Six Wives of Henry VIII, The
DVD | Box Set
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A chronicle of England's turbulent years of the early 16th century recounting the life and times of the vibrant and lusty King Henry VIII in a cycle of six plays. Stars Keith Michell in his Emmy Award-winning performance as Henry VIII and features a 90-minute "bonus drama", The Other Boleyn Girl, based on the popular Philippa Gregory novel.
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Top Customer Reviews
These vignettes of 90 minutes are presented as plays and, thus, those used to the modern special effects movies may have to adjust your expectations. These are well worth watching and have historical value in terms of teaching.
I have read in other reviews complaints as to the quality of the DVD. In my set, the picture and sound are crisp and clear as a bell. Several of those reviews were from much earlier and this DVD set was released in 2011, so possibly they cleaned up the original with new technology.
That said, this DVD production is downright awful. Most annoying is how the audio leveling is simply non-existent. Keep the remote handy when watching because you'll have the volume at "100" for one exchange and "50" for the next - within the same scene. It's very, very, very annoying. I have no doubt that the problem came from the BBC trying to go single mic on some of these scenes back in the day to save money - but with today's digital technology rectifying this deficiency should pose no problem.
Further, picture quality is consistent - as in consistently awful. Other reviewers have said that it looks like a bad PAL video to DVD conversion and I have to agree with them. Again digitizing and remastering the source video (the original was clearly a video to film conversion as was common back then) to improve the picture quality would be no problem IF the BBC wanted to invest the money to do so. Apparently they don't, and we all suffer for it.Thanks alot Beeb!
Last but not least is the meager "Special Features" disc which should rightly be renamed, "Worthless Features". There's nothing here that one can't already find on IMDB or Wikipedia in a richer, more appealing format.And since we were already consulting these sources as we were watching that proved Disc 4 worthless with the exception of the one (that's 1) documentary.
We watched this on the tail end of watching the I, Claudius (35th Anniversary Edition) and the differences couldn't have been more striking. One can only wonder how and why the BBC could do such a fabulous job on the I, Claudius DVDs and such a hack job on the Six Wives of Henry VIII. It's rather heartbreaking.
In the end, if you will watch this with your phone or tablet so you can consult Wikipedia whenever you feel lost or confused by the subplots or story line you will learn a lot - we did. In the end I recommend this production for the performances and the education - it's worth suffering through these horrible DVDs to get them.
This is an excellent series from an acting perspective. No one is weak. Keith Michell and all six wife actors are superb, and the supporting actors no less so. Henry's daughter Elizabeth was a far more complex character, so the Elizabeth R series is more intriguing. But, again, the Six Wives will not disappoint.
For some reason, the sets seem to improve as the series progresses, with some backdrops obviously a simple scrim. Henry's costumes outshine all the others. Perhaps this distinction is purposeful in establishing Henry's comparatively ebullient personality. But, the overall costuming is interesting and adequately establishes suspension of disbelief. These are, after all, plays filmed for television.
It is great fun to watch and rewatch this series for all the historical references. A few time throughout the series, though, this creates some tedium.
Several of the actors carry over their roles in the Elizabeth R series. You will recognize Rosalie Crutchley as the caretaker's wife in the wonderful, original movie of The Haunting. And, a number of the actors also play in the I Claudius series, another one I highly recommend.
I was a bit wary purchasing the Six Wives of Henry VIII because I love the Elizabeth R series so much. But, I am glad I did.