In 1990, my wife was cast as a member of the chorus in a musical retelling of the life of Henry VIII entitled A MASQUE FOR HENRY (it was written and produced by the actor who played the principal of a middle school on a popular 80's sitcom . . . not BOY MEETS WORLD, but one very similar). I had already taken a course in Tudor and Stuart England taught by the finest instructor I ever had, Dr. Robin Rudoff, and between the highly entertaining play and Dr. Rudoff's brilliant lectures, I became completely captivated by the life of this sixteenth century monarch. I have read every biography I could get my hands on and several historical novels as well. So when THE TUDORS first came out I was prepared to love it.
Inittially, I was offput by how little John Rhys-Myers resembled Henry VIII. But the remarkable screenwriting, brilliant acting, and excellent casting won me over, and by the end of season 1, I was hooked. Two weeks ago, Season 4 came out on video, and I watched the series finale tonight.
BRILLIANT. There is not another word. To see the lusty and powerful King slowly reduced to a feeble invalid, haunted by the ghosts that he himself created, was at once touching and satisfying. Tamzin Merchant projected just the right aura of innocence and sensuality as the ill-fated child queen Katherine Howard (although I'll admit her nude scenes made me a bit uncomfortable as she looks to be about 13!), and one of my favorite actresses and longtime celebrity crushes, Joely Richardson, was perfectly cast as Henry's final bride, the devout widow Katherine Parr.
If you love history at all, if rich drama appeals to you, and low cut sixteenth century dresses that don't always stay on sound appealing, I would urge anyone who has not seen this series to rent Season 1 and treat yourself to about 40 episodes of English Renaissance awesomeness!