The Virgin Queen explores the full sweep of Elizabeth's life: from her days of fear as a potential victim of her sister's terror; through her great love affair with Robert Dudley; into her ... See full summary »
A wide-ranging, energetic period piece tracing the rise of the Protestant Henry of Navarre as he goes from battlefield warrior to France's beloved King Henri IV. Director Jo Baier's epic is... See full summary »
When Elizabeth Tudor comes to the throne, her (male) advisers know she has to marry. Doesn't she? Thus starts a decades-long political/ matrimonial game, during an age of high passions and high achievement.
The death of King Henry VIII throws his kingdom into chaos because of succession disputes. His weak son Edward, is on his deathbed. Anxious to keep England true to the Reformation, a ... See full summary »
Helena Bonham Carter,
The focus of King Charles II is his court, his squabbling family and his glamorous mistresses - from the high-born and promiscuous Barbara Villiers through folk heroine and sex symbol of the day Nell Gwynne to the French spy Louise de Keroualle. It is an original take on a historical period written by award-winning screenwriter Adrian Hodges, whose credits include David Copperfield and The Lost World, which penetrates to the heart of the charismatic monarch who was deeply traumatised by the execution of his father. Written by
First, those of you who watched this as a three-hour movie with 30 commercial breaks must have seen a royally butchered cut as the R2 DVD is four hour-long episodes.
Second, those who claim that the BBC are not as good as they used to be are, perhaps, not quite fair, but not totally wrong either. I imagine they are comparing Charles II to Elizabeth R; I, Claudius; or The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and yes, it's not as good as they were. But then, neither were the other series the BBC were making at that time.
But if such comparisons are not entirely fair, they are also inevitable. Elizabeth, Six Wives and Claudius were televised plays. They worked due to the interaction of great scripts and great acting. The costumes were icing on the cake; the direction and camera work were capable but never drew attention to themselves. These teleplays continued a dramatic tradition traceable back to Shakespeare. They were *plays*.
Charles II, on the other hand, as well as other historical dramas done by the BBC these days, has abandoned its dramatic lineage for cinematic aspirations, especially as technology becomes more affordable. I don't consider this a bad thing, though I do think it failed, just as many teleplays of the golden era failed in their attempts. There's nothing wrong with bringing direction, camerawork, production design, etc. to the fore. Unfortunately, the scripts suffer, at least in this case. The viewer is innundated with flashy techniques like handheld cameras which achieve nothing other than making the show look modern, or a seven-minute long single take near the end of the final episode which contained about three minutes of dialogue that actually advanced the plot or developed the character in meaningful ways.
Is it worth watching? Yes. But don't compare it the greatest costume dramas ever made. Take it for what is, and it's a fine drama.
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