US viewers, was a major hit in Russia upon its premiere in 2014.

Marina Aleksandrova stars as Catherine the Great (Ekaterina), a German-born princess who travels to Russia as a bride for Crown Prince Peter III and then becomes Empress of Russia (spoiler alert!) after her husband becomes Emperor and is assassinated six months later. “Russia was revitalized under her reign [1762-1796], growing larger and stronger than ever and becoming recognized as one of the great powers of Europe,” notes Wikipedia.

But keep your eye on another actress, Yuliya Aug, who plays Elizabeth of Russia, who was Empress prior to Peter’s ascension. She won Russia’s equivalent of an Emmy (the Tefi) as best actress, with the series itself taking honors as best TV series/movie.

Amazon and Ekaterina’s US distributor XiveTV say 10 one-hour episodes are available in season one. We’re not sure if that means more episodes are coming, since IMDb says the series ran two seasons for 24 total episodes while Wikipedia counts 11 episodes.

In any case, don’t confuse Ekaterina with another Russian series on the same subject, Velikaya, which premiered a year later. We’re not sure how well this one did in the ratings, but the YouTube trailer has topped 590,000 views:

Over the years, Catherine the Great has been portrayed numerous times on film. IMDb lists all of them all through 2013, and we’ve found two for you to enjoy right here, plus a bonus trailer:

The 1934 British film, ‘The Rise of Catherine the Great,’ starring Elizabeth Bergner as Catherine and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. as Peter III

Catherine plays Catherine in the 1996 A&E movie ‘Catherine the Great,’ starring Catherine Zeta-Jones

Trailer for the 1991 TNT movie ‘Young Catherine,’ introducing Julia Ormond as Catherine and starring Vanessa Redgrave as Elizabeth

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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