The Tudors returns on Showtime tonight for its final season. Along with Rome on HBO, The Tudors has been one two superb historical dramas (one ancient, the other Renaissance) that have graced and animated our new golden age of television. I've seen the first five episodes of this new Tudors, and they're fine indeed.
Henry VIII - the Tudor who this series has most been about - is now married to Katherine Howard, his youngest wife. She will suffer the same fate as Anne Boleyn. Katherine's story isn't as compelling - she and Henry are in no sense star-crossed lovers. But their story - her failure to bear Henry a child, her affair with Culpepper - was ample and provocative enough to incite Henry's frenzy and our keen interest.
Politically, it was good to see the Spanish ambassador Chapuys still on the scene - I don't like his plotting against the King, but I find the character's presence somehow reassuring - and even better to see Charles Brandon, now the King's longest continuing friend, holding strong at the Court. These two characters have played major roles in every season, and, in addition to Henry, are the mortar that hold this story of The Tudors together.
The costumes and the countryside and the unclothed women are as splendid - and tasteful - as ever. The food looks luscious. I miss the intellectual verve of Wolsey, Thomas More, and Thomas Cromwell, but history is what it is, and if these final chapters of Henry's life and reign are not as ideationally revolutionary as his earlier years, if his passions are not quite keenly as felt, this is wonderful and most welcome television nonetheless.
See also from Season 3: The Tudors, Season 3: Hard History and Sweet Flesh ... Thomas Cromwell on The Tudors: "Surely All Art Is a Lie"
from Season 2: 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
from Season 1: Episodes 1 and 2: History So Colorful You Can Taste It, Episode 3: History So Real You Can Feel It, Episode 4: The Penalty of Royalty, Episode 5: Madrigal, Musical Chairs, Episode 6: Tectonic Chess, Episode 7: Henry's Imperfect Apothecary, Episode 8: The Limits of Power, Episode 9: And Wolsey Falls in a Soaring Performance ... The Tudors Concludes First Season: A Suicide, A Burning, A Roll in the Forest
and: Derriere and Bosom on The Tudors: More of What the FCC Would Deprive Us Of
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