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Sunday, September 07, 2008

TV Watch: Rome Seasons 1 and 2

We chewed through both seasons of Rome with some ferocity. It's pure historical fiction meets soap opera, with all the backstabbing, devious plans and Roman orgies one might expect. Getting through both seasons give the entire a show a healthy feeling of the epic structure at work here. In particular, the relationship between Lucius and Titus plays out brilliantly from beginning to end.

And sadly it seems to be an end as there doesn't look to be a Season Three on the horizon. A victim, I think, of the plot framework which would have been pretty unforgiving to anyone trying to jump into the middle of the show. The characters and their conflicts are pretty fluid and without some kind of cheat sheet it can be hard to know what's going on.

An excellent show, though, and recommend renting the DVDs highly.


Clamatius said...

Loved Rome. Fantastic stuff.

As to why no Season 3, it's more a matter of budget. It was ferociously expensive to film.

Troy Goodfellow said...

Season One was much better than Season Two, I thought. They knew that it would only get a second season, so the pacing in the final season was insane. Historically speaking, it's thirteen years, and they cram in a lot of stuff.

I think that, ultimately, the show was undone by both this pacing, even evident in the first season, and the upstairs/downstairs plots that didn't really gel together all that well. Season One had a Forrest Gump BC thing about it, where these two common soldiers are there for every major event which distracted from their own ordinariness.

That said, there were a lot of strong performances. Pullo and Vorenus are a great center, though I never bought the latter's plunge into madness in Season 2. Antony and Caesar were the most historically convincing portrayals I've seen. From the first season, Pompey's sand-and-stick explanation of how he lost Pharsalus was heart-breaking in its aura of professional appreciation for his own doom.

Too bad about the budget, though. HBO made a lot of how expensive the sets were and then insisted on filming the show in close ups in dark interiors. They had the money for one battle and some nice furniture by the end of the show.

Josh said...

I can only imagine the graph someone made of cost v viewership on the show.

A point on high quality it was - I challenge anyone to view this on DVD on decent upscaler and say that it doesn't look almost like Blu-Ray. The cinematography is just that damn good. You get beautiful textures and colors out of every scene.

S2 certainly felt looser than S1, but it does at least put a good story cap to the characters. I'd like to see a third season, sure, but at least I feel like I got an entire tale out of it and not an annoying cliffhanger.

Troy Goodfellow said...

I get the sense that much of whatever would have been in Season 3 was in the final few episodes of Season 2. They jumped forward to Actium pretty abruptly, Livia isn't really laid out enough for Atia's insult at the end make any sense, etc.

Of course, what happened next is covered really well in I, Claudius.

Unknown said...

I had to stop watching The Tudors on Showtime because it was soooooooo inaccurate.I wondered if this was the case with Rome as well else i would like to download rome tv show.