At the center of the story is Augustus Melmotte, a European-born city financier, whose origins are as mysterious as his business dealings. Trollope describes him as 'something in the city',... See full summary »
18th-century England and Ireland viewed through the eyes of four beautiful high-born sisters - Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, great-granddaughters of a king, daughters of a cabinet minister, and wives of politicians and peers.
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.
After the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey, his secretary, Thomas Cromwell, finds himself amongst the treachery and intrigue of King Henry VIII's court and soon becomes a close advisor to the King, a role fraught with danger.
In the eighteenth century, London is a city filled with prostitutes, pimps, gamblers and villains. In a time before the invention of modern policing procedures, the novelist Henry Fielding ... See full summary »
The focus of King Charles II (Rufus Sewell) is his court, his squabbling family and his glamorous mistresses - from the high-born and promiscuous Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine (Helen McCrory), through folk heroine and sex symbol of the day Nell Gwynne (Emma Pierson), to the French spy Louise de Kéroualle (Mélanie Thierry). It is an original take on a historical period written by award-winning Screenwriter Adrian Hodges, whose credits include David Copperfield (1999) and The Lost World (2001), which penetrates to the heart of the charismatic monarch who was deeply traumatized by the execution of his father.
Christian Coulson, Shirley Henderson, Helen McCrory, and David Bradley appeared in the Harry Potter film franchise. See more »
Just before the sequence concerning the smallpox epidemic, we get a brief look at The King's upper right arm and can clearly see a smallpox vaccination scar. See more »
King Charles II:
It's all been for nothing, Nell. The cause that gave my life meaning, will die with me. I fought to restore everything that was lost when my father was murdered but James will destroy it all. I know that, I've always known that.
Then why did you fight so hard for him?
King Charles II:
Not for him, for the principle. For the rights of Kings. Parliament will have its victory in the end.
You know what I think about politics; it's all a lot of foolish men scheming to ruin each other for no reason anyone can remember a...
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The version shown in UK was titled "Charles II: The Power & The Passion" and its original running time is 235 minutes. It was broadcast on TV by BBC in four parts, as it is also on the UK DVD distributed by BBC. The longer UK version has also been released in many European countries (Finland, Netherlands and more) and Australia. The version shown in USA on A&E was titled "The Last King" and has a running time on 188 minutes, cutting it down by almost 40 minutes. The DVD released by A&E in USA is the shorter version. See more »
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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