Pillars of the Earth premieres on CBC: dirty, sexy clergy
If you, like us, are still suffering from withdrawal after the series finale of The Tudors last spring, look no further than the CBC’s latest monarchy-versus-church epic, Pillars of the Earth. Based on last night’s premiere, it promises to be every bit as smutty and sexy as King Henry VIII et al.—and thank God for that. If we wanted to hear the straight story, we’d read a textbook. On TV, we want our history with a high dose of drama. The Ancient and the Restless.
Pillars, based on Ken Follett’s hugely popular 1989 novel, kicks off in AD 1120 following a suspicious fire aboard a ship housing the only legitimate heir to the English throne. When he dies, all holy hell breaks loose, and we find ourselves thankful that we slept through much of Medieval Studies class. We can honestly say we have no idea what happens next.
What we do know is that there is a lot of evil brewing both in the houses of the holy and the realms of royalty. Sure, there are token good guys on both sides of the church-state divide, but for the most part, 12th-century England feels a lot like a snake pit. This week, the God squad seemed to be out-scheming and outsmarting its royal counterparts. Didn’t the king know his nephew was up to no good when he kneeled out of turn during Princess Maude’s coronation announcement? Of course, King Stephen is just a pawn. The real bad guy here is the Archbishop of Canterbury (Gordon Pinsent), who might as well be a medieval Gollum the way he’s got his eye on that ring—er, throne. Equally diabolical is the archdeacon Waleran Bigod (Ian McShane), and his evil henchman, who, based on the archdeacon’s insinuation, is getting his rocks off behind the scenes.
Stay tuned for next week, when we’re hoping Princess Maude (Alison Pill) will give the men of the cloth something to pray about.