is one of the most compulsively watchable TV series in recent memory. It's (mostly) true to history and shows the undeniable power, corruption, enormous appetites, and drive of King Henry VIII. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a vengeful, lustful king, who does nothing without carefully considering the consequences--unless, of course, it involves women, wives, and mistresses. In season three of The Tudors
, Henry has dispatched with bothersome second wife Anne Boleyn and has his eye set on the coolly lovely Lady Jane Seymour (Annabelle Wallis), who dies suddenly after the marriage. Henry then, mired in a giant battle with Rome and the Pope (Peter O'Toole, splendid as always), agrees to wed Anne of Cleves, in an attempt to gain Cleves as an ally in his battle against the Catholic Church. However, Henry does not find this Anne attractive (a little hard to buy, since she is played by the lovely and winsome singer Joss Stone). Much of this season weaves in the story of Henry's trying to figure out a way out of this politically important wedding and finding a new love interest. This season also finds rebellion in the north, as devout Catholics react to the king's demolition of their churches and statues. Henry, never one to take much personal responsibility, decides the rebellions are the fault of his loyal henchman, Thomas Cromwell (the coolly calculating James Frain), so fissures begin to appear within the king's inner circle as well. Into this cauldron of chaos wanders the lovely young wench Catherine Howard (Tamzin Merchant). Her beauty is bewitching, and what the king wants, the king gets. Rhys Meyers is riveting as King Henry, conveying entitlement, rage, calculation, regal vision, and venal lust in equal measure. He's still a handsome, trim specimen of a man, in a departure from history--and though the camera dutifully records his famous festering leg wound, its fetid stench is never mentioned, nor does it seem to inhibit young lovelies like Miss Howard. Meanwhile, Henry's daughter from his first marriage, Mary (Sarah Bolger), is already setting up future conflict in her devotion to Catholicism and her insistence on her birthright. For any fans of history, deep drama, and a powerful protagonist one can admire if not like, The Tudors
is a must-watch, and season three one of the best of the lot. --A.T. Hurley
From the Studio
Twenty seven years into his reign, Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is at the height of his powers. Not long after the execution of Anne Boleyn he takes a third wife - Jane Seymour (Annabelle Wallis), a woman with inner beauty and noble character whom he clearly loves and who has a calming effect on the King. But while her influence is welcomed by her new husband, her Catholic background causes disquiet and discomfort for Thomas Cromwell (James Frain), Henry’s most senior courtier and the ruthless driving force behind the English Reformation. Cromwell has one aim: to confiscate the moral authority and worldly goods of the Catholic Church.