Tuesday, April 10, 2007

THE TUDORS Episode 2 (Review)

I think it’s the pacing of The Tudors that doesn’t quite work for me.
It’s fast-paced, yes. Not like an action-thriller though, but rather, in a “let’s get this subplot out of the way quick so we can get to the next one” sort of way.

The first act of the second episode is basically a pissing contest between Henry and the King of France, Francis I (Emmanuel Leconte) at a summit where they’re supposed to be signing a Universal Peace Treaty, the brainchild of Wolsey to keep both countries out of a costly war, and to get him the Papacy.
All the French boasting though gets on Henry’s tits and the two monarchs wind up in a wrestling match, which Henry loses. He’s enraged, but his advisers talk sense to him, and he ends up signing the treaty, but the whole deal rankles.

Meanwhile, Henry takes Mary Boleyn (Perdita Weeks) as a mistress, a by-product of his alpha male posturing with the French king (who calls Mary his “English mare,” as he rides her so very, very often), but soon tires of her, consumed as he still is by his losing face to Francis.
So he has Wolsey make some maneuvers so they can break that treaty, maneuvers which cost Wolsey the Papacy.

Oh, by the way, the would-be usurper to the throne, Buckingham, gets beheaded.
And that’s the subplot that felt like it was suddenly just cut off, much like Buckingham’s head.
It was bad enough that Brandon’s affair with Buckingham’s daughter apparently went nowhere, as there is no sign nor even mention of it in this episode, but her father is suddenly arrested and executed, just like that.
I honestly don’t know if, historically, this is how quickly that played out, but in the context of the show, it just felt really truncated.

And even as Buckingham loses his head, Lady Blount (Ruta Gedmintas), ex-handmaiden of Catherine, impregnated last episode by Henry, gives birth to Henry’s first son, the infant who will ultimately be recognized by the King (the only illegitimate offspring that will ever enjoy this kind of acknowledgement), and dubbed Henry FitzRoy, Earl of Nottingham and Duke of Richmond and Somerset.*

All this and papa Boleyn (Nick Dunning), wanting at least one of his daughters to have the king’s favour, dispatches Anne to replace her sister Mary in the king’s bed. (That’s good parenting, that is!)
So, all that trouble, all because of a father’s hunger for power and influence.

At this point, I should report that it looks like this is it for me and The Tudors.
It just isn’t riveting enough for me to make the time to watch the remaining eight episodes. As I said, I think it’s the pacing, and maybe Tudors writer Michael Hirst and I just don’t mix.
Who knows? Maybe Hirst’s upcoming The Golden Age will serve to change my mind about him. In the meantime though, Henry and his TV escapades shall have to go unwitnessed by this humble servant.

* The very same Henry Fitzroy who’s a vampire graphic novel artist in Blood Ties! It’s too bad Blood Ties isn’t even watchable, as that would have been an interesting double bill for this summer season. (Blood Ties reviewed here; Archive: March 2007.)

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