The Tudors: Season 1

Written by The Critic. Posted in Chronic Reviews

This Soap Might Just Be Heading Toward Cheesy Greatness

OK. I’m seriously embarrassed to admit it, but this new crop of nouveau soap operas continues to amuse the crap out of me. Much like RomeThe Tudors is wrung out and beaten harder than a sari on the banks of the Ganges—and, just as improbably, also comes out looking pretty damn good. True, I might be blinded by all the sex, but those rascally royals are more entertaining than an Amsterdam plaza after a honkin’ slice of cake. If you know what I mean.

Alright, maybe that’s a tad hyperbolic, but this show is so in your face it’s remarkable. Lets just start with the credits and the first shot of Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII. It’s literally in our face and his, a fairly extreme close-up that screams, “We will soon get to know this person very very intimately.” And, that we do. Actually, the opening of this show totally nails how important it is to set the tone perfectly with the credit sequence. If it’s not good, if it’s not spot-on, it can be ruinous. In this case, the classical visual and thematic structuring mixed with the raw sexuality is all you need to know about what you’re about to watch—royals meets The Real World. Only the challenges can end with far more blood and the possible loss of your head.

By the way, what’s with the new trend of hyper-sexy shows? Both HBO and Showtime have gone pretty far out there, especially in relation to regular ol’ TV. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Being more thankful, actually…

The Tudors’ first season never ceased to amuse me with its unrelenting melodrama and soap opera stylings. If it wasn’t a dying art, I’d say throw this on at noon and I’ll stay home and eat bonbons and watch. Oh, wait, I am home at noon eating bonbons. I wonder if they were thinking of me and my kind as the viewing demographic when they pitched this badboy to the network. Somehow all the shots of Rhys Meyers’ abs make me think probably not.

Speaking of Rhys Meyers, that guy should get an Emmy for perfectly capturing capricious petulance. Now that I think about it, they should create some MTV movie award for “Best Tantrums” for the whole cast.

Hey. That totally reminds me of a fairly stunning incident I witnessed once. So, I had hooked up with this chick under, um, less than karmically wonderful circumstances. OK, OK—she had a boyfriend. I’m not evil, I swear. Just a regular ol’ stereotypical guy. Anyway, I went to her work to try to smooth out any guilty feelings that might be showing their ugly little heads. I figured heading over there to chat could help nudge the situation into a beneficial place. Beneficial to two of us, at least. I mean, I wanted a second date and I could see that the situation was complex enough to warrant some careful consideration. A laissez-faire attitude would certainly end up with me not getting my way.

Anyway, I’m sitting outside waiting for her to come out on her lunch break when a mom comes out to her car with three kids in tow—one in a stroller, one in her arms and a girl following behind. I’m guessing the girl was probably about four. Well, she was totally not psyched about being left to her own devices, and a full-on meltdown was brewing. There was plaintive pleading, then some four-year-old-style cajoling. Soon a little threatening began, followed by said meltdown. Mom was doing her best to short circuit the impending storm, but to no avail.

The girl reached the limit of her tolerance for not getting her way and broke into the most remarkable tantrum I’ve ever seen. “I want someone to hold me,” she said as she began to stomp her feet. “I want someone to hold me,” she yelled as she began to jump up and down. “I want someone to hold me,” she bellowed as she proceeded to get on her hands and knees in an act of progress-stopping defiance. And then, the coup de grace, “I want someone to hold me,” she screamed at blood curdling levels as she somehow managed to bounce up and down on her hands and knees on the concrete like the mongoose Rikki Tikki Tavi dancing around the mother cobra, Nagaina.

This girl wanted her way—very very badly—and had absolutely no way to express it except sheer and utter primal physical and vocal demonstrations bordering on lunacy. By the way, it didn’t work. I don’t know how, but Mom simply let her get that out of her system, then did some adult-style manipulations of her own until the girl dutifully followed to the car. Oh, and I did get a second date.

Hey, you know what kept me from throwing a tantrum of my own during the final episode of the season? Some killer wine courtesy of my good bud, Trader Joe. It’s this Italian red, Epicuro Aglianico 2006, which rings up at $4.99. A very good wine definitely worth more than it costs. It’s nice to find something that seems like it has value, a fairly uncommon occurrence these days.

Oh, crap, and the carrot cake. Shit yeah I love carrot cake. The cream cheese icing is the key, though—not to mention how fantastic the combination of carrot and raisin is. Actually, good icing can make pretty much anything taste delicious. I can’t remember where that cake came from, but I’m thinking Ocean Diner down in Hermosa Beach. Those guys make some sweet pastries.

I gotta wrap this up, now. All this food and wine talk has me hankerin’ for a taste. Just a little something to get me over the hump, man.

The rest of the cast is brilliant. James FrainNatalie DormerHenry CavillJeremy NorthamMaria Doyle Kennedy and, of course, Sam Neill are just the beginning of this show’s casting perfection. If even one of the crew slipped up the whole soapy house of cards would tumble.

Speaking of which, the whole over-the-topness of The Tudors really does sell, but it also can be too much. Like most shows of this genre and tone, it takes a bit of conscious suspension of the need to wretch every now and again. And then they cut someone’s head off and everything is a-OK.

Do they allow that kind of stuff on noontime soaps? I hope so, ‘cuz it goes so great with bonbons…

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.