I have a slightly irrational thing for Jonathan Rhys Meyers (so cute! and with those dead eyes and the alcohol problem, so scary!), so in the course of skimming through a number of television shows that have been languishing in my Netflix Instant Watch queue, I figured I might as well try out The Tudors.
It’s a vastly silly show, or at least the couple of episodes I watched seemed rather vastly silly. There are a lot of sex scenes, but not much eroticism, a lot of period costumes and skulking about but little conviction of the blood and dirt and differing mores of the time. Meyers is sort of wonderfully petty, but I’m bored by him as a man who, with very little variation, has gotten everything he ever wanted in life.
I think this is why I liked Wolf Hall so much, and why I like Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V so much. Exercising absolute power isn’t that difficult, and whim and irrationality aren’t terribly interesting. Staying alive under such a monarch, bending the arc of that capriciousness to reason, that’s what’s fascinating. And it means that the men who serve kings are inevitably more interesting than the kings themselves. The show has some promise of that, I suppose. I like Jeremy Northam (utterly excellent as Randolph Henry Ash in Posession) and James Frain both tremendously, and if there’s going to be a genuine clash of wills between them as More and Cromwell, I’ll stick around. But I’d rather be at Wolf Hall than see Henry get tarts delivered to his room and wreck staterooms. Children tire easily. Men are fascinating for the long game.