Created and written by novelist Daisy Goodwin in an impressive screenwriting debut, “Victoria” gradually gains steam after its somewhat slow two-hour premiere, as its title character lurches from one challenge to the next. It’s all impeccably mounted, if a tad familiar in its focus on manners and palace intrigue — very much in keeping with the Masterpiece formula.
Of course, “Downton” unfairly altered expectations for such fare, both in its level of soapy appeal and its gaudy ratings. As the aforementioned “The Crown” makes clear, PBS also no longer has a monopoly on British drama, which now reaches the U.S. via a wide variety of sources.
As a consequence “Victoria” looks appropriately and enjoyably regal but only fitfully feels stirring enough to expand on the genre’s loyal core. Take that as a sign that in the Masterpiece business, the crown has gotten that much heavier.
“Victoria” premieres January 15 at 9 p.m. on PBS.