The Tudors (2007–2010)
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Problems in the Reformation 

While a grieving Henry remains in seclusion with his fool coming to grips with Jane's death, court intrigue turns to political assassination in his absence.




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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Brandon
Sir Francis Bryan
Cardinal Von Waldburg
Mary Tudor
Edward Seymour
Lady Ursula Misseldon
Cardinal Reginald Pole
Bishop Gardiner
Ambassador Bishop Chapuys
Seamus Moran ...
Karl Shiels ...
Packington's Killer


Devastated by Jane's death, Henry locks himself away, drawing fantasy palaces, with caustic court jester Will Sommers as his sole companion. Edward is brought up in maximum security at Hampton Court, whilst Henry's daughters move to the country. Pole continues to escape Bryan's assassination attempts and takes sanctuary with Cardinal Von Waldberg but in England courtiers are being murdered and Brandon, still afflicted by the massacre of the Pilgrimage of Grace, blames Cromwell. Emerging from seclusion the king presents his "six articles" for the basis of a new,revised church. To Cromwell's dismay they resemble a thinly-veiled return to Roman Catholicism. Henry has a last tumble with Lady Ursula, who leaves the court to be wed. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Drama | History | Romance | War


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Release Date:

3 May 2009 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Henry's inclusion of the doxology on the Lord's Prayer, "For Thine is the Kingdom..." is ambiguous. Cromwell had earlier said that the King was rewriting the Lord's Prayer. Henry did not write it. A doxology is a short hymn-like verse exalting the glory of God used to conclude a prayer. This doxology was not part of the original Lord's Prayer but was common in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire. After the Great Schism the Eatern half of Christendom became the Greek Orthodox Church based in Constantinople while the Roman Catholic Western half based in Rome never included the doxology. When Tyndale's English version of the Bible did not include it in 1525, Henry was still in communion with the Catholic Church, but the scene shown here reflects his edict of 1541. See more »


Cromwell confides to Rich that Henry's six points for the Church of England and the doxology added to the Lord's Prayer spell the end of the Protestant Reformation in England, he is incorrect about the doxology, which is a contradiction of Roman Catholic doctrine. See more »


King Henry VIII: Well, what do you think?
Court Fool: I don't think! Are you mad? Thinking is dangerous... but I'll wink.
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The Tudors Main Title Theme
Written by Trevor Morris
Performed by Trevor Morris
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User Reviews

The fools of Henry VIII and King Lear
23 March 2013 | by See all my reviews

Do we sometimes decide that things look like Shakespeare because they are or do we try to make things look like Shakespeare because we can?

In season three, Henry fresh off lopping the head off the woman he created a religion to marry, finds a new girl, who dies and he is sad; being a king is hard.

Which brings us to Episode Five

Henry secludes himself with Will Somers, the fool played by David Bradley (the one from Harry Potter not the country music superstar).

The fool's first line: "I don't think - are you mad - thinking is dangerous. But I'll wink."

Sound familiar?

When watching this episode I kept saying, 'Lear!'

Wait a second, maybe it was me that was going crazy.

Here me out.

The 'mad' king Henry finds comfort with his fool after the death of Queen Jane (3 of 6). Henry rants about building a castle that will be the envy of all the world and draws on the floor; oh the vanity of kings. The fool mocks the king (naturally); a king all rightly fear. The fool says what all else want to (should?) say. The fool has a handful of scenes, but finds ways to deconstruct the entire series to that point in them.

Consider this exchange.

Fool, "You find the perfect wife. She's sweet, pliable, she even has good t*ts. On top of that she gives you the son you've always wanted and you let her die...And she's not the only one, poor abandoned Katherine." King, "Careful" Fool, "And that other one, who's name escapes me...As her head escaped her. All lost! All lost!" Henry, "Go to hell." Fool, "What? Go there? I thought I'd already arrived."

The Tudors' fool as well as Lear's function on a different plane than the rest of the cast. The fools are not bound by the laws of decency censorship or tact. This dropping of curtains pushes both the play and show. Henry VIII and Lear are disrobed and their insecurities are played on. This is why we love us some fool. They say such cool things, and they GET AWAY WITH IT. To be a fool and not king would be oh so great thing (I just made that up).

Somers never returns in the series, and we are left with a very singular episode that is unlike all the others. The plot moves on in the other scenes, but it is the scenes with the fool that define the identity of Henry's character. They move the show beyond plot, and embrace character. One thing I despise about many TV shows is there obsession with just chugging the plot along in a series of twists and turns that lead nowhere (sheesh 24 got stupid).

The success of the Tudors is the success of its characters. I was not prepared to like this show, but did as it went on. Season three, episode five turns the plot yes, but not in a gaudy, awkward way. It just moves the character(s).

I've always thought that there is a lot of Henry VIII in Lear. Both have three kids, both have issues with them, and both are erratic and grapple with madness and tyranny. I like the comparison, and this episode shows how the comparison can work if done right. Shakespeare, as all living at his time, must have been tempted to slide a little Henry into his plays. He was not far removed after all.

The final scene of episode five seals it for me. The fool sits on Henry's throne wearing a crown maniacally laughing after Henry has just destroyed Cromwell's reformation and rewritten the Lord's prayer.

Very very nice.

Very Lear.

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