SRP $42.99 1.78:1(16:9) DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1 PARAMOUNT

For every piece of crap from "SHOWTIME" like "Californication," there's also a great series, like "THE TUDORS."  Jonathan Rhys Meyers has already proven his great acting abilities with the terrific "MATCHPOINT," but, as Henry VIII, he raises the bar again, bringing a charisma and sexual component altogether missed in previous films and series of the heavily flawed, selfish, impulsive, yet extremely educated King. 

While so many are familiar with the overweight version, "THE TUDORS" focuses on a virile, attractive Henry, leaving virtually every chambermaid swooning when he passes.  The series smartly points out that those unacquainted with him typically fare much better than those who bed him. 

"THE TUDORS" also is daring, and perhaps more historically accurate than previous retellings for the manner in which it depicts some of his rivals as more than caricatures, often with just reason for opposing him. It's also great fun to see Sam Neil as Cardinal Woolsey in a less than flattering, yet always engaging portrayal.

Being SHOWTIME, there's also a fair amount of nudity, thankfully, with beautiful women, in many of the first season's ten episodes.

PARAMOUNT/SHOWTIME has released the entire first season's ten episodes over 4 discs.

The correct 1.78:1 aspect ratio is intact, with 16:9 enhancement. While even the high-definition cable airings had some compression artifacts, it typically looked terrific. With resolution lowered for standard dvd, the fine detail of the elaborate costumes and production design is greatly diminished, but for 480 resolution, it's decent.  Colors are solid and contrast is typically impressive, with expected dvd quality detail found in darker scenes. Still, one can only hope a hd-dvd is released, as the lower resolution really holds the series from achieving its full "epic" impact on dvd.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is more aggressive than one might expect, with a great balance of ambient effects with directional effects and music. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.

Along with several featurettes, PARAMOUNT has included episodes of "CALIFORNICATION"(CRAP!), "THIS AMERICAN LIFE" and "PENN AND TELLER, B.S.!"