Television: Great Performances, "Henry IV, Part 2"

I've possibly mentioned before that, though I've read Richard II and Henry V, I have never read Henry IV. Not sure how that happened or why, but . . . Bottom line being I was watching this with no prior reference.

Thing is, it seemed to be more Falstaff's story than either Henry's. I mean, I don't blame Hal for being miffed that Falstaff robbed him of battlefield glory; I suppose that's why he kept away, along with the fact that—faced with the imminent death of his father which means the crown will devolve to him—Hal must realize he needs to grow up and get serious. Well, he doesn't change his spots right away or anything, but there at the end he really snaps to. And then he arrests Falstaff and throws him and his thieving friends in prison.


I'm not sure who I'm supposed to like here, if anyone, but I found the focus on Falstaff kind of boring. I've got Henry V on the DVR, so I'll get around to it at some point. It's been ages since I've read or seen it, so this will be a nice refresher. The histories are not my favorites (are they anyone's?) but Great Performances has made some slick productions of them here. Still, whenever I see Shakespeare expanded, I always find myself thinking about how the play must be when confined to a stage as intended. Could Shakespeare have anticipated such things as camera and film? Maybe not, but if he were alive today he'd surely be pleased with the option to do so much more with his stories.

Meanwhile, in this take of Henry IV, Part 2, I had that moment (again) wherein I found myself this time thinking "Jorah!" every time Iain Glen turned up. I actually heard him before I saw him, but he has this voice . . . There's something about it that makes me sit up and notice, and I knew who was speaking even before the camera found him. It's a lovely kind of rumble, that voice.

Jeremy Irons did a good job making crazy faces. For a play named for him, Henry IV sure didn't get much screen time. And Tom Hiddleston didn't get much more, either, though any time he's playing a prince I just think of Loki and wonder whether, now he's king and all, he'll make everything shiny like Asgard in that Thor movie. 'Cause let's face it, that throne room could use some bling.

Isn't that funny, though? Kenneth Branagh did that famous film version of Henry V, and then he directed Thor, and now Tom Hiddleston is doing Henry V . . . I think I just made myself dizzy. I should go lie down.

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