With the beginning of the end for AMC’s Mad Men, the debut of NBC’s Biblical A.D. and American Odyssey plus the premiere of The Lizzie Borden Chronicles on Lifetime, Easter Sunday’s primetime is a very crowded place this year. Among the offerings, I recommend in the video review above that you check yourself into Wolf Hall on April 5. The six-part series on PBS’ Masterpiece provides some very compelling television.
Based on Hilary Mantel’s award-winning novels and executive-produced by former HBO Films boss Colin Callender, Wolf Hall takes you deep inside the intrigue and power plays of the 16 century court of Henry VIII.
With former Homeland star Damian Lewis in regal form as the much-married King and acclaimed theatre actor Mark Rylance excelling as conniving courtier Thomas Cromwell, this is an old story, literally and figuratively, made anew with wonderful results. As history tells us, Henry wanted a new wife to have a male heir and the lowborn but Reformation-inclined Cromwell did everything for the King and himself to fulfill that desire. The result: The Church of England and the king’s marriage to Anne Boleyn, played here by Claire Foy. We all know how this ends but the path revealed in this fictional account is a golden one.
I personally couldn’t get enough of Jonathan Pryce as the ultimately doomed, vain and fawning Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. Already set for the upcoming season of HBO’s blockbuster Game Of Thrones, which debuts on April 12, Pryce’s Wolsey is a delight as a man who thinks he has a gilded spoon for his political soup only to discover he’s holding a lead fork.
A huge hit for the BBC when it debuted on UK TV earlier this year, Wolf Hall was adapted for the small screen by Peter Straughan and directed by Peter Kosminsky. Callender is EP for his Playground, John Yorke for Company Pictures, Polly Hill for BBC Two, Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece, Martin Rakusen for BBC Worldwide, and Tim Smith for Prescience and Altus Productions.