Monday, June 2, 2008

The Tudors: "I Shall Rule England!"

So tonight the final episode of the second season of The Tudors was broadcast here in the US. America can lay its heavy royalist burden down. The series really is like watching a freaking Renaissance carriage wreck: As awful as it is, you just can't turn away. The writing is dreadful. The acting as hammy as a Virginia cured. And the facts, such as they are, are warped to sex up plot lines without establishing any coherent historical point of view. But the payoff comes in the moments of impish delight amidst the wreckage: See Archbishop Cranmer's German wife clamber into her box! Gay dancing masters, miserably failed assassins and the nutty Spanish ambassador! And Nick Dunning's diabolical Thomas Boleyn, who finds (as Ice T would find 400 years later) that pimpin' ain't easy.

I'm convinced that Jonathan Rhys Meyers is destroying his career with the lead role. (Is this the same actor that stole scenes in Velvet Goldmine away from Ewen MacGregor and Christian Bale? Can one really play Henry VIII as a cross between Elvis and Gordon Gekko? Apparently so.) And Natalie Dormer plays Anne Boleyn as if the ambitious lady-in-waiting had The Rules, The Book of Martyrs and The Devil Wore Prada all stitched up in one volume in the same leather binding. (The exclusive video with Dormer strolling through the Tower with the "historian" for the series that's up on the web site's chat page now is absolutely hilarious.) And then there's Peter O'Toole!

Truth be told, Mrs. Quinn-Byrne and I have been watching episodes a week early via our On Demand network, and we caught the final episode last Sunday night. The wine we'd been drinking at a dinner with friends helped us through (SPOILER!) the execution of Anne Boleyn, though I did annoy my spouse with shrill cries of "I shall rule England!" every time the toddler Elizabeth appeared onscreen.

At last -- with a few delays as we waited for the French executioner -- it was all over for Dormer and for us. Where can The Tudors go from here? Will it go on? (In a word, yes.) Will Meyers put on weight for season three? A fat suit at least? And bereft of Deadwood, The Wire and even Californication, how shall we waste our Sunday nights without this rutting rotten royalty?

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