When The Tudors began in 2007, people noted that the youthful star of the series, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, looked nothing like our familiar cultural image of Henry VIII. This was explained away with the statement that as a young man, the Henry of history was considered quite good looking, and thin besides.
However, the death of Anne Boleyn at the end of last season indicates that we have moved into the final ten years of Henry's life and reign, during which time he was clearly middle aged, and fat with more than power. But he's still being played by the 31 year-old Rhys Meyers, so clearly all concerned have given up pretending there's much in the way of realism here. But the second season of The Tudors was an improvement over the first, raising hopes for Sunday's third season premiere (Showtime, 9 p.m.), which will continue with the major themes of Henry's multiple marriages and increasing despotism. Henry faces new trouble with some of his subjects, who have tired of his crusade against the church in Rome. And he takes wife Number Three, Jane Seymour, in the hope she'll be the spouse to finally bear him a son. I doubt it's much of a spoiler to say that Jane isn't the last wife we'll see this season.
Also this week:
Monday: How I Met Your Mother (CBS, 8:30 p.m.): Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) is not going gentle into that good night. Confronted by Ted's list of things that the group is now officially too old to do, he sets out to prove he's still young by completing the list in a 24-hour stretch. Never bet against Barney when debauchery is turned into a game.
Tuesday: Osbournes: Reloaded (Fox, 9:20 p.m.): Isn't this 2009? Seems to me America got over the Osbourne family years ago, but Fox is betting we will be up for seeing Ozzy and clan in a variety show. The highlight of the premiere finds Ozzy and daughter Kelly working the drive-thru window at a fast food place. It follows American Idol, but these four will have to show unexpected comedy chops for this to truly succeed on its own, since Fox is holding back on airing all the episodes already taped.
Wednesday: The Real World: Brooklyn (MTV, 10 p.m.): Season Twenty-One ends with our eight roomies saying goodbye to each other and the Big Apple, but not before one of those now-expected run-ins with the police. MTV just can't seem to get lucky and cast fine upstanding citizens! A one hour reunion follows at 11 p.m.
Thursday: ER (NBC, 9 p.m.): The end is finally here, after fifteen years and countless CBCs and chem-sevens. The closest thing to a true finale moment in the two-hour episode comes when Carter (Noah Wyle) embarks on the new phase of his career, opening a clinic for Chicago's poor. But for the most part, it's just another day at County General, with guest stars Alexis Bledel and Ernest Borgnine. A one-hour special at 8 p.m. precedes the two-hour finale.
Friday: 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the '80s (VH1, 10 p.m.): The seemingly never-ending supply of week-long VH1 countdown specials might be starting to run dry at last, because this topic is more narrowly focused than usual. If you've ever wondered what happened to Soft Cell, the Mary Jane Girls, and the recording career of Eddie Murphy, this is the event for you. The reveal of the top twenty comes on Friday.
Saturday: Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m.): The curious thing about this current SNL season is that the musical guests have been unusually unconventional, considering that this is the show that gave us Ashlee Simpson "live." Seth Rogen is the host this week, and some group called Phoenix is the musical act. At least we've all heard of Rogen.