I have to admit. I got into watching this Showtime series that I've already said is the usual cable mix when it comes to dramatizing history. That is, part soft porn, part soap opera, part ultragraphic violence ala video games, and part really terrific movie making.
Jeremy Irons might be the initial reason to watch, and he does display his usual flair for menacing charm. Though over the course of this first season—the finale was tonight—he also showed a surprising obviousness, a tendency to contribute to the melodramatic antics with seeming complicity, though there are always one or two scenes where he dominates the screen more with his usual intense control.
But the last few episodes have also been graced with an actor whose work I'm unfamiliar with until now, as far as I know. He plays the French King Charles, and I think his name is Michel Muller. The first time he appeared on screen I was knocked out by his presence, the way he commanded attention without demanding it. Some very subtle artistry which has only grown more impressive with each episode he has appeared in.
I ended up staying with the show more for him than for Irons and the others. Though there's something also deeply satisfying in seeing history you know the narrative for re-interpreted in sometimes predictable, but just as often surprising ways, and with almost entirely unexpected casting (like the English accented blond beauty playing Lucretia Borgia, who has surprised me with her range, whose name is equally unexpected: Holliday Grainger).
When this first season becomes available on Netflix or some other means of distribution, check it out and let me know what you think of it. In some ways it's like a more violent and sexualized version of those technicolor historic melodramas Hollywood produced in the 1950s, which is maybe what drew me to it in the first place. There's something comforting in the elaborate costumes and armies with plumage and what seems like hundreds of real extras, not computerized ones.