The Tudors: The Complete Fourth Season

The Tudors: The Complete Fourth Season
There's a reason The Tudors doesn't appear on the History Channel; it takes many liberties with historical accuracy for the sake of a good storyline, plus it throws in a healthy dose of sex for good measure. But considering that Henry VIII only had so many wives and ruled for just so long, it was inevitable it was all going to come to an end one day and this fourth season is where it all comes tumbling down. The problem is that most of the really interesting figures from Henry's reign are long gone by the time wife number five comes along. There are no more theological battles with the Pope and the supporting cast of advisors are lacking the might of earlier seasons where Sam Neill and Peter O'Toole's performances were so vital. Instead, the first half of the fourth season focuses on Katherine Howard's affair with Thomas Culpepper and other past indiscretions, stretching a small amount of plot so thin no amount of torture and sex scenes can save it. Things do improve somewhat when final wife Catherine Parr enters the picture, but the show slowly peters out, ending with a bit of whimper. As in all the other seasons, Jonathan Rhys Meyers' performance is wonderfully fiery, even as Henry ages, and remains one of the main reasons for watching the show. Tazmin Merchant and Joely Richardson each bring something different to their portrayals of their queens, with Merchant's childlike naivety being a complete contrast to the intellectual complexity of Richardson. The Tudors also continues to look lush and sumptuous, with its incredible costumes and sets ― in this season, these help distract from the more pedestrian moments. The show is presented in its uncut form, more in line with the version shown on Showtime in the States rather than the more wholesome CBC cut. There is a decent selection of extras provided, with the most notable being 70 minutes of interviews with the show's creator, Michael Hirst, and also with Rhys Meyer, Richardson and Henry Cavill, who played Charles Brandon in all four seasons. The main focus in all the interviews is the historical aspects of the show, and it helps to add some background for the uninitiated. There are also some deleted scenes, a blooper reel and a short documentary on the 500th anniversary of Hampton Court, Henry VIII's palace in London, and the Tower of London, where many of the figures in the show were executed. (Phase 4)