Tutankhamun (ITV, 2016)

ITV’s Tutankhamun finished last Sunday and following on from the success of Victoria‘ I was keen to watch it. I am a huge fan of the myths and legends surrounding Egypt and I was eager to see how the legend surrounding the discovery with Tutankhamun was dealt with. I was both disappointed and elated at the result.

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I had assumed that they would show some of the legend surrounding the infamous curse of Tutankhamun, as it happens this was a far more realist approach, one that is befitting of a period drama rather than a Hollywood Blockbuster. Be that as it may, I must admit that ‘The Mummy’ will always hold a special place in my heart and I was a tiny bit disappointed the supernatural legends surrounding the tomb were not explored.

Another complaint I have is the presentation of Tutankhamun as a ‘bodice ripper’ – possibly the wrong term as there was little in the way of bodice’s in the 1920s, but their determination to focus on the fictitious relationship between Carter (much younger and hotter than he actually was, but, I suppose, that is more appealing to watch) and Evelyn ended up slowing the program down. Episode 3 was entirely dominated by it and it was a real shame the show lost so much speed in this episode. The series really needed some balance between the romance and the archaeology. I’ve seen other reviews complain it was an Egyptian version of Downton Abbey and I can definitely see the comparison. Realistically, if they wanted to explore this relationship in more depth they really needed to add two more episodes to the series to fully explore the archaeology – there was a lot of large gaps in time, which were probably accurate, but I think they could have been smoother transitions if they had had more time to play with. That is the beauty of TV over film, you can get longer to tell the story rather than cramming everything into two hours, and in this sense, I wish the series had been six episodes rather than four and a bit more balanced.

 

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Aside from this, the casting was fantastic and really shows ITV’s expanding budget in this region. Max Irons as Carter was excellent and Amy Wren as Evelin was very captivating, the way the relationship between the two of them was conveyed was also good – though,as mentioned, sometimes in conflict with the rest of the series. Equally, Jonathan Aris (Anderson from Sherlock!) was truly excellent as Herbert Winlock, dapper American accent and all. There was a touch of irony in the presence of Sam Neill (Lord Carnarvon), but unfortunately, I don’t think Neill will ever outgrow his Jurassic Park typecasting – but he did a great job anyway (apart from that massively awkward and predictable scene where Carter and Carnarvon fight about Carter ‘bedding his daughter’…ugh).

 

Overall, I wish there was more in the way of actual information about the archaeology/more about ‘the mummy’ but I can understand why they did not want to do that. Crucially though, I think we are seeing ITV become a real compeititor for BBC period dramas – they don’t seem to be as consistantly good, and it is frustrating that you have to sit through ad breaks, but the quality is getting better and better (with the exception of their latest Drama Dark Angel …but that is for another post)

Tutankhamun: 4/5

 

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