The Complete First Season
Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Sam Neill, Jeremy Northam
Paramount Home Video
Available Jan. 1, 2008
This 10-episode dramatic series takes a look at the early reign of a young Henry VIII, the 16th century Tudor King of England. Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as King Henry, who plans to declare war on the French after they murder his uncle. The self-serving conniving Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (Sam Neill), who has a mistress and dreams of grandeur, believes that instead of waging war, Henry should propose a peace treaty the King of France. Henry’s friend and trusted advisor Sir Thomas More (Jeremy Northam), author of Utopia, agrees with the peace treaty proposition, which convinces Henry to enact that plan.
Aside from the political aspect of King Henry’s early reign, Season 1 of The Tudors chronicles Henry’s now-famed tumultuous love life. At the opening of the show, the King is married to Catherine of Aragon (Maria Doyle Kennedy), who has been unable to produce a much-need male offspring. Disgusted with Catherine, Henry eventually involves the Catholic Church, who had papal authority in England at the time, in a very difficult effort to dissolve his marriage.
While awaiting a possible annulment, Henry seeks pleasure elsewhere. Being the King provides him with a bounty of choices for mistresses, his favorite being the young and beautiful Lady Elizabeth Blount (Ruta Gedmintas). But Henry quickly tires of his concubines, and since in the Tudor world women are commodities, the ambitious Thomas Boleyn (Nick Dunning) is more then happy to offer his daughters over to Henry. It is up to Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer) to seduce and sink her claws into the King to elevate the status of the Boleyn family.
Meanwhile, the Duke of Buckingham (Steven Waddington), who believes himself to be the rightful heir to England’s throne, demands the punishment and banishment of Charles Brandon (Henry Cavill) upon the discovery of Brandon disgracing his daughter. Being that Brandon is a good friend of the King, Henry makes a mighty foe out of the Duke after he refuses the Duke’s demands. After harsh words between the two, the Duke plots the death of King Henry VIII.
The 4-disc DVD is over nine hours and comes with several bonus features.
Pertaining to The Tudors, there’s a behind-the-scenes look at the set design and show’s location, filmed in the scenic land of the emerald isle Ireland; costume designer Joan Bergin’s take on the clothing of the Tudors; and a journey to historical sites such as The Town of Greenwich, The Tower of London, Crosby Hall, Apothecaries Hall and Hampton Court Palace, to learn a bit of history.
There’s also a section to read up on the biographies of the actors themselves: What Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Sam Neil have done previously, and where have you seen Maria Doyle Kennedy and Natalie Dormer in before?
Also included in this set (on the fourth disc) are free episodes of other Showtime series This American Life, Penn & Teller Bullshit, and Californication, plus downloads via N Technology of the first two episodes of Dexter Season 2. Lastly, there’s a way to enter to win a trip to Ireland.
Although The Tudors is not entirely historically accurate (but pretty close), I highly enjoyed this take on the Tudor age and the life of a young King Henry VIII. I found the sets and scenery breathtaking, and the clothing a beautiful and refreshing mixture of modern and classic all while holding true to the beauty of the clothing in the Tudor period. The cast was well placed and enjoyable to watch. I am pleased that I was given the chance to review this series and look forward to the second season of The Tudors, which premieres on Showtime on March 30, 2008.