Wolf Hall is the ideal middle ground between Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones

April 5, 2015 4:01 PM

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Wolf Hall is the ideal middle ground between Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones

Any American who hasn't taken a class on British history (or watched Showtime's soapy, half-forgotten The Tudors) might not be familiar with the historical events that comprise Masterpiece Theater's latest British period drama, Wolf Hall, as it arrives stateside. Wolf Hall is based on the terrific Man Booker-winning novel by Hilary Mantel (and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies), which chronicles the court of Henry VIII through the eyes of his infamous adviser, Thomas Cromwell, a much-maligned historical figure who Mantel re-imagines as a pragmatic, ahead-of-his-time hero.

If you feel lost in the first 15 minutes of Wolf Hall's very strong premiere episode on Sunday, hang tough — you'll get there by the end. Once the story settles in, the complex chain of familial connections (and seemingly endless list of people named "Thomas") will start to feel like second nature. ...

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