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THE TUDORS: EPISODE THREE – SEASON ONE

In Episode Three, the intentions of every major character are made more apparent.  George Boleyn, now former Ambassador to France, intends to reap a fortune by pimping off his daughter, Anne, to King Henry.  A relative of his who was an ally of the late Duke of Buckingham and his attempts to usurp the throne, wants Anne to get close to the King in order to side track him while a plot of theirs unfolds.  Anne intends to follow her father’s instructions to seduce the King, so she coldly breaks off her affair with a married man who appears to be completely enamored by her.  Imagine a man reading a love poem to the object of his affections, who then criticizes the heart felt words and walks off but not before ordering him to never speak to her or ask for her again.  I love Anne Boleyn already!

The sanctimonious Cardinal Thomas Wolsey  is still aggressively pursuing the Papacy by any means necessary.  Revealed in this episode are his ill intentions toward King Henry who hangs on almost every word he says.  I was not surprised to find out that he is being employed by the King of France as a spy.  As much as I am not fond of King Henry and his affairs, this would be one beheading that I wouldn’t cringe at if they showed it.  I just do not take kind to religious figures who are pious on the outside and calculatingly wicked on the inside. 

Queen Catherine of Aragon simply wants the love of her husband.  She continues to beg the Virgin Mary for a son, even if it means walking barefoot in the rain to get to her sanctuary.  Queen Catherine is a devout and loyal wife who only wants to gain the favor of the King who wants desperately to have a son.  He even blames her for not having one, not knowing as we do today that the gender of a child is determined by the male.  As I continue to watch The Tudors I am more and more thankful to be born in this time period as opposed to medieval times.  To the Queens dismay, one of her ladies in waiting whom she confided in, Lady Elizabeth Blount, gives birth to King Henry’s first son.  Elated, he decides to recognize the illegitimate child and holds a gala event in honor of him.  The measure of the Queen’s regal stature and dignity is dramatically increased in my eyes as she walks into the celebration and politely congratulates the King in front of everyone.  I could not have been so well-mannered, then again, I am determining this by today’s standards.

On the King’s Agenda:  To amass enough wealth as possible to pummel France to the ground in war and replace King Francois by becoming the King of France.   In order to do this, he joins forces with the utterly rich 20 year old Emperor of Spain who is also the nephew of Queen Catherine.

In episode III, it seems as though the King is giving out the title of Sir like it’s going out of style.  He Knights one of his friends, Charles Brandon, played by Henry Cavill to the woe of his two other companions who demand that Henry go to the King and influence him to Knight them also.  A rift between the friends has now been created as can be seen when Henry in response, chastises them and reminds them to respect him and his newfound authority.  Thomas More and Thomas Boleyn are also knighted.  Thomas Boleyn could not ask for anything more enticing.  Thomas More, on the other hand, is initially in shock and feeling somewhat unworthy at the new title, yet of course, he ends up embracing it with a smile.

I notice that the writers are prolonging the affair between King Henry and Anne Boleyn to whet the appetite of the viewer, knowing full well that this is what we really want to see.  How did it transpire?  How was she able to hold the King’s attention for so long and so strongly that he defied the church and ended up divorcing his wife and making her Queen of England?  What kind of whiles does she possess, especially since historically, she is known to not be as outwardly  beautiful as her sister Mary?  I can’t wait to find out.  I must say that I was a bit turned off by the King’s dream sequence of him and Anne Boleyn playing cat and mouse.  At first I couldn’t tell if it was real or not.   The corny slow motion scene gave it away as being a dream.  Boleyn wore a flowing gold dress that hung in the breeze as she ran from him seductively which was an okay touch.  But I couldn’t help but want to imagine her in red, since she is the object of his red hot passion and desire.  Although what I have seen so far only hints at his attraction to her, I don’t think that the little that was covered by this episode and the last was strong enough for him to be haunted by visions of her in his sleep.  I think the dream was pushing it a bit.

 All of the chess pieces are in place so I await Episode IV.

My rating – 3 out of 4 gold pounds

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

THE TUDORS: EPISODE TWO – SEASON ONE

Kings gazing at Mary Boleyn, "The English Mare"

Episode II opens with the picturesque sprawling hills of Val’ d’Or (Valley of Gold), English occupied France.  King Henry VIII along with a small band of his heavily armed men approach the meeting point that would be the site of the signing of the” The Treaty of Universal and Perpetual Peace” between France and England.  The two Kings meet and you could see them sizing each other up.  I would say that the acting was superb because I could feel the cautious tension between the two without words being spoken.  

Anyway, the two host a celebration before the signing of the treaty.  I am sure that there were other forms of entertainment but wresting was the one highlighted.  King Francois of France basically smack talks with Henry, attributing French superiority over the English in everything including beautiful women and of course, wrestling.  King Henry could no longer bite his supercilious tongue, so he challenges the lanky but taller Francois to a fight.  In the end, King Henry is thrown to the ground in defeat and at that moment, out of shame, he wants to back out of the peace treaty.  Thomas More, an English lawyer, humanist, author and statesman who acts as the angel on King Henry’s right shoulder, talks some sense into him.  In the end, the King goes through with the signing of the Treaty the next day.  I wasn’t surprised to see King Henry, after the signing, go into a demon possessed- like violent hissy fit as he pulled down curtains, turned over chairs and tables all the while screaming his lungs out.  I have to give it to him.  I have felt like reverting to toddler fits from frustration of having to do something that I rally did not want to do but he took it to a whole new level.  Then again, he is the King.  

As the King who believes he is above all law, he continues his illicit trysts, this time with Mary, the daughter of his ambassador to France, Thomas Boleyn.  He finds great pleasure in being with Mary, especially since she has already been with King Francois who lustfully calls her his English Mare.  It seemed like King Henry saw her as a possession to steal from his nemesis.  Soon he grows tired of her, thus Ambassador Boleyn calls on his other daughter, Anne to pick up where Mary left off.  After all, having Mary with the King was profitable to the family.  Basically, Ambassador Boleyn is pimping his daughters.  Creepy.   

As I mentioned in the last blog, King Henry’s kingship was not only called into question by the Duke of Buckingham but he was also plotting his assassination.  At first I thought that the Duke was way out of line, but after seeing the King’s behavior with French King Francois and his licentious trysts, I started to root for him.  Although I was fully aware that King Henry lived for many years to grow to be the huge man that we know him to be, I was still rooting for the Duke.  Of course his attempt failed and he was sentenced to death.  It was hard for me to watch the once dignified, kingly man reduced to a sniveling baby as he rested his head on the board in front of a crowd, including his daughter, to be beheaded.  I had to keep reminding myself that it was only a movie, but then again, this really did happen in history.   

Funny enough, my brief sadness was quelled by the artistic way in which the writers of The Tudors translated this horrific moment onto screen.  At the same time, King Henry rushed his way to see his wife’s maiden whom he impregnated.  Actually he didn’t go to see her.  He wanted visual confirmation of the birth of his first son.  So there was a sequence of scenes bopping back and forth between the Duke of Buckingham losing his life while the elated King Henry, gained a son.  It was poetic! 

My rating – 4 out of 5 gold pounds 

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

THE TUDORS: EPISODE ONE – SEASON ONE

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII

My first impression of The Tudors was based on what I heard some critics and regular viewers say about it from its inception.  I heard that The Tudors was critically acclaimed but at the same time, it was riddled with too many lust filled scenes.  ‘Well, it wouldn’t be called a “Showtime” movie without such’, I thought.   I wanted to give it a try since it began when my favorite HBO mini series, Rome, just ended.  I wanted to continue on the historical drama roll but alas, I was not a subscriber of the Showtime channel, nor was I going to pay extra just to see this series.  So I resigned to justifying my lot with the notion that The Tudors was nothing but a sad attempt at walking in the footsteps of Rome.  I continued to lower the standards of The Tudors without even watching it by marking it as unbelievable, especially because of the image I’ve had of King Henry VIII as a fat unattractive man who couldn’t possibly have looked as good as actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers who plays him, even on his best day as a young man.

Anyway, as I watched the opening scene of The Tudors set at Ducal Palace in Italy, I was not surprised by the magnificent scenery and cinematography.  Also, the costuming of the French guard was superbly eye catching and historically accurate. 

I loved that the first order of business, just about 3 minutes into the show, was a murder; and not just any murder, the murder of King Henry VIII’s uncle and Ambassador to Italy by none other than the  French.  This truly gripped my attention and I must say from that point, I was hooked.  Would a war ensue as a result?  I was definitely going to stay tuned.

Then I wasn’t at all surprised to see that in 20 minutes of the show, the King already had two trysts with two other women besides his wife.  One of whom became pregnant.  The King’s frustration about not having a male heir became apparent as he complained to a priest, so I started to wonder if this child would turn out to be the son he’s always wanted or another girl whom he might end up killing.  Only after his wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon urging did he attempt to have sex with her.   But since she was in a chapel praying at that moment, he seemed more than happy to drop that notion and resign to taking one of her maidens to bed instead.  What a man!

Back to the murder – As a result, King Henry makes a swift decision to go to war with France.  When he consulted with his court after his decision, everyone agrees of course, including the Cardinal, Thomas Wolsey, played by actor Sam Neill, who later devises a fiendish plan to win the favor of the French by creating a “Treaty of Universal and Perpetual Peace” which he convinces the King to go along with instead of war.    The Cardinal plays to the need of the King to become a legend or in his words, “Immortal” through some great act and the great act would be a wonderful “humanitarian” effort to unite Europe in peace.  Really and truly, the Cardinal, knowing that the Pope was dying, was setting himself up in a cunning Chess play to win the votes of the French for the Papacy. 

The liaisons continue and the jealousy of the Duke of Buckingham, one of the members of the court, who believes he should have risen as the King of England due to his royal blood, devises a way of assassinating  King Henry.  Then we are briefly introduced to the infamous Anne Boleyn.  What a cliffhanger.  I’ll be holding my bowl of popcorn closely for episode two.

My rating – 3 gold pounds out of five

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment