Monday, June 01, 2009

Question from Nanette - Season Three of "The Tudors"

Has anyone seen the new season of 'The Tudors' (covering Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves)? I don't have cable tv, so all I know of the new episodes are the clips I've seen here and there.

My question is - what are your impressions of the new season? Is it historically accurate (I know, that's can be a silly question considering how many liberties the writers have taken), how are the new queens, do you like it/hate it, and so forth?

And about the Anne of Cleves episodes, how does the script handle the controversy about her supposed ugliness?


Lara said...

Check out the Raucous Royals blog:

Carlyn has done an excellent write-up of each episode this season, starting with episode one here:

Gareth Russell said...

Personally, whilst I liked Joss Stone's take on Anna of Cleves (understated, warm, human), I thought the characterisation of Catherine Howard in the season finale was appalling. Annabelle Willis as Jane Seymour was a good deal to sophisticated and charming to play the real Jane convincingly, since even her friends like the Spanish ambassador Chapuys described her as 'cold and haughty,' but it's nothing compared to the travesty of how Catherine Howard has been presented.

Since Henry Czerny did not return as the duke of Norfolk after Series 1, Catherine is now pushed into Henry's bed by the duke of Suffolk, Edward Seymour and Francis Bryan. Hans Matheson also failed to return as archbishop Cranmer, so given the clash of Norfolk and Cranmer in the fall of Catherine Howard, it's interesting/worrying to see where this is all going. Worse than the technical inaccuracies was the way in which Catherine was presented as an openly sexualised harlot, flirting with Henry in the most obscene way and leaping into bed with him almost immediately. Henry (who remains the svelte JRM not the corpulent ogre the real queen had to marry) cannot surely believe she is a virgin, can he? And yet it was the revelation that she had not been a virgin in 1541 that brought about her initial fall from grace, before the allegations of adultery also surfaced later that year. Henry clearly viewed his wife's dispoiled state to be of equal importance to her alleged post-marital infidelities - the treatment of her pre-marital lover, Francis Dereham, was infinitely crueller than that accorded to her alleged partner in adultery, Thomas Culpeper. Given all this, with an unbelievable Catherine and an impossibly young and good-looking Henry, I would have to say that Series 3 was mediocre and Series 4 is shaping up to be a disaster.

Unknown said...

I also don't think they picked a good actress to play Catherine Howard- I don't think she is pretty at all! She looks all strung out and seems not too bright. I didn't know on the show Henry thinks shes a virgin! they practically said she wasn't and how comfortable she was with Henry right away shows shes not.
Joss Stone was OK- but the accent!! It was as if she was trying to imitate some random "foreign" accent. Not german at all- better if she just stuck to British accent because her acting would have been good if not for that.
I also don't know why you call it a controversy. If she was considered ugly then they have to show it. Actresses play characters that are not considered good looking all the time. Just because Joss Stone is playing her does not mean they should all of a sudden change history.

Foose said...

"The Tudors" didn't really treat the whole issue of Anne of Cleves' alleged ugliness, which was disappointing, although they did emphasize Henry's disgust with "that woman." Nor were her clothes insane enough to justify the ridicule of the English recorded in the records. You'd think "The Tudors" costume designer, who has produced some pretty astonishing effects, would have gone wild with Anne of Cleves.

It also seemed like the perfect opportunity for an ambitious screenwriter to come up with a compelling reason for Anne's lack of appeal to Henry (just as in real life, "The Tudors" showed the courtiers, before they were aware of Henry's attitude, not reacting to Anne as if they thought she was ugly) -- the rumored "strong body odor" could have been utilized, or the possibly ultra-long nose detected in the X-ray of a German porrtait of her (although the actress who played Jane Seymour was the one who seemed to have something of a schnozz). Or they could have done a scene reflecting what most opinion now thinks was the crucial psychological moment -- when Henry, disguised as a messenger, burst in upon the newly-arrived Anne, apparently hoping for a courtly exchange of flirtations between him and the lady -- who would surely recognize the royal lion beneath the disguise! -- only to meet with puzzled uninterest by Anne, who wanted to watch the bear-baiting going on outside and was unimpressed by the portly old menial who kept interrupting. And dread impotence thus descended upon the king.

But nada. They probably omitted the disguised-Henry-epiphany because JRM is still being presented as trim and handsome, if psychopathic. So yes, the Anne of Cleves episodes were rather disappointing, with Anne all cozy and Marmee-like with her stepchildren and nobly flinchy with Henry in bed.

Serena said...

odding enough you can watch the Tudors on

Faith said...

I thought Season 3 was very disappointing. JRM seemed to spend 3/4 of his time in full-volume yelling. An entire episode was spent with him in seclusion after Jane Seymour's death -- I did not see the point of that. And I agree with everyone that the way in which Catherine Howard is portrayed is appalling, and certainly not within a country mile of historically accurate. I don't think the characters had the depth of previous seasons. Hopefully season 4 will be better -- they'll have to age JRM at least a little bit, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

I agree that the gorgeous actress playing Jane Seymour was completely inappropriate. The real Jane could barely read or write and even her firmest allies conceded she was very plain. Also--she was at court for 4 years before Henry noticed her--and then it was because she was quiet and simple and nursed his leg. Joss Stone was not ugly enough as Cleves--but the actress playing Catherine Howard looks like she's a victim of fetal alcohol syndrome. Not only is she NOT pretty--she looks a little retarded, or crazy.... or addicted to something? Very unnerving.

margaret easton said...

Such a shame that the series could not have stuck to the truth. Surely there was enough real scandal and excitement without representing the first actress who played Jane Seymour as a flirtatious glamour puss and Catherine Howard as a naked wood nympth prancing about. And Henry V111 was one of the most famous redheads that ever lived (apart from his daughter Elizabeth first)!
Still I suppose if it makes people more aware of English history (or at least this version of it) then it can't be all bad. Still I have to admit I'm quite addicted if only to see what is factual and what isn't.