160 of 169 people found the following review helpful
I thoroughly enjoyed Season Three of "The Tudors." In my opinion, Jonathan Rhys Meyers gives his best performances ever as King Henry VIII. (Warning: the next few paragraphs contain details that some people may consider spoilerish, but seeing as how this is a retelling of British history, I'm sure most people know what's going to happen this season.)
At the start of Season Three, Henry is married to Jane Seymour, a gentle woman who thrills her husband by giving him a son. Unfortunately, Jane's reign as Queen of England is short-lived, and Henry soon finds himself mourning the only one of his wives thus far who he has truly loved (or at least been able to appreciate at the very end). The impertinent Thomas Cromwell then convinces Henry that a new marriage to Anne of Cleaves would benefit the country. Henry reluctantly goes through with the marriage, but never consummates the union because, according to him, his new bride "looks like a horse." It doesn't take long for Henry to tire of this marriage as well, and he passes the time in the company of the ditzy young Katherine Howard.
As all these romantic entanglements are taking place, England is threatened by rebels, Princess Mary becomes even more disenchanted with her unfortunate circumstances at court, and Thomas Cromwell becomes less and less popular, as members of the court desperately try to find a way to bring him down.
Overall, this was a fast-paced and entertaining season. I still miss the Anne Boleyn years, but "The Tudors" has managed to stay fresh and engaging. I don't see how this show can go on for more than another season, unless it continues after Henry's death, which would be a very interesting twist. Let's hope Showtime decides to go that route, because "The Tudors" could continue to reign for a very long time.
101 of 114 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2009
*This review is based upon the series as shown on cable network Showtime*
After the superlative season 2 of 'The Tudors' (which featured outstanding, Emmy-worthy performances by Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn and Jeremy Northam as Sir Thomas More), I was completely prepared for a "letdown" of sorts for series 3. After all, the true story (Henry VIII's marriage to Jane Seymour, birth of Prince Edward, death of Queen Jane and marriage to Anne of Cleves 2 years after that) goes at a relatively quick 4 years in English history. I was UNprepared for the economic downturn and PeaceArch's (the production company of 'The Tudors') decision to only have 8 episodes for 2009. If you thought seasons 1-2 were a whirlwind, prepare to be whip lashed by season 3.
Queen Jane's (Annabelle Wallis-in a replacement role from season 2's Anita Briem) relationship with Henry is so chaste and "pure," and he swears she is his most "beloved" queen (which he also claimed toward Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn). Unfortunately, Queen Jane dies of peripureal fever after giving birth to Prince Edward. Wallis's acting is measured-so measured in fact, you almost forget she is in the scene. She blends too well-unlike the performance given by Anne Stallybrass in the PBS production of 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII,' who captured the proper spirit of meekness and servitude necessary to BECOME Henry's 3rd wife.
Joss Stone as Anne of Cleves is a treat-although she is not featured enough in the series. Her scenes are few and far between, but she makes a fantastic impact (witness her scene with Lord Privy Seal Cromwell). There is a passion and fervor in her acting that is nothing but natural ability and talent. I look forward to seeing her more and hopefully she will be back in a guest starring role in season 4.
The gentlemen actors do acquit themselves beautifully. James Frain has been a purposeful, manipulative, charming and insecure Thomas Cromwell. His fall from grace is swift, merciless and ultimately degrading (spoiler-his execution is the MOST brutal and vindictive of any on 'The Tudors'). Henry Cavill is glossing into a solid actor-although the aging process for his Duke of Suffolk is not believable (he looks as though he is in his late 20's still-although the actor is only in his mid-20's). I have a complaint about Sir Francis Bryan though. Alan Von Sprang's portrayal is too lascivious, too voluptuous and thusly, mildly irritating. One can only hope he will not feature prominently for season 4.
Ultimately this season belongs and is owned by the king himself. I am continually amazed at the transformation Jonathan Rhys Meyers takes on as Henry VIII. Episode 5 (directly after Queen Jane's death) shows Henry and his Fool, Will Somers, locked in his chambers, drinking and reminiscing. The heartache, devastation and to some degree, hopelessness felt by Henry is palpable. This actor takes risks, doesn't hesitate to muck it up and make emotional vulnerability "ugly." Season 4 will end with his death, but Rhys Meyers has put his stamp on Henry VIII.
I have purposely not mentioned Katherine Howard (Tamzyn Merchant) because her story will be told in depth in season 4 (plus the portrayal was atrocious in the 3/4 of an episode she was in). This season was unsatisfying because it was too rushed, too condensed, too compacted. We can only pray for a return to the strength shown in season 2 for series 4. Overall, a 3-star effort ***.
47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2009
I am more than half way thru watching the 3rd season on Showtime. Although I am well aware that this is not necessarily based on historical accuracy I feel that a little more care could have taken in making the actors, especially Henry VIII character look their age and historical appearance in that particular time period. Henry, as well as his best friend look like they are stuck in a time warp being eternally in their 30's. Also it is well known that Henry VIII's weight already started to balloon after Jane Seymours death, whereas the actor as shown in the nearly nude scenes still has his perfect trim youthful body. Still an enjoyable and entertaining show -I wonder if it will end with Henry VIII death or will include further installments of Edward, Mary and Elizabeth I - after all they are Tudors, too.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2011
Tudors Season 3 is very good. I personally thought Season 2 was best, but Season 3 is certainly very good. The blu-ray video is excellent.
Fans of the show should not hesitate to buy this set. The imported blu-rays (either the "uncut" version from Canada, or the other version from the UK) play without problems in US blu-ray players.
A note about the "uncut" version: Some of the reviewers seem to be upset that the UK set is not labeled "uncut." I understand that the episodes are the same on both versions. The Canadian release is advertised as uncut because the episodes were edited for the original CBC broadcast in Canada. The uncut version is the same version that aired on Showtime in the USA. As a premium pay cable channel, Showtime was able to show the complete uncut episodes without concern about the adult content. (I learned this after a web search about why the Canadian release is called "uncut." I didn't want an edited version any more than the other reviewers.)
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2010
OK--I'm a pushover for anything about the Tudors, and I enjoyed season three. There are lots of problems, though, and very good points have already been made about them here, most usefully (in my opinion) by Jay Dickson in his three-star review. He and others have noted, for example, the irritating characterization of Sir Francis Bryan. True, the actual historical figure was nicknamed "The Vicar of Hell," but his portrayal in this series as a smirking, sex-obsessed, piratical bad boy was--well, boring, when it wasn't acutely annoying.
And no, it doesn't help that Henry VIII had the bad habit of beheading the most interesting, complex people in his circle one by one, so that by season three we've lost Sir Thomas More and Anne Boleyn and will, by the season's end, lose Cromwell too--a particularly fine performance by James Frain given the schizophrenically conceived part he was given to play, but of that more later.
First, though, I'd like to second Dickson's comment about how "awesomely miscast" Jonathan Rhys Meyers is as Henry. Indeed. This judgment is not a reflection on Meyers' acting talents, but rather his body type and ineradicable youthfulness, which are just plain wrong for the role. Of course, it's obvious why he was cast anyway: in this ratings-obsessed age, who wouldn't be able to predict the winner of the battle between an actor's six-pack and historical accuracy?
I wonder, though, if there isn't another reason many of us would prefer to watch a handsome, slim Henry than an aging, obese one. Could it be that we are less likely to be revolted by someone's deeds if he, or she, is good-looking? What difference does it make that, as they commit ever-more horrific crimes against humanity in this season, Henry and Suffolk are played by such stud-like actors? Here, by the way, I differ in one respect from Mr. Dickson, who says that he did not find the representation of the Pilgrimage of Grace compelling. I was riveted; I was also outraged. Watching the brutal repression of what was probably the largest populist movement in England prior to its civil war was downright agonizing at times. (I am happy to report, though, that the reality wasn't quite so horrific as portrayed; there were reprisals in villages, but as far as I can tell these targeted adult males, not women and children as depicted here.) Would we be more likely to turn off the TV in disgust if the perpetrators of such outrages were aging or unattractive?
I guess this is an inherent problem with dramatizations of the life of Henry VIII, not just with this production. If one doesn't present him as a monster--which, admittedly, is rather boring--then how does one present him? One needn't, of course, always "relate" to characters one watches, but it is harder to care about the rocky love life of tyrants than about those of more sympathetic folk. As Meyers bedded yet another mistress in the aftermath of the Pilgrimage, I found myself asking "Who cares?"
And what are we to make of Cromwell? I'm as shallow here as anyone--I found myself far more sympathetic to Frain's handsome Cromwell than to the actual historical figure, who, judging from his Holbein portrait, looked like a toad. A toad with cold little eyes. Here, too, we have a historical conundrum that extends beyond this production. Was Cromwell a heartless Machiavellian henchman or a sincere, even noble, reformer? This script tries to have it both ways, and Frain gamely gives the role his best try (and a very good try it is too). But it's hard to reconcile the contradictory evidence: in one scene, Cromwell is praying and sounding like a proto-democrat about the need of the common people to have direct access to God, and in another scene he's ordering Suffolk up north to slaughter as many common people as he can. Oh, and let's not forget that Cromwell was the master-mind behind the judicial murder of Anne Boleyn and those accused with her, and that he also circumvented jury trials to get convictions--an innovation that ended up recoiling on him, as he was condemned by the type of Act of Attainder he helped develop. So which side are we on, anyway? Or should I ask, which side of any one person are we on?
A few notes on the women. Joss Stone is a standout as Anne of Cleves, though of course much too pretty. But Stone does a wonderful job of portraying the fear and humiliation the historical woman must have felt. As for Jane Seymour: the problem is not, in my view, Annabelle Wallis's performance, but once again the conception of the role. Evidently the makers of the series had no idea how to interpret the character, so they resorted to a common stereotype by turning her into a paragon of saintly sweetness. This is hard to swallow. How do we account for Jane's behavior prior to Anne Boleyn's execution, when she was waiting in the wings for her rival's decapitation? The real Henry was said to have told Jane on the morning of Anne's trial that Anne would be condemned by afternoon--making it clear, just in case Jane had any doubts, that the whole thing was a farce. As the historian David Starkey says in his superb book _Six Wives_, Jane "showed no compunction in stepping to the throne over the headless corpse of her rival. Anne might _talk_of killing Catherine; the gentle Jane went further and was an accessory-after-the-fact to the judicial murder of her predecessor" (p. 591).
And Catherine Howard, dear heavens. I join with Mr. Dickson in fearing greatly for season four if it continues the outrageous caricature of this poor girl, historically a victim both of her families' greed and her culture's sexism. Yes, Catherine may have been, in Starkey's words, a "good-time girl," but she could not possibly have been--no one outside a porn movie could be--the airhead played by Tamzin Merchant. I was also appalled by the depiction of the Duchess of Northumberland's residence as a bawdy-house for illegitimate girls (a bawdy-house, unsurprisingly, to which the ever-annoying Sir Francis Bryan is sent as procurer). Of course none of this is accurate. Catherine did fool around, but the reason it was remembered was that not all the other girls did. And being sent away from home to a household like the Duchess's was not the plight of poor abandoned wenches but a standard part of training for boys and girls of the nobility; Anne Boleyn was sent as a young teenager to the continent for training. Finally, no one dangling Catherine before the king would do so with a known good-time girl: given the king's predilection for marrying English girls, one with a tarnished past could get into a lot of trouble after the fall of Anne Boleyn--and, moreover, take her patrons with her. As I remember, the Duke of Norfolk, Catherine's uncle and a major court player inexplicably excised from this series, was not in the king's good books after his niece's execution.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
With Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More, Katherine of Aragon, and Anne Boleyn all dead by the end of the second season of THE TUDORS, the best actors who did most of the heavy lifting for the series (Sam Neill, Jeremy Northam, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and Natalie Dormer) are all gone and unable to help the awesomely miscast Jonathan Rhys Meyer as Henry VIII with any of the heavy lifting, which bodes pretty dismally for the start of the third season of THE TUDORS. Unfortunately things aren't much helped by the casting of the inexpressive Annabel Wallis as Jane Seymour, the third of Henry's wives, or by the addition of a new important character by Alan von Sprang, named after--and only extremely loosely based on--Sir Francis Bryan, here conceived as a kind of studly head thug in the king's service who brutally chases down his enemies and couples with various court wenches in palace alcoves. The suppression of the Pilgrimage of Grace doesn't create much narrative interest, either, nor does the persecution of the family of Cardinal Pole (mostly we see lots of suffering people being executing in multiple creative ways with little explanation as to why, say, one should be sodomized with a red-hot poker, or why another should be hanged from a castle's walls wearing heavy chains). Frankly, I wouldn't have stuck around had I not been waiting to see how the Anne of Cleves marriage would be handled, but when Joss Stone enters as that German princess, everything comes to life again because of her great dignity as the awkward and poignant "Flanders mare" whom Henry rejects for not being attractive enough. Stone and Sarah Bolger, as the complex and careful Princess Mary, are the only two actors who deserve any honors for their performances: we can be grateful they will figure importantly into the fourth and final season of this series. (On the other hand, we have much to dread given the already annoying performance of the simpering Tamzin Merchant, who plays Henry's fifth wife, Catherine Howard, as if she were playing Nomi Malone in SHOWGIRLS.) The series suffers more gravely than ever by this season from the producers' ghastly decision to envision the Tudor court as motivated entirely by lusts for sex and power (in that order), and Rhys Meyer is pretty much a complete embarrassment by this point. When his Henry VIII confers with his bishops as to the central tenets of Anglican doctrine, or designs Nonesuch Palace while sequestered after the death of Jane Seymour, it's simply unbelievable. By this point we're pretty much just ticking off the wives one by one until they're all gone; one wonders whether the producers will finally have the common sense to make Henry VIII obese and old by the final season (there are many displays here even still of Rhys Meyer's perfect sixpack).
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2009
While the first two seasons presented King Henry VIII as a young, hedonistic king, Season 3 gives viewers a unique opportunity to consider, historically, what may have been if he had been a less capricious and more morally serious and intellectually-principled statesman.
What sort of king could Henry VIII have been if the gentle, tolerant and politically savvy Jane Seymour had remained long enough to exert substantive influence on her husband? Perhaps he would have been compared to a middle-age Solomon as opposed to a Dionysian - "Neroesque" figure.
What would have happened if the King hadn't eventually turned on his trusted advisor, Thomas Cromwell (and ultimately engineered his economic and political destruction)? Conversely, what would have happened if Henry had rid of himself of Cromwell sooner? Would there still have been an uprising against the king? Would the bloodshed that resulted from those uprising been averted?
For those of you who have watched Seasons 1 and 2, it is interesting to contrast Cromwell's gradual and humiliating fall from grace with the swift, cool and profoundly dignified dismantling of his intellectual, philosophical and political rival, Sir Thomas More.
Jane Seymour and Thomas Cromwell are presented in the season 3 as Henry VIII's super ego (his always self-conscious angels) and id (the demons which seems to grow ever stronger as the King's youthful vitality slips away).
King Henry's story is quickly coming to a close. Cumulatively, the King had six wives. The fourth and fifth wives of the King are introduced in this season--- there is Anne of Cleves who makes a brief and powerful impression on the viewer (she is essentially the Protestant version of Catherine of Aragon -- which may explain the King's visceral reaction to her) and Katherine Howard, who is presented as such a cipher that she makes virtually no impression at all.
I am extremely impressed with this series. Even those who are not well-versed in history know what transpired during the Tudors' reign. But this show somehow manages to maintain a fresh perspective on said events.
Season 3 is a must-see.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2010
Love the first two seasons of The Tudors, but I feel season 3 was a bit of a letdown.
A few reasons:
1)Only 8 episodes instead of 10
2)No subtitles (I seem to understand the story more when I can read the names and such)
3)Not much for special features
4)Storytelling seems way more rushed
It's still good TV, but I think the series took a step back.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2009
I thought season 3 did an admirable job of covering a lot of ground in a short time. I say short, because it is the shortest season yet with 8 episodes instead of the 10 episode seasons 1 & 2. I kept waiting for the last 2, until I finally accepted the fact that they ended the season with the dubious introduction of Katherine Howard.
In season 3 you begin to more fully see the transition of Henry from an energetic youth of passion and intellectual promise to an irritable tyrant. His ego, always his greatest obstacle, becomes more pronounced as he dismisses Anne of Cleaves as looking 'like a horse' and refuses to fully recognize her as his queen, ultimately dissolving the marriage. His leg injury continues to grow more septic, lending to his lack of athleticism and irritability, and with Thomas Moore dead he has no one close to him to temper his passions. Cromwell's fall from favor is rapid and severe, largely due to his self-interested advocation of Anne of Cleaves.
The Tudors is , first and foremost, good entertainment, and should not be embraced as historically accurate (a common criticism that I've seen). It paints the history of Henry VIII with broad strokes, capturing the spirit of the events with dramatic license. I look forward to seeing the continued transition of Henry into the gluttonous despot he is widely remembered as, as well as the continued parade of failed marriages.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2009
My favorite season so far! Even with only 8 episodes as opposed to the average 10, The Tudors continues to 'Wow' me! Season Three introduces The Seymours, a ambitious family now royality, are a treat to watch! Queen Jane, portrayed by Annabelle Wallis, is a lovely character who you really become attached too. This season also welcomes back Mary Tudor, portrayed by Sarah Bolger, who's struggle is portrayed beautifully, and is often heart wrenching. The cast is packed with it's all stars, JRM, Henry Cavil, and James Frain, who give wonderfully portrayals. Frain and Meyers stepping up inparticular.
While the show is still as innacurate as ever, it's beyond entertaining and fun to watch, besides it's not a documentary, it's a drama, and it's chalked full of it! I definately recommend buying this season!