TV Meme ~ Day 3

Day 3 – Your favorite new show (aired this t.v season).

The Tudors.
A dramatic series about the reign and marriages of King Henry VIII.
Official Show Website
Brief Historical Overview

I know that The Tudors isn’t really a new show, but I haven’t gotten into any new ones this season. That being said, The Tudors is the most recent show of which I became a fan, so it seems to fit the bill.

I’d heard about the show since it had first started, but I had been more about BBC’s Robin Hood at the time (but that’s another story). When we got DirecTV last year, our package included Showtime, and so I decided to check out The Tudors, which was, literally, just starting the third season, which opens with Henry’s marriage to his third wife, Jane Seymour. It was a curious place to start watching, since the most famous part of Henry’s life is his audacious split from the Catholic Church, his divorce Catherine of Aragon, his re-marriage to Anne Boleyn and his swift execution of Anne when she failed to give Henry the son he longed for. That story has been done to death (no pun intended) almost as much as the story of Anne and Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth I. But the first episode of season 3 really sucked me in with the production value and the almost instantaneous connection to the characters. I didn’t really know what happened after Anne was executed, other than Henry married and killed off several more wives, not the details of that period of history. So I was fascinated to watch and learn how much went on, how much intrigue and deception and religious upheaval still went on and for so long. Further still, the show impresses me because it manages to convey the weight of how much was going on in that part of history. It makes the various films on the subject pale in comparison to the show.

While I was working at SOCAPA last summer, I bought Season 1 for fairly cheap and watched it within a few days. I was in withdrawal when the season ended. When I returned home in the fall, Season 2 started over on Showtime and I managed to catch up. Likewise, they handled the story and character of Anne Boleyn very well. I particularly liked the episodes that led up to her death, because it was not what I expected. They really drove home the tragedy of the whole situation, despite everything else that she and her family had done.

And that is what, I think, makes the show so great. It does what historical dramas are supposed to: breathe life into these historical figureheads, these people and events that are, otherwise, no more than names and dates in a textbook, brushstrokes on a painting’s canvas. They take your expectations, your pre-conceived ideas about what happened, who these people were, and throw them out the window. You’re rooting for a certain character one second, and a few episodes later, you’ve completely switched sides, and you’re not even sure how or when it happened. Yet, it also fulfills your expectations at the same time, because they’re staying relatively true to history (which, in and of itself is rare), so you know what happens ahead of time. It’s the way they convey it that is so brilliant.

I am devastated that this, the current season, is the last. Not so much in that I wish they would drag it out more; Henry is getting old, they can’t really do that, but they’ve really established his oldest daughter, Mary Tudor (a.k.a. Bloody Mary), as a powerful, intriguing, sympathetic character. I really was hoping that they would continue the story; do a spin-off show about her, then Elizabeth and Edward and Mary, Queen of Scots, who they’ve mentioned in these last few episodes. But no. Showtime’s next show will take place in Italy and will focus on the family that was the inspiration for “The Godfather,” which is fine, but I had been really hoping for more of the English history, since they have done it SO well!

A bartender I work with also watches the show and told me that her theory is that they are planning another show about the English Monarchy, just not right now. And they’d be stupid not to; The Tudors has worked wonders for their ratings.

She also said that she was disappointed that their new show is such a dud – Italy? The Mob? Sorry, but been there, done that. Granted, it’s similar to the way most people thought of Tudor England before the show, but in this case, there is, in fact, The Godfather to compare it to, and it’s a classic. The Tudors really was unprecedented in my opinion. Jen, the bartender, said that she thought the Russian Royalty could have been a better choice; perhaps the history leading up to the Romanovs. But nope. Italy.

Whatever.

Watch The Tudors. It’s excellent.

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