Felipe V has been the king who has most resembled the character that Robert Louis imagined in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: sometimes he believed himself a prince and other times a frog. Literal. Because the first of the Bourbon monarchs in the history of Spain was a maniac-depressive who showed two faces. One of them reflected a brave and even reckless king – he did not hesitate to lead his armies in the most risky and dangerous battles – and another showed an insane man who tried to ride the horses on the palace tapestries or who asked God’s forgiveness during hours for sleeping with his wife. And in the reign of this orate the surprising Atresmedia series La cocinera de Castamar is set (the first of its 12 50-minute episodes premieres on Sunday on Atresplayer Premium). Surprising because the setting of the time is perfect, because the chosen places are the right ones, because the rhythm of the scenes leaves you glued to the plasma, even if you only see the protagonists tasting the protagonist’s tasty dishes, and because the script is shown consistent.
The series, based on a novel by the same name by Fernando J. Múñez, tells a love story between an agoraphobic cook (Michelle Jenner) and a nobleman (Roberto Enríquez) trapped in the obsessive memory of his wife’s death. And all this surrounded by an exceptional recreation of the richest and most powerful environments of the kingdom of the frog-king, in front of the humble spaces of the most miserable classes, who try to cling to the kitchens, stables, gardens, farms or latrines of the rich palaces to receive the part of the crumbs that they throw at them. “Doña Úrsula, for charity. By God, what is going to become of me! ”, Begs the first cook of the Duke of Castañar after being fired by the housekeeper when he discovered her in a loving position with a servant. « Shameless, fresh, thief, » replies who knows that it sends her into absolute misery.
Montserrat García, Director of Fiction at Atresmedia Televisión, acknowledges that historical advice has been essential in the production of the series. “Someone may think that we have recreated Paris, well no, it is Madrid. Madrid was like that ”. García affirms that the filming has been « an exercise in style », in which the details have been taken care of to the maximum, « even the black nails of those who worked in the corrals ».
And to tell these cross stories ―the impossible couple between the saddened count and the humble cook flies over the series, but allows other stories to unfold at the same time―, the producers take advantage of jewels of the Spanish heritage of the eighteenth century such as the palace of Infante don Luis, the monastery of San Bartolomé de Lupiana, the palaces of Fernán Núñez and Linares, the monastery of Uclés or the palace of Riofrío. “Everything was shot with the utmost care in some of our buildings and gardens. Environmental reports were even requested to open a ditch in the forests of Riofrío [Segovia] in order for the actress to fall from the horse with the least possible damage ”, explains José Vicente Pérez, Director of Communication for National Heritage.
If something can be blamed on the first chapter of the series, it is that it takes time to locate it temporarily. It is easy to doubt whether it is set in the reign of Felipe V or that of Fernando VI, since the king’s name is never pronounced and the monarch is shown in the first minutes of the footage as a coherent character involved in state affairs. . Perhaps the wig, which begins to tilt, is a first clue to the personality of the king who stopped grooming in the last years of his life and who had to be embalmed because they could not separate his clothes from his skin.
One of the final scenes of the first chapter already shows Felipe V crouching next to a pond. Squatting, legs apart, ready to jump into the water, and to a desperate queen because she can’t find him in the dark. « The king is lost! » Shouts the messenger accompanying the royal carriage as they enter the palace to which the madman was heading.
Now it is only necessary to know, not if the king will reappear later in his human form, but if the series will maintain the princely level of its first chapter and will not become a batrachian in the following. Surely Fiorella Faltoyano – majestic in her role as Doña Mercedes – will not allow it.