I can't even believe that I was so careless, thoughtless, and just plain stupid! I forgot to include one of my very favorite new TV series discoverd on DVD this summer! I may need a tutor. Or just some really really good looking Tudors.
The Tudors is a beautiful and intense series. I have read, watched and heard the story of Henry VIII and his six wives many times, but never in quite such a Hollywood way. The drama has always been there, of course. Henry VIII's temper, his passion, and his girth are qualities that will always cause great drama in his life and to the lives of those around him. However, this series has more than just drama - it's got visual, sensory and sensual appeal. There is enough chemistry here to cause more than one sexual explosion.
The story line stays pretty true to history (as I've read it, anyway - and not just in historical fiction novels. I have actually read a few NONfiction books on the subject). Some characters for side stories are invented, but the general theme and feeling of the time period are preserved. I like that. It's like watching The History Chanel, only way more fun.
Both the acting and the writing are so good that all of the characters (even the peripheral ones) show depth, conflict and strength. For example, I hate Cardinal Wolsey. He was a terrible person - he misused the kingdom's money, aspired to be Pope for all the wrong reasons, abused his power in every possible way, and in general he looked for every opportunity to advance himself without regard to how his actions affected others. He pretended to be holy, but had more than one mistress, and bastard children everywhere. Money was more important than morality, spirituality and decency. Watching The Tudors, however, I actually felt compassion for him, and though he deserved it, I felt sorry for him when he lost everything in the end.
Conversely, I have always liked Anne. I felt that she was always a bit misunderstood, and I never faulted her ambition nor her fight to get what she wanted. Plus, she gave birth to Elizabeth I, so she can't have been all bad. But watching her now, I'm willing to rethink my position on that bitch.
My point is, that this mere tv show has caused me to go back and rethink my carefully formed opinions on historical characters. Usually historical dramas play into the popular opinions and exploit and play out generally accepted attitudes towards the involved characters (including the series Rome, but who cares? That show rocked!) But The Tudors doesn't hesitate to break some of those bad cinematic/theatrical habits.
As if that wasn't enough of a reason to get into the show - at least intellecutally, there are the physical and sensory reasons. First, everyone in the show is beautiful. Henry VIII is a perfect specimen. I love the scene where he gets up in the middle of the night (wearing almost nothing) and starts to run in place and do push ups because he heard that physical activity can keep the plague away. Anne has the most perfect body - she has the perfect breasts for those dresses.
Second, The sex scenes are so real and full of chemistry that they are almost embarrassing. It's different than watching porn - it's like watching real people who don't know that they are being taped. (Not that I'm sure exactly what it's like to watch real people have sex, but that's what I imagine it to be like - not that I imagine it all the time...Oh bother. No way out of this one. Don't judge me.) Let me just say that it's the perfect show to watch while separated from your spouse for the summer.
Finally, the visual aspects are fantastic. England has never been so green and lush (and sunny). The parties are full of color and flash. The Cardinal's robes are brighter and redder than an actual cardinal's feathers. While watching, you can practically feel the spray of the ocean and smell the grass growing.
Season Two is currently playing on Showtime, but it isn't out on DVD yet - and there's no indication it will be out very soon. AND, I don't get Showtime. When season one was over, I felt a bit like Henry VIII - like that thing I want really bad is right in front of me, but it is completely out of reach. I feel teased. Why can't I have everything I want?
P.S. I finished On Beauty, but I have to do some research before I write about it, so stay tuned.... Northanger Abbey is next.