The Tudors: The Complete First Season
may cover the same subject matter as the 1970 BBC seriesThe Six Wives of Henry VIII
, but in every other respect it is a different idea of historical drama. Sexy and violent,The Tudors
envisions Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) as a young man of both passion and ambition, driven by boundless sexual energy and the desire to establish a legacy early in his monarchy. When he isn't sleeping with any available beauty--heedless of whose daughter or wife a lover might be--he's getting fired up about going to war with France. He is amenable, however, to alternative ideas, including the counsel of his Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey (Sam Neill), who wants his king to sign a treaty of universal peace with all of Europe. Henry's fiery temperament endangers such a move, but Wolsey persists in hopes of gaining France's support for his own, possible ascendance to the papacy. His ambitions are not to be, however, and his fortunes go downhill as Henry's desire to wed Ann Boleyn (Natalie Dormer) puts Wolsey in the position of petitioning Rome for a hearing on the legitimacy of Henry's marriage to Queen Katherine.
Henry's shrewd alliance with the king of Spain is also testament to his desire to have more influence over European affairs. But his even greater desire for another woman proves an obstacle there, too. Over the course of the ten episodes on The Complete First Season, Henry's confidence grows as a monarch while his ...