'Tut': TV Review

Courtesy of Spike
Could use more Steve Martin.

Spike network’s three-night miniseries about the Egyptian boy king Tutankhamun inspires no devotion.

It’s no way to run an empire — with your father dead by a traitor’s poison and you, at the mere age of 10, thrust on the throne. But that’s the fateful hand dealt to King Tutankhamun (Avan Jogia), the famed pharaoh at the heart of the Spike network’s three-night yawn of a miniseries.

His reign was short (a mere nine years, according to most historical records), but his influence was great. The discovery of Tut's tomb by archaeologist Howard Carter and financier George Herbert in 1922 led to a widely renewed interest in ancient Egypt, something this cheap looking, Morocco-shot production could only dream of attaining. The series is so devoid of any real riches, it should be hosted by Geraldo.

Tut is still good for a campy laugh or two, mainly due to the paycheck cashing non-efforts of Ben Kingsley and Alexander Siddig as, respectively, Tut’s treacherous vizier Ay and the deceitful priest Amun. They both sport some hilariously thick guyliner throughout, and generally look embarrassed to be walking around production designer Michael Z. Hanan’s garish Thebes set, which is populated by lifeless extras who seem to number in the tens of tens.

The sparsely inhabited kingdom gets the ruler it deserves in Jogia, a pretty face with all the charisma of a dinner theater headliner. Jogia wears the same constipated, model-on-a-catwalk stare whether he’s dealing with treason in his own home — often in the form of his jealous sister Ankhe (Sibylla Dean, doing some sub-Joan Collins thesping) — or preparing to do battle with the massing armies of the neighboring Mittani tribe. This Tut should really be ruling Degrassi.

Read more: 'Tut' Boss on Exploring the Ancient World With Spike, Possible Second Season

With a monarch so devoid of magnetism, what pleasures there are come from the periphery. Nonso Anozie is commanding as Tut’s allegiance-shifting military commander and Kylie Bunbury is very alluring as the peasant woman who wins the young king’s heart (and ill-fatedly carries his child). The dialogue by Brad Bredeweg, Peter Paige and Michael Vickerman is laughably, often entertainingly, overheated: Describing the plight of women in Thebes, Ankhe intensely observes that they are “at the fickle whim of a man’s cock.” She also asserts her authority at one point by hissing “I am the Queen of Egypt!” Oh snap, girl!

The first episode ends with a ridiculous Godfather-like montage that intercuts Ay rubbing his bloodstained palm on the face of his son (Alistair Toovey) and Ankhe wildly screwing her lover Ka (Peter Gadiot). (Spike’s target audience will surely be grateful for the copious sideboob.) And if you make it to night three, there’s a pretty awesome decapitation, good for a few seconds worth of gorehound delight. But six hours (four-and-a-half minus commercials) of frenzied historical drama should really be more rewarding than this.  

Twitter: @keithuhlich

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