He’s the rock and roll king, the velvet goldmine ruler, the sex god monarch.
Showtime’s Henry VIII, as gloriously personified by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, is back for his third lascivious season in The Tudors.
Once again all the hallmarks of this franchise are lavishly evident on the screen: stunning costumes, elaborate settings, sumptuous locations, passionate performances and sexed-up storytelling. If medieval England was to have its very own Days of Our Lives, this would be it (one character even sports an eyepatch). Power, greed, lust, envy, romance -it’s all here in spades.
Having eliminating his second wife, Henry now turns his attention to his third, Jane Seymour (Annabelle Wallis), determined that she bear him a male heir. At the same time he advances Protestant Reformation throughout the kingdom, attacking Catholic monasteries and churches.
But there is wide dissent, with commoners staging a revolt in response to his crackdown. In echoes of Braveheart, thousands arm themselves in readiness for a sweeping uprising.
Thomas Cromwell (James Frain) endeavours to guide Henry as his steady advisor, but his short-tempered King demonstrates little time for reason.
Against these power games there are also chess-like manoeuvers from writer Michael Hirst.
Henry also compels his daughter Mary (Sarah Bolger) to swear allegiance, fearful she may one day become Queen of England. In Rome Cardinal von Waldburg (Max Von Sydow) urges Henry’s cousin to return to England to extend the Pope’s influence over the new Queen.
There are some roles that define actors and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is clearly in his element as Henry, portraying him as an outrageous and uncompromising ruler. He shifts from breathing fire to sexual panther, with consummate ease.
He is supported by an outstanding ensemble, impeccable production values and a lush score.
This season singer Joss Stone will also appear in her first acting role as Anne of Cleves.
The Tudors is a televisual seven deadly sins. A jewel in pay television’s crown.
The Tudors returns 8:30pm Wenesday on Showcase.