Sunday, April 08, 2007

Rome Season 2 Mini-Review

And so two weeks ago, the only television series to actually capture my attention since Firefly has ended; canceled (why is it the good shows always get canned to be replaced with drivel? And people wonder why I prefer to play video games). At the very least, however, HBO's Rome went out with a bang.

At the end of Season 1, Brutus and many other Senators had assassinated Caesar and Vorenus' wife had committed suicide. Season 2 begins on these dark tones and retains that feel through the rest of the show.

Shortly into production the crew was made aware of the show's pending cancellation, and in order to tie up all the story lines, they had to accelerate various events and the overall pacing of the show (the 10 episodes cover years), and while it was sad to see a major character die pretty much every episode, this faster pace really helped Rome's momentum, and it also pulled the focus away from Vorenus and Pullo and brought many of the supporting characters to the forefront.

In short and without giving away any major spoilers, the focus of Season 2 is on the power struggle in the Roman Empire between Mark Antony, Brutus, and Octavian who Julius Caesar announced as his heir. Of course absolute power corrupts absolutely, and these three men want to control Rome and the Republic for their own purposes, both noble and self-serving. Vorenus and Pullo are still tied into the main story when they are called upon to restore order in the Aventine district by taking control and ultimately running it's criminal operations.

Much darker and so much more dramatic. The character relations, even at the accelerated pace of Season 2, are what gives Rome its charm. Vorenus is desperately trying to restore his family life with his children who blame him for their mother's death, Pullo matures, taking on more responsibility than ever before and learns what it means to be a family man, and Octavian grows into a young leader and commander, fully ready and capable to oppose his rival and mother's lover, the brute Mark Antony. Powerful historical drama.

And just like Firefly, one must stop and think what Rome could have been had it not been canceled. I would dearly love to see an epic feature made to continue the story as was done with Firefly, however given the drastic changes and time-span that happened over Season 2, I'm left with little optimism.

The sets and costumes of Rome are beautiful and the actors do a superb job of bringing their characters to life. There are many twists and turns, some predictable if you know history and some not, and its these aspects that leave you wanting more of this gritty, violent, and sex filled drama.

If you missed out on Rome, I would recommend renting Season 1. Season 2 is still running in reruns on TMN, and I would imagine we'll see a DVD release at the latest for this coming holiday season.

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