What exactly is the latin for I came, I saw, I watched some great teevee?
So we’ve talked a little bit about reality teevee (c’mon, people, pick JD already), and we’ll get back to that shortly with new incarnations of Survivor and Amazing Race going down.
But let’s talk about something a little bit artier, shall we?
Well, not arty in a bad way. There’s all sorts of tasty nudity, see.
Let’s us talk a bit about the glory that is Rome.
Now, you expect great things when you say hbo and series together. Look at the track record; the Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, the Wire, Sex and the City, Carnivale, Curb Your Enthusiasm. I mean, you see a thread there, right?
So it’s not like it’s news that Rome is really really good.
But it took a little warming up to. Like Deadwood, it’s dense, complicated, filled with characters, and at times deeply difficult to track. I feel like I should be taking notes when I watch this show, and the first episode, only the fact that I’ve studied ancient Rome a bit kept me from getting lost. I think wasn’t ’til the third episode that I really decided that a) it was really good, and b) that I really liked it.
There’s so much to like. I mean, let’s start with the obvious, there’s nudity (obligatory homer moment – Mmmmm. Nuuuuuudity…) I mean, lots of it. Yummy, tasty nudity. Beautiful girls riding on men kind of nudity (just about my favorite thing, the girl on top). Beautiful slave girl nudity. Nursing mother’s nipples nudity. Roman brothel brutal-hair-pulling-fucking-from-behind nudity.
Did I mention nudity? We just need some more slave girls, is all, to make it complete.
Then let’s talk about the technical stuff. The set is simply enormous, and looks incredibly authentic to my eye. The costuming, set decoration, the art design, it’s all spectacular and complex and rich and gives the feeling of real, living roman cities.
The cast – mostly british performers who look vaguely familiar but whom I can’t place, to a one they’re superior actors, with many standouts.
And then there’s the writing. I don’t care how good your sets are, your cast are, your ideas, plots, special effects. Your show begins and ends with the writers and the writers make or break it. This show is incredibly well written. Oh, I can’t say it’s deadwood; deadwood makes frontier poets of rough, villainous cowboys, while not compromising their being cowboys. But Rome feels like something distilled down from shakespeare and robert graves, as imagined by modern writers with a modern way of telling a story. So there’s a classic complexity to the dialog, without it being rendered impossibly dense.
Everything from bawdy conversations between soldiers to roman senatorial debate has a natural, real sound, while not falling into the trap of having romans talk and act line someone on the west wing.
I must say though, my favorite character is Titus Pullo, a roman soldier who winds up somehow in the midst of all the political upheaval. The HBO character page describes him thus:
A ferocious lover of life, possessing the courage and loyalty of a warrior, but the morality of a pirate. A man of huge appetites and wild passions. Impulsive, unreflective, optimistic, conceited, generous, and brutal.
I of course, identify with him heavily, when he says things like “Women scream my name by night from here to…” I like to think he’s the me I would have been had I lived in 52 bc. Particularly the morality of a pirate bit.
If you’re not watching this yet, they should be doing one of the catch-up weekends, check the schedule on hbo.com. It’s really worth slogging through the first couple shows, even if they seem difficult.
And you know, there’s the nudity.