What started as a casual I-can-take-it-or-leave-it interest in this show has turned into a full-blown obsession. It would be embarrassing for me to admit the length of marathons I've fit into my schedule to watch the adventures and misadventures of King Henry VIII. We are all familiar with the famous portrait of Henry - robust, stately, larger-than-life, both literal and figurative. However, Showtime has taken a new twist on this influential ruler by casting Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Matchpoint) to emphasize Henry's impetuous youth characterized by fits of anger, violence, self-aggrandizement, sexual conquests, and religious unrestraint. The exemplary cast includes Sam Neill (Cardinal Wolsey), Jeremy Northam (Thomas More), James Frain (Thomas Cromwell), and the stunning Natalie Dormer, who fully embodies the bewitching quality Anne Boleyn allegedly possessed. What the show lacks in historical accuracy it makes up for in engaging, multi-dimensional characters. I found myself both rooting for and against the same characters, relieved and disappointed when they are inevitably executed. It was also gratifying to see the story from the beginning to get a full picture of how and why things turned out the way they did. For now I need something to occupy my time while I wait for season three to be released. I'm thinking about looking into Starkey's Six Wives: the Queens of Henry VIII, Alison Weir's The Children of Henry VIII) or The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd.
Recommended by Leah Youse