The biggest problem the show struggles with is sex. Undoubtedly the original pitch for this show was "attractive ye olde English King has sex with everything that moves, and then beheads bitches and stuff". Yes, Henry the VIII had 6 wives and countless mistresses, but the problem with centring a series around sex is that it makes it very difficult to show the characters in a bad light. No one wants to see the sex king get old, or invalid, or deal with the paperwork associated with being the head of an empire. It also, unless you're a porn addict, gets old pretty quick.
The series takes place between 1491 and 1547, and it's only in the last episode that Jonathan Rhys Meyers looks significantly older. Before then it wasn't advantageous to have a lecherous old king with the young women he chose as brides, not really TV friendly. Sure, they changed his hair style, put him in slightly bulkier clothes and added a few creases around his eyes during the last season or two, but considering how much weight Henry VIII gained and how gross history reports he became it's kind of laughable. Not to mention the Pantomime-esque old man voice Meyers employs to get across his old age.
|"old" Henry VIII|
BUT, complaints aside, this isn't a bad show. In fact, it's quite a good show. I'm not sure I'd say I'm a Jonathan Rhys Meyers fan, but Sam Neil (Cardinal Wolsey), Henry Cavill (Charles Brandon) and Maria Doyle Kennedy (Catherine of Aragon), amongst others, were unbelievably good and really elevated the program to great heights. Even the singer Joss Stone who played Anne of Cleves was good, something I had not expected when I saw her name listed on IMDB.
And once the Anne Boleyn story is finished, the show manages to look wider than their court, especially in relation to the riots and systematic execution of countless Englishmen/women/children who didn't agree with Henry as head of church. Prior to that, the break from church was mostly seen as it related to the union of Anne and Henry and the whispers that abounded in court. After that, the realities set in, and the whole disastrous event is beautifully and heartbreakingly played out on the screen.
I guess it was a bit of an experiment, an attempt to bank on the popularity of history (especially when it involves sex) and translate the big screen events such as Elizabeth to TV. Ultimately I'd say that in spite of the flaws, the over-sexed narrative and over-attractive (and youthful) cast and historical inaccuracies aside, the series was a success and worth a watch. Just be ready to roll your eyes and cringe a few times.
|death comes riding.|