Vanessa V. (sevenspiders) Reviewed on 1/19/2009...
Reimagining Renaissance history as a soap-opera epic of intrigue and backstabbing, the second season of Showtime's lush period drama is captivating, fun and a vast improvement over the first season.
Season one of The Tudors introduces not just the characters, but the overall tone of sensuality and ruthlessness, and is certainly an above average quality drama. But it is too often wrapped up in unnecessary gratuitous sex scenes between characters we never see again. Season two keeps the requisite lust, but elevates the writing and unites sex and story into a seamless melodrama.
Almost everyone knows the basic historical story, so there aren't too many spoilers in saying that season 2 follows Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn's marraige to its ultimate failure. Henry breaks irrevocably with the Catholic church and steps out on his own, gaining true absolute power in England and trying to assert that absolute power overseas. His intense passion for Anne Boleyn turns to hatred as she fails to provide a son, and the ultimate consequences of his actions are fully felt.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Natalie Dormer are excellent as Henry and Anne, and the supporting cast, including Peter O'Toole as Pope Gregory and Jeremy Northam as Sir Thomas More are all that could be hoped for. In its second season The Tudors becomes an epic drama of love, betrayal, lust, faith and power that is well worth following.
6 of 7 member(s) found this review helpful.
kc_sunshine101 | 08/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you liked season one, you are going to love season two. However, if you only liked season one for the racy sex scenes, you will be disappointed. Season two focuses on the political aspects of Henry VIII's reign and the downfall of Anne Boleyn. The show received a ton of criticism for being historically inaccurate in season one, and thankfully, they really cleaned up their act for season two. I have since read several books (Alison Weir and David Starkey both have good ones) and the effort to make season two more accurate is obvious and I think that the viewers will appreciate that. I certainly did. Here is a summary of my favorite episodes from season two:
Episode 2- Henry tells Anne that he intends to marry her and make her Queen of England. He dubs her Marquess of Pembroke and they travel to France where Henry presents her to Francis I (King of France) as his future wife. She does an amazingly enchanting dance with her ladies for Francis I that will leave you drooling. Henry and Anne finally seal the deal; she becomes pregnant with Elizabeth I.
Episode 5- This episode is centered on the downfall of Thomas More. This is some of the finest acting work that I have ever seen. Jeremy Northam gives the performance of a lifetime. This episode will make any grown man cry. Henry makes the tough decision to execute the only man that has ever had the integrity to be honest with him and stick to his beliefs even during the political mayhem of the time. Without giving too much away, the ending sequence is breathtaking. Bravo to both Jeremy Northam and Jonathan Rhys Myers, both did a great job in this episode.
Episode 7- Anne realizes that she will never truly be Queen of England as long as Katherine is alive. She is starting to realize that her days are numbered and she is quickly losing the King's favor. Anne and Henry share a sex scene that will make your heart race. Amazing camera and editing work in this episode from the dance/sex scene to the final scene that I will explain in a second. Katherine dies and Maria Doyle Kennedy really shines as she hangs on for dear life until the very end. Anne and Henry have their infamous celebration in the courtyard and Anne has a very intense scene with her father at the very end where she announces that all is good in the world, "There is good news all around. Katherine is dead and I am pregnant. I am pregnant with the King's son. We are on the edge of a golden world!"
Episode 10- There is no doubt that season two belongs to Natalie Dormer as Anne, but here she leaves the viewers with no doubts. She IS Anne as she awaits her death in the tower and finally takes leave of the world. Calling her performance amazing would be an understatement. Everything from her quiet hysterics to her eerie calm to her infamous line, "I have a little neck." She captures everything that we know about Anne Boleyn and her final days in the tower. I have watched this episode over and over and over again and cry like a baby every time. They really paid a lovely tribute to this fascinating woman, even down to the color of her gown and her final words as she approaches the scaffold. Brilliant!! I definitely felt a sense of loss that Natalie won't be on the show next season, but we should be proud of her representation of Anne Boleyn. Natalie will truly be missed and the other cast members have big shoes to fill.
I do want to point out a couple of things that I did notice that were inaccurate just in case people want to discuss it here. In episode one, Charles Brandon tells the King that he has remarried and that his wife's name is "Catherine Brooke" when her name was actually Catherine Willoughby. He also said that he needed a mother for his young son, when in fact, he already had 3 children by this time. Also, in episode one there is a scene where Thomas Wyatt and Anne Boleyn are in bed together. They show this as some sort of dream or figment of his imagination, but I cannot figure out why they would do this in the first place. It is known that Thomas Wyatt did have some sort of affection toward Anne, but this scene may cause a bit of confusion for viewers that aren't as familiar with the story. Also, in episode ten, after they arrest the men (Thomas Wyatt included) Cromwell tells Wyatt that he will be freed and he yells after Cromwell, "But I am the only one who is guilty!!" I don't really think that this was necessary since there is no evidence to back up any type of physical relationship between the two of them or any proof that Thomas Wyatt had some sort of obsession/imaginary relationship with Anne going on in his own mind. However, I do think that historians generally agree that he was enamored by her.
Absolutely gorgeous vision of a crucial moment in history! H
Mr. A. Crowley | 09/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There will be spoilers here - a caveat. Please read on.
Meet Henry VIII as he was as a young man: a political rock star -- handsome, robust, wild, spoiled, and hot-tempered. Everything he wanted, he got -- except for that elusive male heir...
The Tudors (SII) is an absolutely gorgeous visual ode to one of the most controversial chapters in Western political history. The series itself is a dazzling celebration of Tudor-era music (a precursor to our own pop music), stunning costumes, lovely, lusty women and handsome manly men, breathtaking castles and Tudor manors. Season II is even more provocative, dangerous, and sexy than the first season. Bravo, Showtime, for producing such a lush, thoughtful, and beautifully produced series that is above all an intelligent meditation on the shifting nature of politics and the dangers of gross imbalances of political power.
I am a literary scholar who specializes in this period and I love the adaptation, despite some of its loose treatment of dates and persons. The series captures the tumultuous *spirit* of Henry's era. The series allows us to peer into this astonishing historical moment, the instant when England broke from the Church of Rome. The future of politics and the state of nations would never be the same. Another plus: Henry's queens are brought to life beautifully by Maria Doyle Kennedy (as the pious and determined Katherine of Aragon) and by the newcomer Natalie Dormer, who excellently plays the controversial Anne Boleyn as a fierce social-climber haunted by her past and troubled by her father's rabid political manipulations. Dormer's Boleyn has a look deep in her eyes that shows us that she knows, in her soul, that she is doomed. This is a testament to Dormer as a young actress; she shows us the "arc" of Anne Boleyn as Anne/Natalie matures from a young and ambitious mistress to-the-king to a neglected, then persecuted, wife and lonely mother (to Elizabeth I, future great queen). JRM is also splendidly original as Henry: brash, lustful, and temperamental. We can believe in his Henry's burning love for Anne as well as his eventual hatred for her and his willingness to have the mother of his child executed.
This series is in my opinion the finest vision of this time period, superior to A Man for All Seasons, Anne of the Thousand Days, the Elizabeth I series with Helen Mirren, and numerous others. This series has sparkle and spirit in addition to rich intelligence (evidenced by its well-composed screenplay), smart casting choices (though Joss Stone is still a question mark for me as Anne of Cleves), and sensational locations. Bravo! "
barry | Boston, MA United States | 09/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have only the highest praise for season 2 of The Tudors. I don't want to give away spoilers by going into the plot. Yes, it is history which we all pretty much know. But it is amazing to see it played out in front of you with 3 dimsional characters that make the facts take a life of their own.
The presentation is glorious. The scenery, costumes and all to do with the time period is breath taking and expertly done. And the acting is of the highest caliber.
I find complaints people have had with this season to be rather minimal. Anyone can take a masterpiece and have something with it that does not please them. For me everything about this show gives it an A +++++. King Henry and Anne Boleyn are the center here but all the other historical pieces are expertly put in.
I am amazed how the show manages to show history so true to fact, true to life and mezmerizing to view. Season 2 is an entity to itself and such ensemble acting is rare to find. View this and you will see only the highest quality television available, refresh your history knowledge and see the best acting out there.
A thousand days
Jay Dickson | Portland, OR | 01/14/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Unquestionably the most politically influential queen consort in England's history, Anne Boleyn has had her story retold many times in film and video form, but never in the sort of detail the second season of the Showtime miniseries THE TUDORS accords. This story is so great that it's really a treat to see it detailed as closely as it is here; unfortunately, the recipe for the mini-series seems to be "DALLAS at the Palace," so the retelling of historical events is so altered here as to be sometimes unrecognizable. The producers' bizarre decision to star tiny, tightbodied Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as the famously tall and corpulent Henry VIII makes even less sense than the previous season, particularly given Rhys-Meyers' incredibly limited acting range (he seems to be able to portray only three emotions: lustfulness, sulkiness, and fury). Shouting out a large proportion of his lines, this Henry VIII gnaws the scenery instead of a giant turkey leg, and he seems barely capable of growing a tiny dark peachfuzz mustache and goatee. Because Rhys-Meyers is so young, the producers and directors decided to put him in as few scenes as possible with his eldest benighted daughter the Princess Mary, which is a terrible mistake since she's about the only person you can possibly feel sorry for in this version of the story.
Natalie Dormer fares much better than her co-star as his doomed wife, Anne Boleyn, and is genuinely beautiful and seductive; however, as with Rhys-Meyers, it's practically impossible to believe her as one of the leading intellectual lights of the English Reformation. But she is genuinely excellent in the season's fine final episode, where the condemned Anne is purified beyond fear and finally accepts her fate with the grace and dignity becoming a queen. Even better is Maria Doyle Kennedy, who does not have enough to do as the rejected Katharine of Aragon except pine and look unhappy. Most of the actors seem to have been chosen for their beautiful bodies; you will never see so many washboard abs in a gym as you do at this Tudor court. The costumes, as always, are beyond sumptuous, as are the lovely matte paintings of the royal palaces and London."
Lots of 16th century sex and violence
Viva | So. Cal. | 01/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, there is some pretty good acting too, and the production and costume design are hard to beat. Yes, this is definitely for more mature audiences, as there is some fairly graphic sexual content, along with some stunningly realistic torture and execution scenes. Beheadings abound. Rhys Meyers appears to have improved his acting skills from the first season, while Natalie Dormer, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and the others all do a wonderful job with their characters. I won't get into the historical accuracy issue, as it's not my specialty. It is quite a lavish production and there is never a dull moment."