I have just finished watching Carlos Rey Emperador. It has taken me two months to do so, but at my rate of watching stuff, that is quite good. This Spanish TV series of 2015 has 17 episodes, each of 75-80 minutes.
With a production style similar to that of modern soap operas, it is, nevertheless, very well made. The costumes and settings are particularly good, as is the acting. However, the episodes can become somewhat boring, as each scene inevitably portrays yet another domestic, studio-produced conversation between historical characters. Nonetheless, the vast career of this series grew on me as I watched. My favourite scene was at the end of Episode 16 when the Emperor retires to the Monastery of Yuste. The actual monastery was used, to great effect, in the filming of this scene.
Somewhat typically for historical dramas, history is manipulated. This production contained exceptionally good, and exceptionally bad parts. The worst, I think, was the portrayal of young Philip II just before his first marriage, and on the night of his first marriage. This portrayal marred badly the overall production.
The actor, Alvaro Cervantes, who played the part of Carlos V, did so extremely well; in fact he was superb in the part. What particularly impressed me was the way in which he aged as the series continued. It is hard to make a young man look like an old man, even with all the make-up. But the way that this actor portrayed the role, as the character became older, was remarkable. Carlos V is, after all, the most powerful ruler that the West has known.
I also felt that the viewer did need to have a fairly good understanding of history. Famous characters routinely appeared in scenes without any introduction. Once I realised this, I kept my mobile phone close by, and found Wikipedia to be an invaluable aid for identifying them and thus better appreciating the scenes in this epic production.