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I learned a big chunk of my English history from the 1971 series of this same name(http://imdb.com/title/tt0066714/combined), and it still ranks as an awesome event, if only in memory now. This one, for all its merits, falls flat in comparison.
A few weeks ago I tuned into this newer series and was shocked at how dull and insipid it seemed compared to the great drama of the original. Decades on I can still remember the thunder of individual lines from the 1971 series ("Anne, Queen of England, come into the court!"), the cruel sight of Henry showing Jane the money-grubbing trickery used by the monks whom she loved, the poignant desperation of Anne of Cleves and the strength of Catherine Parr. There is little memorable in the 2001 version.
The great moments of conflict are not acted out passionately in this history. They are merely narrated, or original documents are read. How stale and unprofitable by comparison to the first great "The Six Wives of Henry VIII"! Although it may be unfair to compare a documentary series with a drama, the producers and the BBC invited the comparison with their choice of title. If the goal is to teach history and teach it so that it is remembered, this version fails the test against the standard set in 1971. PBS, give us back the original!
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