Friday, 28 November 2014

Short review of channel 5's The Plantagenets

OK, any programme on the Plantagenets is always welcome - so thank you to Channel 5 for this documentary series.  The opening titles warn there will be scenes of Medieval bloody violence and torture.  We then get Dan Jones talking about Britain's bloodiest and deadliest dynasty, along with flashes of programmes to come.  The series is a sort of docu-drama, with Dan Jones telling the story, and with actors playing the parts of the key figures.  Be warned Kathryn, who runs the excellent Edward II  website and has just published Edward II: the Unconventional King, there was a clip of a man being held down on a table and screaming - so we can expect the red, hot poker story.

Anyway, episode 1 focused on Henry II and his treacherous family.  There wasn't anything in it I didn't already know.  As expected, Jones peppered his story telling with lots of modern phrases.  For example, the crowning of Henry, the Young King, was the 'archbishop's gig', news of Beckett's murder 'went viral', and the Young King set out to 'take down the old man'.

Having become interested in Henry, the Young King, after reading Kasia's marvellous Henry, the Young King blog, I was looking forward to how the programme would portray him.  Jones gives us a young Henry being frustrated by not being given any real power by his father, and reveals the royal accounts of 1172 show the young King existed on meagre amounts of money, that he was almost 'like a beggar'.  Henry II is blamed for guarding his power jealously, and being greedy with his riches.  He allowed the young Henry no power. The focus is on the treachery of the young Henry and Richard  - John barely gets a mention.  Henry and his sons are portrayed as deceitful, power-hungry and utterly treacherous - so nothing we didn't know already then.

Next week's episode focuses on Henry III.


Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Thank you for mentioning my blog, dear Anerje, and for your kind words, of course :-) The very first moment I saw the photo of Mr Jones you shared in your previous post I could feel it in my bones that the series was going to be a disappointment, nothing more than a collection of cliches, as it usually is when such "broad" topic is discussed. No time available to focus on particular historical figures... The same was- so I'd been told - with the BBC production I contributed to. I haven't been able to see it myself, but my friends were angry and disappointed.

Why people cannot try different approach and be open-minded from time to time???

Kathryn Warner said...

Oh no, are we going to get the red-hot poker? :/ I hope at least he gives equal time to other narratives, but I doubt it - sounds like the programme is going for the most sensationalist, bloody angle possible.

Anerje said...

Well Kasia, I've gotten to learn a lot about the Young King and had my interest in the Anjevins re-sparked - so thank you.

Kathryn - the red hot poker story just won't go away (sigh)

Anerje said...

I will of course be only too pleased to report on any other narratives!