The Tudors presents the rarely dramatized, tumultuous early years of King Henry VIII’s nearly 40 year, omnipotent reign (1509-1547). In addition to his famous female consorts and 20+ year marriage to Catherine of Aragon to the infamous dalliance with Anne Boleyn, the series delves in to Henry’s most notable political relationship and the deconstruction of the Roman Catholic Church in England.
Henry VIII is not in a very good humor in the final season of The Tudors, despite the fact that much of England and Western Europe has been bent to his will. But that means only that this season of The Tudors is just as captivating and engrossing as the three preceding it. By this time, King Henry (the always excellent Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is restive, facing ongoing rebellion in the north of England, and fissures in his own family and among his own children. Well, that's what you get when you have multiple children from different wives, and new declarations of who's the rightful heir and who's banished to the Tower. Season four focuses on Henry's declining health--and while Rhys Meyers has been padded a bit in a nod to reality, he still looks handsome and fetching, nothing like the squat, obese martinet depicted in official royal portraits. This season of The Tudors also focuses on King Henry's final two wives, and the actors who play them are among the best thing in the entire season. Young vixen Catherine Howard (Tamzin Merchant) probably never stood a chance, and was outwitted in court and played like a pawn by the king's advisers. Ultimately, Howard pays the ultimate price for having had the indecency to have had a bit of a past well before she wed the king. Enter wife No. 6, Catherine Parr (the truly regal Joely Richardson), who is perhaps finally the king's match intellectually and politically. Twice widowed when she captured the eye of the king at age 31, Parr was originally asked to marry by Thomas Seymour (Andrew McNair), the brother of the king's earlier wife Jane Seymour. But when King Henry proposed, Parr agrees--and, because of her earnest intellectual curiosity and embracing of the new Church of England, sets in motion the final dramas of Henry's life. The conniving and plotting are never over for The Tudors, though King Henry, after a pretty good run, finally meets his end. The Tudors is so satisfying, however, that one wishes it would continue and follow the lives of Henry's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. There could be many more entrancing years of history writ large. The Tudors: The Final Season includes several episodes from other Showtime series, including United States of Tara, Dexter, and Episodes, but alas, no extras related specifically to The Tudors. --A.T. Hurley