Why I Should Binge-Watch The Tudors

The Tudors, Season 4, Showtime, Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, Joss Stone as Anne of Cleves, Julie Richardson as Catherine Parr, Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII, Tamzin Merchant as Katherine Howard, Annabelle Wallis as Jane Seymour, and Maria Doyle Kennedy as Queen Katherine (Season 4) - Photo: Courtesy of Showtime/Showtime - Photo ID: tudors_gal4_kal_horizontal_c

WHAT IS The Tudors ABOUT?

A period drama and historical fiction series that centers around the not so real-life King Henry the VIII of England. Much of the series focuses on Henry’s six wives and his desperation for a male heir. Although this is a fictional representation of the life and time of the Tudor monarchy, there is mostly truth with some small changes to make the story move along better or create better drama. The names and places seem accurate but things are not told exactly how they happened. The characters have been aged down to make the drama more sexy and appealing to a younger audience. It is not until the last episodes that the king will show his age a bit more accurately.

How do you do right by a king? Especially by a king that changes ever so frequently? And well, let’s face it, the Tudors had a lot of real-life drama!

Original TV Home: Showtime

Number Of Seasons: 4 (April 2007 – June 2010)

Season One, 10 episodes

Season Two, 10 episodes

Season Three, 8 episodes

Season Four, 10 episodes

Total Episodes / Time Table: 38 Episodes (48 to 58 minutes each) = approx. 34 hours

Viewing Strategy:

There are a few ways to complete the series. All of the seasons are 10 episodes except Season 3 (8 episodes). If you watch two episodes a night, you can complete the entire series in 19 days. Another strategy would be to finish the first season in one weekend and then watch 2 or 3 episodes a night after that.

Begin why is it binge worthy section

WHY IS IT BINGE WORTHY? Top Up arrow

There is so much drama in history and real life. This story stands the test of time. King Henry VIII is arguably one of history’s most notorious monarchs and Tudors. I have always been intrigued by scandals and secrets. Although we all know that Showtime has taken some creative liberty, I can appreciate the research and writing they have done with the series. I also appreciate the reimagining they have done to make it appeal to a more youthful audience. Each episode leaves you wanting more and the eye candy is a plus.

WHO’S IN IT? Top Up arrow

Jonathan Rhys Meyers (King Henry VIII): The main character and center of the series is made much younger than the real-life King Henry VIII was at these times in his life. Meyers definitely is good at throwing a temper tantrum and seducing his current love interest. At some moments you can feel for him and at other times you just can’t help but hate him. Is he the villain or the hero? You decide.

Henry Cavill (Charles Brandon): You may remember Cavill as Superman. His good looks and cavalier attitude make him an actor worth watching. As the series progresses, he becomes more of a pivotal character.

Maria Doyle Kennedy (Queen Catherine of Aragon): Well, most of us know the outcome of all of Henry’s tragic marriages, but Kennedy plays her role well. You pity her and sort of wish she would just take the easy way out.

Sam Neill (Cardinal Thomas Wolsey): Sam Neill is unforgettable in Jurassic Park, for one, but he has been in many other great movies and is compelling in this series. His desperation to please the king to no avail is compelling. You can never please the king and the church.

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Natalie Dormer (Anne Boleyn): You may know her more recently as Margaery Tyrell from Game of Thrones. She is smoldering and definitely a seductress. Was she talked into loving the king or was it true love? Love is political, it seems, for much of this series. But you will see Anne fall for the king and truly believe he is hers.

Other characters: Nick Dunning (Thomas Boleyn), Jeremy Northam (Sir Thomas More), James Frain (Thomas Cromwell), Jamie Thomas King (Thomas Wyatt), Peter O’Toole (Pope Paul III), Joss Stone (Anne of Cleves), Tamzin Merchant (Catherine Howard), Max Brown (Edward Seymour), Joely Richardson (Catherine Parr), Anthony Brophy (Ambassador Bishop Chapuys), Sarah Bolger (Mary Tudor), Simon Ward (Bishop Gardiner), Annabelle Wallis (Jane Seymour)

WHERE IS IT NOW? Top Up arrow

Amazon Prime / Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Netflix. Also available on DVD and Blu-ray (each season available via individual box sets; all four seasons also available in one collective box set).

MUST SEES … Top Up arrow

Pilot/In Cold Blood (Season 1, Episode 1): The pilot episode sets the stage for a lot of the background for the entire series. Many characters are introduced and we see that they are using a younger, more attractive version of King Henry than we are used to.

His Majesty, the King (Season 1, Episode 4): In the previous episode, the king has Charles Brandon escort his sister Margaret to Portugal where she is to marry the elderly and disgusting king of Portugal. We see how all marriages in the Tudor family are political and made in Henry’s favor. Just wait and see how Margaret gets out of this one.

The Death of Wolsey (Season 1, Episode 10): After so much struggle to get an annulment for the king, Wolsey is exiled to York and now desperately tries to get help from the Roman Emperor, Queen Catherine and the Pope. The king is sure to get word of his treason, right? Wolsey is taken to the tower to await trial. This is where history and TV differ, but it is great TV! And will Henry finally get physical with Anne Boleyn? The drama is palpable.

Checkmate (Season 2, Episode 3): A lot happens in this episode and it feels like many years have gone by at this point. Princess Mary has aged quite a bit and Lady Anne is now Queen Anne. The kingdom doesn’t really acknowledge Anne and the Pope definitely does not. King Henry is threatened with excommunication. Queen Anne has promised the child she is carrying is a boy. Can Anne deliver on the promise she has made?

Lady in Waiting (Season 2, Episode 8): This episode seems to be the turning point for Anne and Henry. With another miscarriage suffered by Anne, Henry has lost all favor with her and plans to take another wife. The Lady Jane Seymour has struck his fancy and if we know Henry, he will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

Destiny and Fortune (Season 2, Episode 10): Anne’s execution is put off over and over again due to the executioner being late. They have hired the best they can. Anne really outdoes herself and gracefully Season 2 episode 10takes her death in stride. I don’t think I could be so content. Shockingly, Anne’s father gets quite a different punishment. He is just slimy. But the best is Anne’s speech on the executioner’s block: She still loves the king. Peace at last, we all hope, comes for Anne. The thing that kind of gets me is the king in the end eating a pie out of a swan. The swan is meant to represent his new life and being reborn, but you kind of feel like the swan represents Anne and the innocence that was killed just for the king’s pleasure.

The Death of a Queen (Season 3, Episode 4): Henry has endured many obstacles in his reign. He is now faced with the possible loss of either his queen or his son. The queen’s labor has been difficult and she is left with a fever. Henry finally has a son to continue the Tudor reign. This is all he has ever wanted. But Queen Jane has suffered greatly to bring little Prince Edward into the world. We can actually see that there is some heart and feeling in the king as he begs for her to not leave him.

Protestant Anne of Cleves (Season 3, Episode 7): Henry is introduced to Anne of Cleves and he does not like her at all. We have no idea what the real Anne of Cleves looked like but I am shocked that Henry would think this Anne of Cleves played by Joss Stone was that hideous. I think Henry should think twice before getting too upset. Why would anyone want to marry him? He does not have a great track record with the wives, and his leg is slowly rotting away. Cromwell is pretty much being blamed for the terrible match and all the royal advisers are pushing the idea to get rid of Cromwell.

Season 3 episode 8

The Undoing of Cromwell (Season 3, Episode 8): How quickly things turn in the Tudor reign. One minute you are the king’s most loyal and trusted adviser, but when he is done with you, well, he is done with you, which usually ends in beheading. We see that someone has to take the blame for the horrible match for the king. Cromwell is taken to the tower and is ordered to write a letter to get Henry out of his marriage. This is his last task. Anne of Cleves is now considered the king’s sister and all is well, at least for her. Cromwell’s last minutes are excruciating and horrid, but drama at its finest.

Moment of Nostalgia (Season 4, Episode 1): Henry has taken a new wife, Catherine Howard. She seems to have the youth and energy the king longs to have back in his life. She also seems to be the object all the men at court lust after and she is good at helping them along with their fantasies. Disturbingly, the king’s groom Culpepper’s lust is the strongest, and he hatches a scheme.

Natural Ally (Season 4, Episode 4): Queen Catherine has continued her affair with Culpepper who she now swears she is in love with. If it were not enough to fear for her life, her ex-lover and childhood companion Francis Dereham arrives at court and blackmails the queen into giving him a position. He cares little for hiding the fact that he knows the queen intimately and is really just an ass. Will they all be discovered?

Season 4 episode 5

Bottom of the Pot (Season 4, Episode 5): Francis Dereham is tortured most brutally and confesses that he knows about Culpepper and the queen. Lady Rochford is questioned and confesses her knowledge of the liaison between them as well. Queen Catherine is stripped of her title and her jewels. Catherine is questioned by the bishop and she divulges her relations with Dereham, although she says he raped her and it was not consensual. Henry vows to torture her for her betrayal. Lady Rochford goes crazy from the torment of her sins. Henry declares that parliament must make it legal to execute an insane person so he can execute Lady Rochford as well. The executions of all are brutal and most disturbing.

Sixth and the Final Wife (Season 4, Episode 7): Catherine Parr becomes Henry’s last wife just before he plans to go to war with France. Catherine is left as regent in Henry’s place. There are rumors throughout the kingdom that Catherine Parr is a Protestant and this upsets Bishop Gardiner.

Death of a Monarchy (Season 4, Episode 10): Queen Catherine Parr is accused of being a heretic and Bishop Gardiner wishes to have her arrested and sent to the tower. He has tried to pit the king against her. The king is getting weak and his health is suffering. The subject of a successor is in the forefront. With Mary and Elizabeth returned to the line of succession, Mary feels that she shall rightfully be next in line over her brother. She has vowed to return the country to Catholicism. The Duke of Suffolk is summoned by the king, but he too is gravely ill. Henry is haunted by the ghost of his dead wives. Just before he dies he says goodbye to his wife and children.

MOST SHOCKING EPISODES Top Up arrow

Because The Tudors does not follow history exactly to the letter, we do find ourselves surprised by a few unexpected moments. And it is kind of interesting to see how one would interpret the conversations that were held between major figures in history!

His Majesty, the King (Season 1, Episode 4): In the previous episode, the king has Charles Brandon escort his sister Margaret to Portugal where she is to marry the elderly and disgusting king of Portugal. We see how all marriages in the Tudor family are political and made in Henry’s favor. Just wait and see how Margaret gets out of this one.

 

The Death of Wolsey (Season 1, Episode 10): After so much struggle to get an annulment for the king, Wolsey iSeason 1 episode 10s exiled to York and now desperately tries to get help from the Roman Emperor, Queen Catherine and the Pope. The king is sure to get word of his treason right? Wolsey is taken to the tower to await trial. This is where history and TV differ, but it is great TV! And will Henry finally get physical with Anne Boleyn? The drama is palpable.

 

Destiny and Fortune (Season 2, Episode 10): Anne’s execution is put off over and over again due to the executioner being late. They have hired the best they can. Anne really outdoes herself and gracefully takes her death in stride. I don’t think I could be so content. Shockingly, Anne’s father gets quite a different punishment. He is just slimy. But the best is Anne’s speech on the executioner’s block: She still loves theSeason 2 episode 10 king. Peace at last, we all hope, comes for Anne. The thing that kind of gets me is the king in the end eating a pie out of a swan. The swan is meant to represent his new life and being reborn, but you kind of feel like the swan represents Anne and the innocence that was killed just for the king’s pleasure.

The Death of a Queen (Season 3, Episode 4): Henry has endured many obstacles in his reign. He is now faced with the possible loss of either his queen or his son. The queen’s labor has been difficult and she is left with a fever. Henry finally has a son to continue the Tudor reign. This is all he has ever wanted. But Queen Jane has suffered greatly to bring little Prince Edward into the world. We can actually see that there is some heart and feeling in the king as he begs for her to not leave him.

 

The Undoing of Cromwell (Season 3, Episode 8): How quickly things turn in the Tudor reign. One minute you are the king’s most loyal and trusted adviser, but when he is done with you, well, he is done with you, which usually ends in beheading. We see that someone has to take the blame for the horrible match for the kinSeason 3 episode 8g. Cromwell is taken to the tower and is ordered to write a letter to get Henry out of his marriage. This is his last task. Anne of Cleves is now considered the king’s sister and all is well, at least for her. Cromwell’s last minutes are excruciating and horrid, but drama at its finest.

 

 

Bottom of the Pot (Season 4, Episode 5): Francis Dereham is tortured most brutally and confesses that he knows about Culpepper and the queen. Lady Rochford is questioned and confesses her knowledge of the liaison between them as well. Queen Catherine is stripped of her title and her jewels. Catherine is questioned by the bishop and she divulges her relations with Dereham, although she says he raped her anSeason 4 episode 5d it was not consensual. Henry vows to torture her for her betrayal. Lady Rochford goes crazy from the torment of her sins. Henry declares that parliament must make it legal to execute an insane person so he can execute Lady Rochford as well. The executions of all are brutal and most disturbing.

Death of a Monarchy (Season 4, Episode 10): Queen Catherine Parr is accused of being a heretic and Bishop Gardiner wishes to have her arrested and sent to the tower. He has tried to pit the king against her. The king is getting weak and his health is suffering. The subject of a successor is in the forefront. With Mary and Elizabeth returned to the line of succession, Mary feels that she shall rightfully be next in line over her brother. She has vowed to return the country to Catholicism. The Duke of Suffolk is summoned by the king, but he too is gravely ill. Henry is haunted by the ghost of his dead wives. Just before he dies he says goodbye to his wife and children.

THAT LINE WAS SO GREAT… Top Up arrow

If the lion knows his own strength, no man could control him.”

– Sir Thomas More, From The Death of Wolsey (Season 1, Episode 10)

“You are the milk of human kindness, the light in my dark, dark world. Without you life is a desert, a howling wilderness. Please, God, in your mercy, don’t take her away from me.”

      – King Henry VIII , From

The Death of a Queen

    (Season 3, Episode 4)

“I have come here to die. I die a queen, but I would rather die the wife of Culpepper.”

— Queen Catherine Howard, From Bottom of the Pot (Season 4, Episode 5)