It’s been a bit of a busy week, and my blog, as usual, has suffered neglect. Last weekend we were in Brest, visiting some of N’s family; then the first half of the week was spent planning my seder, which I held on Tuesday (more on that later); since Tuesday I’ve been teaching, doing the dishes, and trying to catch up on my reading and writing.
And, as is wont to happen when I have too much to do and not enough time or energy to do it, I’ve turned off and tuned in: I’ve been watching television. I realize this is counterproductive, but a girl is allowed to space out every now and again, no? This past week, in the void left by "Grey’s Anatomy," I watched the first two episodes of "The Tudors," tipped off by Bookpacker.
English history, political intrigue, lots of sex, and the perennial glowering particular to Jonathan Rhys-Meyers? Sounds like a recipe for success. But, sadly, its faults significantly outweigh its strong points. It’s good entertainment, of course, and a half-rate history lesson is better than no history lesson at all. At the very least, the crafty Cardinal Wolsey has been picked up out of the history books, dusted off, and brought to sinister, conniving life by Sam Neill. Showtime subscribers will now know who he was, and that France once had a king called François I. That’s reward in itself. Plus it’s kind of cool to see the 7year-old future Queen "Bloody" Mary of England push the 10 year-old Dauphin of France to the ground when he refuses to kiss her.
The major flaw which almost makes the show unwatchable is, however, the writing. It’s pretty consistently lousy– so much so that a decent line here or there has the ring of genius when it sallies forth from the chorus of clunkers. Particularly groan-inducing are the scenes with Sir Thomas More. For example, in the first episode, good Sir Thomas sounds like one of those Introducing Philosophy books: "As a liberal humanist, I am against war."
Or take this little history lesson tucked in between schemes with Cardinal Wolsey: "I’ve received a gift from the Duke of Urbino," Henry mentions to More, shortly after More makes the prediction that one day it will be
"ordinary enough and nothing strange" for a girl to be educated. "A book called The Prince by a Florentine, Niccolo Machiavelli," Henry tosses off.
"Yes I know it," More answers gravely. "It’s about political opportunism."
Henry laughs an evil–yet sensitive– laugh. "It’s true," he avers. "It’s not like your book, Utopia. It’s less– utopian."
So if you slept through history in high school, now’s your chance to catch up. If you didn’t sleep through high school– well, like I said, "Grey’s Anatomy" is taking a short hiatus, and a girl’s got to watch something when she’s too tired to read. Watch the first two episodes here.