Why is the first episode rated so low? I found it intriguing, fast-paced, well layered, albeit a little bit too sentimental. Packed with different stories, and able to somehow detach from the boring theme of Moriarty, this opening sequence promises a season different from the last boring one. Still, we have to wait for the developments of the next two episodes.
Similar to the novel, the series have a pretty slow start and build-up and even look less glamorous or cinematically colourful than I expected (in order to stay true to the history, probably, as some frames of Cromwell or More look exactly the same like their portraits by Hans Holbein). The series only really take off from Episode 3, and become terrific in the last Episode, an extremely satisfying one. I often dislike the television format for any dramatic works as it almost always makes the "work" feel dragging, less engaging with poor cinematic values (except for superb series like "Sherlock Holmes" or "Fargo"). But only six episodes of "Wolf Hall" really cannot do justice for the two novels as this adaptation has to leave out many subtle and important details, especially related to Cromwell himself. On the other hand, Anne Boleyn is depicted even better in this series, with beauty, depth, and stories. Any cinematic adaptation of Hilary Mantel's "Cromwell trilogy" should learn from this series on this aspect. And I do hope that there will be such cinematic adaptation, as the trilogy is too good to stay only in this television form of an adaptation.
Holy cow! This series is so good that it makes "True Detective" look like a half-assed one. If "True Detective" started strong but gradually fell short of its prospect, "Fargo" started impressive enough but went even way better afterwards (except for the out-of-place Episode 2) and ended in an extraordinary note. Episodes 6 and 7 might be the best of the bunch, with many wonderful shots that carry the cinematic flavours of "Leon the Professional" or "The Shining", but the whole Series is simply amazing in maintaining the balance between Coen-Brothers-esque quirkiness and the subtle allegory of the Good vs. the Bad, the Human vs. the Evil. Even better, the film delivered such complexity in a very entertaining way, thanks to a top-notch cast with the never-been-better Billy Bob Thornton, the ever-awkward Doctor Watson aka. Bilbo Baggins aka. Martin Freeman, the formidable Allison Tolman, and almost everyone else. The "dragging" issue of the television format is still there, which reflected fully through a boring Episode 2 and some half-developed characters (the deaf assassin or the "second Mrs. Nygaard", for example), but this series really convinces me that a TV series can be almost as good as a cinematic piece, almost.
The weakest season of the series (so far) with a poor chemistry between the cast, complicatedly parallel plot with confusing script and directing. A more cynical Malcolm Tucker cannot help either, naturally.
The first two seasons have their ups and downs with many brilliant sequences but also some shaky moments, especially at the beginning (due to the lack of chemistry among actors, perhaps) , but the third season is simply terrifyingly terrific, especially the final two episodes, which reveal a very different Malcolm Tucker and an equally different Nicola Murray that one can hardly expect. Still, I think the film is superior (although a little bit one-side in depicting Malcolm) due to its "concise" format (still cannot appreciate the lengthy style of sitcoms, no matter how good they are).