DVD Review: The Tudors.

Get ready…it’s Showtime!

The popular US cable company’s historical drama, centred in its first season around events early in the reign of that famous English monarch, King Henry VIII, has wooed many since its 2007 debut, despite the criticisms of some history aficionados. Whilst I can see how the series’ many historical inaccuracies have irritated those familiar with the period, I can also see why certain decisions were made, and on the whole feel they were justifiable in the interests of clarity and dramatic licence.

It’s a lavish, sexy production designed to appeal to contemporary audiences without dumbing everything down like <i> The Other Boleyn Girl</i>. The writing varies from adequate to good, the acting even better, the sets and costumes best of all. Clearly the makers are at pains to deliver a fresh, relevant production for the modern viewer. They want us to feel what it was like to live in the court of Henry VIII, and in doing that I agree that it’s better to have the characters speak and act in contexts we understand, if you can do that without descending into modern vulgarisms. Quasi-Shakespearean prose might sound more accurate but hardly conveys the same emotional content. It’s a fine line to tread. Bearing in mind, too, the show has to be commercially successful to survive (this ain’t a BBC production), I believe it’s struck a good balance. It’s King Henry might be shorter than the original, with closely-cropped dark hair rather than the flowing fair locks on record, but the actor, Jonathon Rhys Meyers does a fine job exploring this complex character’s volatility, his passions, temper, strengths and weaknesses. So too does the gorgeous Natalie Dormer, albeit sans Anne Boleyn’s famous dark eyes. Sam Neil does one of his better performances as the worldly Cardinal Wolsey, and the lesser characters are suitably fleshed out (being Showtime, you can take that literally for some of them) and entertaining.

About 70% of the entire season’s sex scenes are seen in the first episode. The finale aside, most of the rest could be shown in high school. And though we’re still a long way from the executions of Anne Boleyn and even Thomas Moore, there’s so much intrigue, scheming, double-dealing, wars and plagues, beddings and beheadings going on, you definitely won’t be bored.

For the pedants it’s true – Henry has one sister instead of two and she marries the King of Portugal, not the King of France. Henry Fitzroy dies early and Cardinal Wolsey does something at the end not in the history books, though in my opinion it’s a pretty reasonable assumption under the circumstances. Look up Wiki or your favourite encyclopedia if you want to check the events – you’ll find they’ve changed little that alters the spirit of the times (except the Princess Mary/Margaret amalgamation; they changed a lot there). With Henry Fitzroy, for instance, I’m sure they wanted us to feel something of what Henry must have gone through with the deaths of his previous children, particularly his only son, with Catherine of Aragon.

If I were you I’d just sit back and enjoy 10 hours of fascinating history and drama.

Posted in Opinion. Tags: , , . 16 Comments »

Check It Out

It’s bawdy, dirty and altogether quite shameless. It’s also well written, well acted and very funny. If you aren’t offended by rampant nudity and sex-talk, check out Showtime’s new series, Californication, starring David Duchovny in a role as far removed from Agent Mulder as you could possibly imagine. And yes, the chick with the big boobs is Madeline Zima, better known to most as Gracie, the youngest kid from The Nanny. And her new role is as far removed from that one as you could possibly imagine, too.

Duchovny plays gifted but irresponsible novelist Hank Moody. A good example of his social graces is seen at an environmental fundraiser. When asked what he’ll write about it, he replies: “Well, just off the top of my head, I find it interesting that all these people are ranting and raving about saving the environment when they’ll probably blow like ten thousand pounds of fuel on their private jet planes getting down to Cabo this weekend.”

Not that you’ll get lashings of such sentiment from the show. Simply enough good, old-fashioned fornication and profanity to make Sex and the City look like Melrose Place.

In truth, on the subject of its explicitness, there are similarities with Showtime’s other great series, Rome, where – with numerous exceptions, of course (there’s a certain menage-a-trois with an ending I certainly didn’t see coming*) – most of the ‘shock’ content is confined to the pilot episode. And the show’s title, by the by, refers more to the effect California exerts on the main character than it does to…you know, thingy.

 *pun intended, but you’ll have to watch that episode, The Devil’s Threesome, to know what I mean.

On The Revisionist History Channel Tonight…

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tonight I have the esteemed honour of being able to watch what will surely be the TV highlight of the year. The History Channel presents:

The True Story of Che Guevara

Life of a Rebel: A righteous Robin Hood to some, a war-mongering menace to others, his quest to expand revolution across the globe would have Armies vying to crush him, and thrust him into a life cloaked in danger, mystery and intrigue.

What’s the bet that there’s very little “true” about this documentary?

I should mention that this is also the channel which displays shows like “Loose Change”.

UPDATE: “Ernesto became a revolutionary because he was a terrible dancer.” Based on that, I’m destined to become a revolutionary too! Or Guevara can’t take a little bit of criticism… I know what I’m thinking.

UPDATE II: “Che always rushed to the front lines in battles, to protect his ideals.” Unlike his Left friends, who merrily let good men die so they can then go on to criticise the Fallen.

Posted in History. Tags: , . 4 Comments »

Super Burning Hot Pants!

For those 6 to 8 year old males who are rich enough to watch morning TV in Venezuela.

Posted in Funny, Venezuela. Tags: , . 2 Comments »

And to think, I have to teach these kids

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