Movie Reviews

DVD Review: “The Tudors (The Complete First Season)”

(Showtime. 2007. 9 hours, 16 minutes. 4 Discs. Not Rated. Widescreen. Created by Michael Hirst.) Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Henry VIII), Sam Neill (Cardinal Wolsey), Callum Blue (Anthony Knivert), Henry Cavill (Charles Brandon), Henry Czerny (Duke of Norfolk), Natalie Dormer (Anne Boleyn), Maria Doyle Kennedy (Queen Catherine of Aragon), Nick Dunning (Thomas Boleyn), Jeremy Northam (Sir Thomas More), Gabrielle Anwar (Princess Margaret). Music by Trevor Morris. Available now.

It’s not your great-grandfather’s Henry VIII…Charles Laughton’s probably spinning in his grave, but The Tudors is a lusty entertainment in the now-established Showtime tradition that will keep you watching…just don’t look for historical accuracy. In this first season, we pick things up as Henry, young, arrogant, and passionate, is married to Catherine of Aragon and with one legitimate child, Margaret. He sleeps with whomever female he wishes, no matter whose wife or daughter she might be…while not hiding his longing for a legitimate male heir. Politically he struggles with his alliances with Spain and France, as he wishes to have more influence in European affairs, and is willing to go to war to accomplish this. His right-hand man, Wolsey, has ambitions of his own…including the papacy. That’s endangered when Henry falls for Anne Boleyn and forces Wolsey to intervene with the Catholic Church on his behalf to force an annulment of his marriage to Catherine. There’s plenty of scheming, violence, and sex, the acting is fine, and the storytelling is captivating. (The new season begins March 30.) The box set includes featurettes on the sumptuous costumes and production design, plus a look at locations in contemporary London (the series is filmed in Ireland). A not-so-guilty pleasure.