Thoughts on Episode One of Spike TV Tut

Tut posterKing Tut is probably one of the most well known Egyptian Pharaohs, not for anything he actually accomplished in his short reign, but for the magnificence of his golden death mask and the intrigue of his tomb, with its riches, possible curse and other mysteries. I think someone had an inspired idea at Spike TV to do a mini series based on the life of this boy king, since not much is truly known about him.

I love movies and TV shows about ancient times and especially ones set in the Egypt of thousands of years ago, so I was eager to view this program. I’ve seen a wide range of production values when filming ancient Egypt, from Katy Perry’s hiphop “Dark Horse” video to the recent blockbuster “Exodus” to one made-for-DVD movie that really looked like the members of the local church group had sewed their own costumes, hired two ‘real’ actors for the leads and proceeded to film their annual pageant. (DNF’ed that one but it had a certain fascination.) Spike’s Tut falls acceptably somewhere in the middle. I think they’re doing a pretty good job of portraying Egypt, not completely historically accurate but giving the impression we’re there if you don’t look too closely. Although there have been some pairs of earrings I totally covet!

I like their depiction of Tut the person, who came to the throne in 1333 BCE at the age of nine and died in 1323 BCE at the age of eighteen. Their Boy King is doing his best against a lot of opposition and he seems to have his heart in the right place, about Egypt and what would be best for the people and the country.

My own Gods of Egypt novels are set 500 years prior to this time frame, although Tut would have been a descendant of my Pharaoh’s family IF my Pharaoh was a real person. Since I write historical fantasy, with direct involvement by the gods, I loosely based my ruler on several real 18th Dynasty men who sat on the throne. (I have NO connection to the Spike TV program in any way although wow, I’d certainly love it if someone wanted to make MY books into movies LOL.)

This Tut is pretty active, not much slowed by his known physical challenges, and handsome. So far in Episode One he tends a bit toward the ‘Captain Kirk’ model as I always think of it – the leader who does all the important missions himself, survives major wounds that would kill anyone else with a minimum of downtime, romances the ladies, has mad fighting skillz….but it does make for enjoyable TV.

I seriously doubt he actually wandered around in Thebes at night in disguise, meeting his subjects. Or went behind the lines in Mitanni enemy territory with only a beautiful woman to guide him, in order to rescue the one soldier he could trust, per the TV plot.

I do think Spike TV captures the constant politics, infighting, betrayal and jockeying for position that undoubtedly was going on at Pharaoh’s court, especially in the time of Tut, where his father’s previous reign had upended the country. His father had tried to overturn the worship of the classical gods in favor of just one, Aten. And he’d built a new capital city from scratch (promptly abandoned after his death), besides ignoring the enemies all around Egypt, leaving a weakened and poorer country. So Tut wasn’t in the best situation as king. I liked the way he exerts his power and imposes his own  opinions in the TV show.

Judging from the previews, the soap opera aspects of the show are going to ramp up significantly tonight, when Tut returns home with the aforementioned beautiful woman who is not his Queen, and starts trying to really take charge and root out traitors.

There’s a certain bittersweet quality to watching this program, knowing the king only has till he’s 18, and then will die. Not to give spoilers some 3000 years later but in reality Grand Vizier Ay did come to the throne after Tut’s untimely death, marrying the poor young queen, who promptly disappears from recorded history. (But  not before she secretly begged the Hittite king to send her a prince to marry. Which the king did, but the the prince died on the journey. I wonder if Spike plans to show any of this?) Ay’s second wife Tey became the lady with all the power for a time. Now she’d make for fascinating TV!  And then General Horemheb took the throne after Ay but died childless. His chosen successor actually founded the famous Ramses’ family line.

I think Spike is shortchanging the glamour and glory of Pharaoh’s court. After all, he was counted as a living god. So far I don’t see much of that, not even among the everyday citizenry. Maybe tonight.

tut-spike-tv-avan-jogiaI have to admit I’m obsessed with chariots. My favorite part of the recent “Exodus” film was the behind the scenes featurette about the chariots!  I made the hero of my Magic of the Nile a charioteer, since I figured that was the coolest thing a warrior could be in that day and age. The fighter pilot of his times!  Tut appears to have only about five chariots to his name (a really small army but hey, TV budget!).

Bottom line: I’m enjoying the program, looking forward to seeing how they decide Tut meets his end, feel acceptably taken to a version of ancient Egypt and I appreciate the diversity of the cast.

The trailer:

Here’s the Spike TV Tut website: http://www.spike.com/shows/tut  for clips and more information on their production.

GhostOfTheNile_highresMy most recent novel set in ancient Egypt is the best selling Ghost of the Nile….

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