About 6 months ago we discovered a couple of TV series through Netflix that I’ve never heard any buzz about. The first was The Tudors, a Showtime series that focuses on the life of Henry the 8th. Lush sets and costuming, strong writing, plenty of action (in and out of the bedroom) and great performances by Sam Neill, Jeremy Northam, Henry Cavill and other talented actors. They even managed to pull in Max von Sydow and Peter O’Toole! Jonathan Rhys Meyers really impressed me with his portrayal of the intensity and lust of the younger Henry. We snapped up the first season after watching a disk or 2, and bought the 2nd and 3rd soon after. Go ahead and get the entire set from Amazon–if you like one you’ll want them all.
The other series we’re currently enjoying is Rome, a production of HBO and BBC. It takes a much narrower view than The Tudors, presenting both the grandeur and squalor of the roman empire from the perspectives of two legion soldiers, Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus. It’s a familiar plot device, the two likable lads caught up in historical events far greater than their station, but actors Ray Stevenson and Kevin McKidd pull it off. The writing is tight, if suffering from hints of soap opera, and the first season has been enjoyable. We particularly enjoy the machinations of Ceasar’s niece Atia, played by the brazenly tasty Polly Walker.
I’ve always heard that writer’s prefer TV to feature films, since TV provides the scope for long term character development, while features are dominated by the influence of big name actors. The Tudors and Rome are enjoyable examples of good writers flexing their muscles. I have great hopes for A Game of Thrones (HBO) and The Borgia’s (Showtime). We’re not premium subscribers, but we’ll grab them as soon as we can.