The third episode deals with the Tudor queens: Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days Queen, Mary l and Elizabeth l. The latter two despite controversies over religion were the first women to wield actual power in their own right in England.
Perhaps the best thing about the series is Helen Castor. Not only does she know what she's talking about, but she has the kind of natural screen presence that makes for effective communication with the audience. She skillfully weaves her way through the tangled historical webs of five centuries with impressive clarity. This is important because hers is the only on screen voice in the series. There is no elaborate collection of talking heads on board to support her analysis. She is the authority, and she doesn't need their support.
Of course, the one thing other faces could have provided was variety. If there is a problem with the series, it is probably the paucity of visual material. Images of the early queens and the figures surrounding them are limited, so all too often we are stuck with the same visuals. Castor is shuttled around to an assortment of ruins, cathedrals and castles and that helps. There is nothing like a gorgeous cathedral to provide a fascinating visual. On the other hand shots of her walking through modern cities and riding through the countryside are rarely interesting. There is some film footage of battles and the like culled presumably from other productions and while that does spice the stew a bit, there is no question that it is up to Castor to carry the series on her shoulders, a task she manages quite effectively.
The DVD includes a short biographical sketch of Dr. Castor and a booklet discussing the early queens and other powerful women in history, as well as a short discussion of matriarchy. Although there are supposed to be discussion questions available at athenalearning.com, I was unable to find them.