I have a difficult but loving relationship with Hilary Mantel’s books so I was really excited to see them brought to life as it were. If you, like me, mainly enjoy historical shows for the costumes, you will not be disappoint! Lots of pretty velvets and jewels, and for some reason I kept noticing that everyone has massive, fancy sleeves. The sets are also pretty fabulous, with characters constantly striding through stone corridors and ancient weathered wooden doors and knot gardens and linenfold-paneled rooms hung with tapestries. (Apologies in advance as I think these pictures may be massive).
So far, the acting has been the best part. Not a terrible lot of scenery chewing, other than Theoden as the Duke of Norfolk (and he is wonderful as throwing a tantrum full of threats about biting off balls) a bit from Jonathan Pryce as the rather indignant Cardinal Wolsey.
Mark Rylance doesn’t look much like how I pictured Thomas Cromwell, but he definitely has Cromwell’s combination of give-no-shit deadpan delivery and acting-mainly-with-his-eyebrows cheekiness that makes the character so attractive. And I mean “attractive” not just as desirable (though I would certainly bang him like ye olde screen door and so would half the women on screen) but that he draws people to him. I remember this clearly from Mantel’s book, that Cromwell seemed to constantly amass a following, adopting orphaned nephews and employing kitchen lads and finding places for underemployed cooks and whatnot. This generosity, as well as just creating an interesting panoply of characters for the books and show, made him one of the more interesting characters in the historical fiction I’ve read (which is a lot) and doubly sorry that (SPOILER FOR 500 YEAR OLD HISTORICAL EVENT) he ends up getting beheaded over a poor choice of royal wife.
Oh, and post-Sherlock, Mark Gatiss definitely seems to have lost his eyebrows but found his niche as a supercilious bureaucrat.
Hey, if you have a Roku or other streaming device it’s free! Or you can pay to watch it sans commercials on Amazon Prime. Maybe you really like adverts for Viking River Cruises though (I feel like I know them really well after watching the first three episodes of Wolf Hall in two days).
If you haven’t read Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, I would seriously recommend it. If you already watched The Tudors, or read/watched The Other Boleyn Girl, Mantel’s books and the BBC show will give you a slightly different angle on the reign of Henry VIII (with less on-screen sexytimes).