Mosaic / Reviews / October 20, 2010

Brian Blessed stars as time-displaced ‘Henry 80’

“The Pope blocked me,” Henry 8.0 screams when he discovers that the pontiff has had enough of his Twitter antics. Brian Blessed plays the always pouty, always demanding, always huffy king of England in the BBC’s new web comedy, “Henry 8.0.”

The series maintains that the English king responsible for the Reformation in England and chopping off the heads of a lot of wives is still living, only now he spends his days in his suburban apartment messing around on Twitter and Internet dating sites while bellowing at his wife and accusing her of treason. Blessed, famed for his roles in “Black Adder” and as Augustus in “I Claudius,” delivers a simultaneously engaging and (almost) heart-warming performance while still being enormously whiny.

The web-only, short-clip format of the series is ideal for viewing by an international audience (most BBC shows are not easily available to an American audience), and is unique in starring a film and theater great like Blessed. “Henry 8.0” affords the viewer a special opportunity to watch one of the great actors of the modern age just having fun and doing a damn good acting job while he does. While the plot of the show is humorous and largely ridiculous, the acting is not, and the script is sharply written to please the educated viewer.

“Henry 8.0” does not merely seek to entertain through video, but also uses a blog, Twitter account and Facebook account to increase, in an odd way, the realism of the whole show and simultaneously to increase their web presence.

The mini-clips can be watched at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/show/p0056cb5/henry_80/

The “Henry 8.0” blog is at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/comedy/2009/11/hello-from-henry-80.shtml

Henry 8.0 can be followed on Twitter at @henrytudor8 and on Facebook by searching for “Henry 8.0.”

Ben Reeves


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