Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review: The Tudors

I mentioned in a prior post about my maybe watching the Showtime series The Tudors. This was mostly due to the portrayals (linked there) of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More being martyred. Honestly, I never would have thought such a reverential presentation possible from any secular media outlet.

So I watched them and thought they would make a good follow-up to my Thor review as they make for a good demonstration of a basic principle. Stories don't have to feature pornography to be good. Consider Thor. Here was a movie about a being worshipped as a god by a race of violent, barbaric people who are historically famous for murder, rape, etc. However, the movie was able to tell a story about him without any graphic portrayal or even mention of these things, even though it's pretty easy to see how a director could have worked them in there if he had wanted. It was a good movie.

On a side note, that's it's a comic book movie has nothing to do with it. Studios are releasing tons of direct to video CARTOONS now that feature things like Green Lantern shooting a guy in the face and having the gore splatter all over him, Wonder Woman overseeing the slaughter of an army that had raped a village of women, and Tony Stark naked in a hot tub with a woman. People don't care about whether a kid or parent might accidentally pick this stuff up.

The Tudors is a series about an immoral monarch, famous for his many wives and mistresses. In contrast to Thor, almost every episode of the series features a scene of softcore (I guess) pornographic sex. I'm not sure why. It is the very definition of "gratuitous." It ruins a lot of otherwise quality stuff.

It's a fairly accurate presentation of events, I think. It would have been better if Rhys-Meyers had been in a fat suit, but that would probably have reduced the glamour of his being king and made it hard for people to accept how this guy was able to have sex with so many women. Just being king wouldn't have been enough for a lot of folks.

The startling thing was always how pro-Catholic it all was. It even had a whole season dedicated to the Pilgrimage of Grace. How many people even knew what that was until this show came out?

Thomas Cromwell was shown as the a-hole that he was. The dissolution of the monasteries was basically theft. Catherine was a saint who, along with Mary, was cruelly abused. Anne Boleyn was a whore. How many public school history classes do you think actually make these points?

As fantastic (sans porn) the first seasons were, things kind of fell apart in the last season. Most semblance of plot was abandoned in order to just show various aspects of Henry's mental and physical deterioration. They went on a bizarre tangent to show the Anglicans resisting further Protestant doctrinal encroachment, but you couldn't figure out if they were Catholic or just not Lutheran/Calvinist. Lots of people died, but most of them were given such short shrift that you didn't have time to care.

Naturally, there was some homage to Elizabeth. Somebody should do a movie or TV show about her reign that isn't the Cate Blanchett hagiography.

Overall, it really was a good show up till that final season. If you can get past the porn stuff, it's worth watching and can probably be of some value in instructing Catholics on how England got to be the way it is. Following up with Robert Hugh Benson's Come Rack! Come Rope! would be a good thing.

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