A funny story. When Showtime’s The Tudors first came out, it was given a preview on some non-premium cable channel (USA? I can’t remember). So I tuned in and watched the first episode and thought, “I don’t really get the point of this.” Only much later did I realize that, in this non-premium version, all the nude scenes had been edited out. When I saw the episode in its original form, I thought, “O-o-o-o-oh, I get it now!”
The fact is: there’s not all that much point to The Tudors but, watched with the nude scenes in, it’s pretty compulsive viewing. A sexy soap opera about Henry VIII, a little easy on the historical accuracy but played mostly for sex, treachery and fun. Jonathan Rhys Meyers rocks the house as Henry, a young lion slowly tangled in the net of Anne Boleyn. Anne is Natalie Dormer, who does the same thing to the audience Anne does to Henry: slowly but inextricably captures them.
And how terrific an actor is Sam Neill? He has the great role of Cardinal Wolsey here. Whenever I see Neill I find myself thinking, “Boy, he’s well cast in this.” But eventually you realize, he’s well cast in just about everything.
Anyway, if you want an historically accurate and thematically deep fictional recreation of these events, read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. If you want to sit on the edge of your seat wondering when the next bodice is going to rip, watch The Tudors.