The Tudors: Showtime
“In essence, the humors of the body were substitutes for actual feeling. Certainly, "The Tudors," which begins its second season tonight (Showtime, 9), is dense viewing — there’s a great deal of talking, in florid language, and carefully executed production and costume design. But for all its finery, "The Tudors" is strangely blank. In the literal sense, it is an easy show to get lost in.”
“Joan Bergin’s costumes are breathtaking, Ousama Rawi’s cinematography is gorgeous, and Trevor Morris’ sweeping score is truly fit for a king. But beneath its glittery surface, “The Tudors” is all pomp and little circumstance. It looks like a show that matters, but it doesn’t feel like one.”
“The solid acting (veteran Peter O’ Toole is also notable in a small role as Pope Paul III) helps to make up for some of the starchy dialogue and paucity of character development in "The Tudors." All the overheated carnal gymnastics don’t hurt either — if you’re into that sort of thing.”
“The main problem with this historical epic is that the performances of Rhys Meyers and of Natalie Dormer, who plays the king’s controversial consort, Anne Boleyn, are flat, predictable and uninspired. The clunky dialogue doesn’t do them any favors either; some of it was so "Monty Python"-esque that I nearly laughed out loud.”
“The Tudors” has always struggled to calibrate a tone, both aural and visual, that might feel true to its period without seeming absurdly anachronistic. The show lets modernity blaze through in the form of implausibly well-groomed faces; Henry shifts from regal formal locutions to outbursts that make him seem like the ornery head of a construction company, and the effect is disorienting, as if you’re seeing someone at a memorial service in clothing exclamatory or garish.”
“If Season 1 sometimes veered from considered drama to guilty pleasure, Hirst, Rhys Meyers and the rest of the cast (and Bergin’s costumes) make it all somehow meatier but no less entertaining in Season 2. It’s as if the series matured along with the characters and capitalized on the chaotic, eventful period between Anne Boleyn’s most fervent wish and the tragedy of what happens when it comes true.”
“It’s a familiar story, of course, and I’m not sure it gains much by being told with more graphic sex and violence than has been the custom. That, however, is the age in which we live — and a certain amount of lascivious behavior is to be expected from premium cable, which uses it as a draw. If any king would have understood, it was probably Henry.”
“The acting, led by Rhys Meyers, is solid. The costumes and production are good and the dialogue smooth, though one wonders if clergy in the 16th century really used the word "newfangled."
“Mixing equal parts court intrigue with Calvin Klein ad, the series falls short of greatness, proving most valuable for the expanded window it offers into an always-fascinating period. On those terms, this Showtime drama delivers just enough bodice-ripping amusement, but "A Man for All Seasons" or "Anne of the Thousand Days" it’s surely not.”
A preview clip from season two of The Tudors is below, courtesy of Showtime.