Monday, October 16, 2006

Rome First Season Review

TV Sucks. Now let me repeat that for those of you who are reeling in shock and/or anger: TV Sucks. Dominated by retarded reality TV or law/medical drama clones too numerous to count, there's very little I've cared for on TV in the last several years save for the odd animated sitcom.

This vacation, however, I decided to rent the first season of Rome, and I must say that I was plesently surprised; I actually found a television show that doesn't suck moose nuts.

Rome is set in 52 BC, and starts at the conclusion of Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul. This initiates a power struggle and ultimately a war between his friend and rival, Pompey Magnus, for control of the Roman Empire. While the clash between these two titans as they plot and scheme sets the backdrop for the series, the show truly follows two simple legionares: Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo.

Vorenus is the honest and loyal soldier who returns home after the war in Gaul to a wife and family he hasn't seen in 8 years. Pullo is a drunken, violent man who loves drinking, fucking, and killing. In the first episode, the two are paired together to find Caesar's stolen standard, and though at odds with one another they ultimately develop trust and as the serie goes on, a deep and loyal friendship.

Being a television series, the show didn't have a huge budget for massive infantry battles like one would see on the silver screen. Typically battles are shown quickly with fast cuts, or the show simply cuts right to the aftermath. While this may sound like a crime to some, it honestly doesn't hurt the show that much as Rome is all about the characters and their interactions with one another. Whether it's Vorenus trying to understand his wife Niobe or Atia of the Julii attempting to manipulate another political situation, all the characters of the show are intertwined with one another in some form or another.

I only have two gripes with Rome, though each is ultimately so minor as to be hardly worth mentioning: 1) The series does start up slow. It takes it's time introducing and fleshing out the motives of the characters, and you need to watch the first few episodes to get into it. 2) The passage of time. Simply put, Rome may jump you ahead several months after a commercial break, and since all the actors still look the same (since they haven't aged), the only way you know is when a character mentions in passing an event you recently saw as having happened months prior. Despite this the series does still flow very well and maintains a strong sense of continuity.

Over the years I've found it difficult to find a strong, character driven show, and that's the main reason I'm so pleased with Rome. A great deal of credit should also go out to the set designers, costume and make-up artists, prop masters, etc. for creating such a historically accurate setting. It truly is fascinating to sit there and watch a society that is so like us and yet not like us at all. One word to the wise, however, is to keep this one away from the kiddies. It is graphic in the gore it shows, but there's also a great deal of nudity (both male and female) through most of the episodes. However such instances are used not just for wantan sex, but to display the base motives of the characters as well as the values of Roman society at the time.

The first season of Rome is only 12 episodes, and thankfully it has done well enough to be re-newed. As I type this, the second season is filming and I greatly look forward to the season premeire, though I don't have a date for that yet.


drew said...

TV sucks? No way! There are lots of great TV shows out there to be watched, both currently in production and older series on DVD. We actually have some of the best television ever made airing right now (and all of it better than most movies made in the last few years):

- Battlestar Galactica
- Heroes
- Prison Break
- Supernatural
- Family Guy
- ReGenesis

And older series that absolutely rocked:

- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Angel
- Firefly
- Roswell
- Futurama

To name just a few.

Juxtapose said...

I agree with Family Guy and Firefly, and that's it. We've had this "TV Sucks" discussion many times my friend, and you know that you'll never convince me otherwise.

drew said...

I know, but I also fully believe that if you gave these various shows a good chance you'd agree with me on at least some of them. :)

sequoia215 said...

I sooo agree that 'in general' TV sucks. It’s just another way to get stoned and drift away. Especially the plethora of reality shows. Drew listed some of the series I think were outstanding. All the Sci-Fi [plus a few more] and Prison Break as well as Lost. I think ReGenesis is one of the best kept secrets on TV. Plausible with science that is close enough to the real thing to be believable. Also I find the characters are fully rounded, quirky, troubled and real. Here in the North West there is no advertising. I found it by accident. I think it’s the best show on TV but you do have to have a brain to follow it. I wish there were writers out there that could create complex, science based shows. Trivia: the math in the show Numbers is based on real math. They used Population Dynamics in one of the shows; that’s when I realized Charlie’s theories were based in reality; I hung out with the folks who invented that theory. Check out this site [1] for more info and [2] if you dig math. These are the guys that keep the math real for the show. If any of you watch this show, the ‘starch run’ shown on May 2 ’08 is completely accurate. Check it out with corn starch and a little water. Squeeze it and it goes solid; release the pressure and it drips off the end of your fingers.

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