I’m not proud to say that the only thing I remember from European History in high school and college about Henry VIII is the fact that he married Anne Boleyn and that he fooled around with her sister Mary.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you only know that he had 6 wives, or you know that he liked to “take a mistress,” or you know that he had some illegitimate kids. Maybe that’s the only thing you know.
I’m happy to tell you that the minute details of his extraordinary early life are not required knowledge before you dive into the 10-part miniseries that explores the world of King Henry VIII.
Showtime was kind enough to send over the first 6 episodes of this amazing show and I’m indebted to them for life.
Rather than focus on the things you may have learned in your European History classes, there are 5 basic things you should know about this show before diving in, head first, and enjoying every minute of it.
1. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is incredible. He’s absolutely captivating. He’s got this stare that just burns a hole in his line of sight. His lips? To die for. Let us also not forget that he has a body that men would kill for. He plays Henry VIII as a petulant child that wants to be better than everyone around him. On the other side of the coin, he plays Henry with a maturity beyond his years. His suffering shines through every single scene that Rhys Meyers plays. He has chemistry with everyone. He has romantic chemistry with any lady he “beds,” as it were (and believe me…he beds quite a few in the first episode alone). He has friendly chemistry with his best friends (the to-die-for Henry Cavill, the hilarious Callum Blue). He plays noble and plays humble; you hate him one minute and love him the next. This role was seemingly tailor made for him and he blows me away.
2. The acting in this miniseries is intense. Nuanced and beautiful, strong, scenery-chewing at its best. Aside from Jonathan Rhys Meyers, actors like Sam Neill can look at someone and problems are solved. The kings, the queens, the mistresses, the clergy. Everyone is in top form and deserving of any award that comes their way.
3. Women weren’t even remotely as equal in those days as they are in our modern times, but the main women we meet as the hours progress are strong in their inequality. Gabrielle Anwar is gorgeous and strong willed as Henry VIII’s sister Margaret. Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn is charming and enticing. Her sister Mary, played by Perdita Weeks, is equally as delightful. Queen Katherine (Maria Doyle Kennedy) is disarmingly strong, against a world that should drag her down. These women, who all had a hand in what became of Henry VIII, are just brilliant to watch.
4. Hot boys!! Henry Cavill (swoon), Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Emmanuel Leconte (King Francis I)…they’re delightfully attractive! They pal around like modern boys, playing tennis, indulging in jousting matches, fulfilling the boys-will-be-boys mantra. They are fabulous! Let us not forget hot girls!! Natalie Dormer, Gabrielle Anwar, Perdita Weeks, they’re absolutely gorgeous. I want to be them!
5. Showtime has easily become one of the greatest networks for original material – The L Word, Dexter, Weeds, to name a few. This is no different. They’ve taken what could have easily been a retread of any story ever told about Henry VIII and they’ve spun a story that doesn’t stop. It’s rich, and enticing, and gorgeous, and funny, and sexy, and you name it, it has it. It’s just wonderful, and I encourage you all to watch it!
Do yourselves a favor – check it out on Showtime on Demand right now. The premiere episode airs on Showtime, starting April 2. Let us all know what you think of the show!!
In other news….
To echo everything that’s been said so far about the Battlestar Galactica season finale – Holy Frack! There are so many questions I have. I cannot believe we have to wait until 2008 to get the answers that we need!!!
I haven’t had the chance to really talk about it much this season, but Without a Trace, though it’s been treated pretty badly by CBS these days, is continuing to silently wow me. This week’s Samantha-centric episode does what any good procedural should do, but it adds so many layers. I love it!
Though Grey’s hasn’t been keeping me interested for these past few episodes, I have to say that I have not been wowed by an acting performance on that show as much as I was by the scene in the linen closet with Izzie and George. Say what you will about the relationship that miraculously appeared out of nowhere; this scene? They spoke NO WORDS. Katherine Heigl and TR Knight are easily the most underrated duo on that show. They made me believe everything that happened between them in that scene and for a minute, I invested in this Izzie and George are in love idea. It was intense, and I’m in it for the long haul. I want to wait to see what the writers have in store.
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