Jonathan Rhys Meyers returns as the bad boy of history in this most exquisite series. Worth every minute of His Majesty's pleasure.
You’d be hard pressed to go wrong with the subject of Henry VIII, screenwriter Michael Hirst (Elizabeth) and Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Velvet Goldmine). With a pedigree like this, you’ve already got a wealth of class.
The second season of this lavish period tale launches tonight on the Showcase Channel. As anyone who has seen the first series knows, this is quite a treat. Visually stunning, the first series won an Emmy for Best Costume. The production design is equally sumptuous. But it is the tone of the piece that is its triumph. Veering away from stuffy concepts of Henry as little more than a plump man on the end of a chicken drumstick, Henry is played as a sexy, virile and tempestuous ruler, with a roving eye and powerful ambitions.
In the second series Henry is head of his own Church of England and defies the Pope (Peter O’Toole) in his quest to divorce Queen Katherine and marry Anne Boleyn. The fiery Anne even protests that Katherine of Aragon still sews Henry’s shirts, until he banishes Katherine from his castle, paving the way for Anne to become his new Queen. But there are conspiratorial movements behind his back that attempt to undermine his reign.
Themes of fidelity, power, and vanity prevail in The Tudors. Like a super-soap of its era, it is brimming with fertile storytelling devices. Knowing it was all true is all the more entertaining. How accurate this is, is anybody’s guess. Somehow I doubt Henry VIII looked as sexy as Jonathan Rhys Meyers (the series is known for getting him shirtless with regularity). In the central role he is rather magnificent. A bad boy of the royal court, played with delicious zest.
Filmed in Ireland, The Tudors benefits from resisting the urge to CGI. Instead it depicts scenes with more authenticity as well as turning a big screen TV in a moving library of lush locations.
There are ten episodes in this most exquisite series. Worth every minute of His Majesty’s pleasure.
The Tudors premieres 8:30pm Wednesday on Showcase.