Charles II: The Power and the Passion 
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Starring Rufus Sewell, Charlie Creed-Miles, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Shirley Henderson, Helen McCrory, Ian McDiarmid, Diana Rigg.
Rescued from exile by a desperate Parliament, Charles II returns to the throne at the age of 30. As the Plague and the Great Fire brings London to its knees, Charles nurtures the wittiest, most lascivious and decadent court of all time. A sensitive and promiscuous lover, he entertains an array of mistresses including high-born Barbara Villiers, sparky streetwise actress Nell Gwyn and aristocratic French spy Louise de Keroualle. Still traumatized by the execution of his father, Charles is forced to play politics with the Parliament that killed him and proves himself a canny and ruthless politician. Meanwhile, with a lack of a legitimate heir, his squabbling family grow ever more frantic
One of the better BBC costume dramas of recent years, 2003's Charles II: The Power and the Passion depends very strongly on its central performance. Fortunately, Rufus Sewell is admirable throughout as the saturnine, witty monarch who has retained popular fondness down the centuries in spite of his conscientious adherence to the bad and losing cause of absolute monarchy. Adrian Hodge's intelligent script dramatises the issue in quick sound bites--many politicians accepted the Restoration to avoid chaos and were determined to bring Charles to heel, whereas he was determined to defend the position for which his father had been martyred. If that meant handing the throne to his Catholic brother in default of a legitimate son of his own, so be it.
The four hour-long episodes cover the Restoration, the Plague and the Fire of London, the secret treaties with France and the Popish Plot, as well as giving us a fair bit of Charles's moderately happy marriage to Catherine (Shirley Henderson in the most hideously accurate historical hairdos ever) and his affairs with various mistresses. Among a number of fine supporting performances, Rupert Graves stands out as Buckingham, the friend who betrayed Charles. This sort of costume drama only ever works if the acting is as good as it is here.
On the DVD: Charles II on disc comes with a making-of documentary and a commentary on the first episode from writer Adrian Hodge and the director and producer. It also includes an extended documentary on Charles's back story--his education, his attempt to fight Cromwell's forces, his period on the run in England and his long exile--in which a number of eminent historians, including Richard Holmes and Ronald Hutton, talk about how he became the king he was. --Roz Kaveney
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The plot was pretty obvious but the real shame was the lack of any attempt to convey the artistic blossoming of this post Puritan period. The production totally ignored the magnificent Restoration explosion of sensuality, in music, theatre, poetry and art following a time of extreme religious repression when even Christmas was banned. The music was bland-anonymous and lacking in any of the vitality, expressiveness and danceability of early Baroque music. The other arts were completely absent. The overall result was a rather pedestrian and simplistic telling of the political story with a small number of uninteresting "romps". Certainly nothing to set the blood racing. All in all a it came across as a low budget costume drama with a tiny amount of very British (ie unsexy) bodice-ripping.
Lady Villiers was totally unconvincing as the scheming harlot, lacking in any charm and well past her sell-by date.
Not even Rufus Sewell could bring this dogs breakfast to life.
i was not aware that this would be so.
i usually see the films more than once, or twice or even more, but have not done so in this case, because of the subtitles.
i will not order films that come from the netherlands, although I would like to have some, because of this subtitle problem.
for example "Warrior" the UN in the balkans.
if only we could play them without any subtitles!