The Tudors Review: It Burns! It Burns!

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Is it possible?  The King actually looks realistically old!  Those of you who have read my previous reviews know that I have had some issues with the aging makeup effects used in this show.  Tonight was a pleasant exception! 

Now that King Henry only has this episode and one more to live, the show has decided to make him really look like he is on his deathbed.  His hair and beard are now gray and his face and hands look appropriately spotty and craggy.  He peers through wire-rimmed glasses and looks disgusted by everything.

It struck me that Jonathan Rhys Meyers is sort of channeling Dick Van Dyke when he played the old banker in “Mary Poppins.”  Remember the creepy guy that scared Jane and Michael because he wanted their tuppens right before he slid all over the black and white checked floor?  That’s totally what the King is like now.

Earl of Surrey

The costume designers also seem to be making great use of the layered look.  All of the men on this show are covered in pounds and pounds of robes and furs.  They have puffed brocade sleeves and lace collars up to their chins.   I think this is another attempt to rapidly age the young and handsome cast.   That or they’re trying to cover up Jonathan Rhys Meyer’s beer bloat and extra pounds from his various stints in rehab.  You decide.

Speaking of channeling other actors, we saw it a little bit last episode but tonight it was confirmed: Jonathan Rhys Meyers appears to be copying Christian Bale’s Batman with his low husky voice.  I didn’t understand the purpose of the voice when Christian pulled it out and I don’t understand it anymore with King Henry.  Does anyone really talk this way unless they have major laryngitis?  Is a raspy voice supposed to be the sign of impending death or of someone on a major power trip?  It’s just painful to listen to.  Someone pass the guy a Ricola!

As usual, King Henry has a very low energy level.  Yes, I get that he is old and dying but it’s sort of comical too.  He is told all sorts of bad news and how does he respond?  With a sniff and an ever-so-slight shrug of the shoulders.  He responds to good news by grunting.  He looks like he wants to die as much as everyone around him wants him to die.

There was more torture in this episode!  I was wondering if the dreaded rack was ever going to make an appearance on this show.  That rack was the crown jewel of the tour of the Tower of London I took. It’s such a horrible concept:  Let’s pull somebody’s legs in one direction and their arms in the opposite direction until their joints pop out of their sockets!  Getting your fingernails pried off like Dereham did a few episodes ago would suck, don’t get me wrong, but literally being torn apart from the inside would definitely be worse.

As poor Anne Askew is getting yoinked around on the rack like a piece of silly putty in the hands of a three-year-old I just kept waiting for the horrible moment when we would hear a pop and she would scream even louder as her shoulder got dislocated or something.  Or maybe one of her hands would get ripped off.  I was plugging my ears just waiting but, fortunately, that didn’t happen. 

What did happen is that she got racked and then she took a little nap and then she got a bucket of water dumped in her face so she could be awake for further racking.  Then, once her body was pulled apart to all hell, she got tossed on top of a pile of dry wood and lit ablaze.  Oh, and with a bag of gunpowder around her neck.  Then she burned for a few minutes and screamed in total agony and then she blew up.  Alrighty then!

Anne Askew

I think burning must be the worst death, don’t you?  I’d rather get eaten by a shark than burned.  My family plays this game quite a bit, freaky as it may seem.  We’re like, “Would you rather get tossed into a Roman Coliseum full of ravenous lions or fall on a spike from a relatively low height?”  The death choices change each time we play. 

I will choose pretty much anything over burning.  And poor Anne got the rack and THEN she got burned!  Double bummer.

Question for you, readers:  Would you rather burn like Anne or get hanged, drawn, and quartered like Dereham?

Finally, I did want to say that escaping from prison back then looks pretty dang easy.  Surrey only had to move a couple of rocks and then jump down into the river that ran directly underneath his prison cell!  Too bad he made a shit-ton of noise as he was prying these rocks out of place.  The guards took one look through his little prison cell door portal and ran in to seize him as he tried to get away.  Too bad! 

I suppose we will next see him with his internal organs being pulled from his abdomen while he screams in pain.  And won’t that be just lovely?!

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Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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