Friday, March 28, 2008

Tooling Up for the Return of The Tudors - with Peter O'Toole!

I saw the first episode of The Tudors, Season 2, on Showtime On Demand ... Not to worry, this is history, after all, so it's not easy to give much away, and I promise to be mum about anything embellished, in this or any review I may post before the episode's full-bodied airing...

And The Tudors is as delightfully full-bodied this season as last, when I referred to the series as "history so real you can taste it".

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII and Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn are as sensual as last year, and, who cares if this Henry's a rail like Abe Lincoln and not hefty like the real Henry. Rhys Meyers' performance still carries the requisite weight.

But the actor who makes everyone else on this show a lightweight - the actor whose gravitas, in fact, has pulled every performance around him like puppets on a string, planets in the solar system, from the first we ever saw him in Lawrence of Arabia - plays Henry's adversary in the Protestant Reformation in this second season of The Tudors.

Peter O'Toole as Pope Paul III had just one scene in the season opener, but his words and delivery balanced all the power and passion we saw in court back in England. The Pope wonders why someone doesn't get rid of the "putant" - the whore - Anne Boleyn. Popes apparently didn't mince words in those days, and when spoken by Peter O'Toole they are all but irresistible daggers.

With Martin Luther's suggestion that people should read the Bible for themselves given life and currency by the bibles that poured from the newly invented printing press, the Church was at a fork in the road.

At this point in the story, all Henry really wants is the Pope's blessing to marry divorce Katherine and marry Anne. He'll settle for even just permission. Henry had earlier expressed sharp disagreement with Luther - had written a tract against Luther, as we saw in Season 1. But people in England, including some of Henry's closest advisers, are seeing merit in breaking away from the Church....

This setting of this momentous stage of history will appear on Showtime this Sunday evening.

See also ...

see also The Tudors: Transformations and Assassins and The Tudors Continues, The First Amendment Abides ... The Tudors and the Printing Press ...The Tudors Concludes and America Begins ...

and my reviews of all of last season's episodes, beginning here ...

and more on the printing press and the Protestant Reformation in my book, The Soft Edge ...

and historical science fiction about another era ...



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