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Great TV

Rome About 18 months ago, my wife and I accidentally came across Episode 2 of "Rome" on TV.  We were immediately hooked, and sat transfixed each week until Series 1 ended after 12 episodes.   We knew that a second season had been made, but it never seemed to appear on any station available in Canada.  Most frustrating.  Then I happened to notice that Amazon was selling boxed sets of the entire 2-series show, a total of 22 long episodes.  Over last weekend and each evening this week, we watched the whole thing from beginning to end.

Rome_3 This is truly great television, epic in scale, consistently of the highest quality in production values, writing and acting.  Even more, the political background is remarkably accurate.  The series covers the period from Julius Ceasar's decision to bring his armies back from Gaul to Rome, through the Civil war against Pompey, his dictatorship and assassination, and includes Octavian and Marc Anthony's campaigns against Cassius and Brutus.  The series concludes with the deaths of Anthony and Cleopatra before the power of Octavian, about to become the first true Emperor of Rome as Ceasar Augustus.

Rome_2 We follow this history through various tracks: In one part of the foreground are two men, soldiers in Ceasar's legions: Lucius Verenus, and Titus Pullo, who represent the plebs, the lower orders;  in another part of the foreground are the senior politicians and soldiers:  Julius Ceasar, Marc Anthony, Cato, Brutus, Cicero, Pompey, Cleaopatra, Octavian, whose bloody rivalries drive the narrative and time lines; and the aristocratic women represented most clearly by Servilia of the Junii, Atia of the Julii, and Attia's daughter Octavia, who allow us to learn about the style and culture of the time, and whose vicious feuds make modern soap operas look like nursery rhymes.  All of the major characters are examined in depth, as are a dozen or more lesser figures.

The series cost a fortune to make -- no wonder they quit after 22 episodes.  And all the dollars are on the screen in sets, costumes, props, extras.  The acting is very fine throughout.  There is a great deal of sex and at least as much gore.  This is not for the faint of heart or the conservative Reader's Digest viewer.  The episodes were written by a number of separate authors.  But their consistency in quality and pace shows the strong guiding hand of, I suppose, Bruno Heller.This is marvelous stuff and if you haven't seen it, I urge you get hold of the DVDs and enjoy it.


August 24, 2007 in Movies, Television | Permalink


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