Friday, March 13, 2009

The Tudors Season 3: Hard History and Sweet Flesh

The Tudors returns for its third season on Showtime early next month. I've seen the first two episodes - thanks to a preview copy from Showtime - and the series looks to be as wonderful as ever, just the mix of hard history and sweet flesh we've come to expect from this drama about one of the most important eras in our past, a time when our British ancestors clawed and fought and loved their way into the modern age.

What's most new about this season is Jane Seymour, now Queen, and now played by Annabelle Wallis (Jane was played last year by Anita Briem). I like Annabelle's performance much more than Anita's, whose Jane was bland. Annabelle has a soft, engaging power, and reminds me, in terms of accent and looks, of Princess Diana.

There are other powerful performances. James Frain returns with a superb rendition of Thomas Cromwell, Alan Van Sprang is new in the court as the feisty, piratical Sir Francis Bryan, and Max Von Sydow and his expressive face is in Rome as Cardinal von Waldberg. Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII and Henry Cavill as Charles Brandon are as good as they've been, too - which is to say, quite good.

And there are some fine ladies in court. Look for Charlotte Salt as Lady Ursula Misseldon, and an outstanding nude scene, which made me glad that the FCC has not yet expanded its repressive rule to cable.

Censorship and the struggle for democracy is also very much in the air on The Tudors, where rebellion and religious intolerance serve as midwives to our ways of life. I'll be back with more after the season gets under way in April.

5-min podcast sneak-preview review of The Tudors

See also ...

Tooling Up for The Tudors and The Tudors: Transformations and Assassins ... John Adams Concludes, The Tudors Continues, The First Amendment Abides ... The Tudors and the Printing Press ... The Tudors Concludes and America Begins ... and links there to reviews of episodes from Season One.

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