Friday, June 12, 2009

The Tudors: Season 3

(Attention: If you are in the UK, this post may contain spoilers!)

I was looking through some of the posts on the Showtime website about season three of The Tudors and decided I wanted to post my opinions here. Anyone with even a remote knowledge of me and my life knows my love of the show The Tudors. I have had the utmost respect for writer/producer Michael Hirst ever since I first laid eyes on his movie, Elizabeth. The fact that he writes every single word of the show - in an age of teams of writers for reality TV shows - leaves me completely in awe. In fact, I credit Michael Hirst with my newly launched passion for Anne Boleyn and Tudor History. (More on that in another post)

Throughout seasons one and two of The Tudors, I would awake early every Sunday, make myself a vanilla cappuccino and watch the new episode of The Tudors a whole week early On Demand. I could hardly wait for my Sunday ritual! Then I would watch the current week's episode (which I'd already viewed last Sunday morning) that night and every night it was on after. Really! I loved the show THAT much! And I was NEVER disappointed. Merely hearing the theme song gave me goosebumps In fact, it's my ringtone! In contrast: during season three, there were Sunday nights I didn't even remember to switch over to Showtime until The Tudors was already on.

I must admit that I went into it with slightly lowered expectations. My love for actress Natalie Dormer and her insanely brilliant portrayal of Anne Boleyn could only set me up for disappointment in a season after her execution. Unfortunately, Natalie/Anne's absence left a vacuum which could not be filled, even with a new and improved Jane Seymour.
Casting directors replaced season 2's Jane, Anita Briem, with Annabelle Wallis, but never announced why. Although I didn't dislike Anita as much as other viewers, given more lines in the season finale, her accent began to reveal itself as sounding too Scottish. Not that it mattered much, as Hirst had Queen Jane dead very early in season 3. He had to, because the season was only 8 episodes instead of the previous ten.

Jane v. Jane

For me, the biggest complaint with season 3 was the focus on the Pilgrimage of Grace, the rebels and random violence instead of the character studies I enjoyed so much in seasons 1 & 2. In fairness, history doesn't lend itself to the same examinations of Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard as it does to Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon. However, this was where I would have loved to see Hirst take dramatic license and look deeper into the ladies' relationships with Henry and his courtiers.

Bottom line: I was disappointed in season 3 and I do not have the highest hopes for season 4, unless Michael Hirst goes back to the formula he used to make seasons 1 & 2 so compelling.

Season 4 will also be the final season of The Tudors. This is also a travesty, as I believe that Hirst and company have chosen a great actress in Sarah Bolger as Mary Tudor and could easily move forward in the Tudor Dynasty while regaining some of that dramatic magic I grew to love and look forward to every Sunday.

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