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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Historical > The Tudors – The Complete First Season (Showtime DVD)

The Tudors – The Complete First Season (Showtime DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C     Episodes: B



Some times history turns you into a monster, or sometimes a hero, or in the case of Showtime’s original series The Tudors a 16th century sexual rock star.  Don’t let that opening statement sway you, this reviewer loves The Tudors, but just to be clear this series is FAR FROM historically accurate.  The Tudors takes a large amount of historical liberties in creating Showtime’s newest sex and drama driven series, but with that recognized one can kick back and enjoy the ride (or is it romp?).  The series stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII, Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, Sam Neill as Cardinal Wolsey, and a plethora of other outstanding actors.  The series is well written to pull in a sex/action obsessed audience, well-casted to keep the audience, and an art direction that could make some Hollywood films jealous.  The series may rearrange events, combine historical figures into one, create completely new events, and even make everyone in 16th Century England completely sexy; but this reviewer nevertheless finds The Tudors to be an amazing and well written show.


The premise of the series centers on King Henry VIII of England and his escapades as king.  The first season dives right into Henry’s lust for the much researched Anne Boleyn (mother of Elizabeth I).  The creator of the series Michael Hirst (Elizabeth the Golden Age) openly arranged the series to be more like a mature Soap Opera for adults, with the life of King Henry VIII being the frame work.  Most of Season One centers on two factors, one Henry’s lust for Boleyn and two his attempts to rid himself of his current wife, Catherine of Aragon (Aunt to Charles V of Spain).  Needless to say going against a King’s Aunt is a bad idea.  The sexually fueled series does a nice job in getting the basic historical facts right, but makes most of Henry’s decisions center on sex and Boleyn.  But who is to say his decisions weren’t all sexually oriented, Henry was a known ladies man.  Where as many may think of Henry VIII as only a portly bearded King, in his younger years, Henry was a scholar, an athlete, and apparently quite desirable.  The series is a must watch full of sex, political turmoil, betrayal, greed, bastard children, and separation from the Catholic Church; nothing spells Emmy like political and religious upheaval.


The technical features on this 4 Disc, 10 episode set are nice but not perfect.  The picture is presented in an anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 Widescreen format for 16 X 9 televisions and tends to have some pixilation and compression issues in many scenes.  The colors are bright and sleek, with most of the picture quality being quite crisp. The sound is adequate with its 5.1 Dolby Digital Surrounds, but fails to give the ‘pop’ one would expect in some of the more heated scenes.  The extras are presented nicely but are essentially useless, save for one.  The extras total a little over a half hour of actual material centering on this particular series and the rest are features via ‘N technology’ on your computer that allow the viewer to watch various other Showtime series like Dexter or Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t.  The extra features centering on The Tudors include featurettes on The Tudors production and costume design and a second featurette on The Tudors historical locations.  This reviewer being a bit of a history buff found the extras both lackluster and simple; much more could have been done.


It may have become a common trend for networks like HBO and Showtime to create series loosely based on historical fact and for one this reviewer is happy.  With so many people out there watching useless reality television like Flavor of Love (shudder), if networks are able to pull people into something that is at least half historically accurate like The Tudors television will be a better place.  Sure the series is lavish, dramatic and taken out of context, but boy is it cool.



-   Michael P Dougherty II


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