Tuesday, August 30, 2005

So that's how it was...

Women sold like chattel, evil mothers bathing in bull’s blood, brazilian bikini waxes; I must admit I quite enjoyed the premiere of HBO’s Rome, though it certainly wasn’t that good. Better than Empire sure, but if that’s not to damn with faint praise, I don’t know what is.

This first episode was very heavy on the exposition, so much so that despite the undeniable visual grandeur, I was left with no sense of what the show is. Or who the characters were for that matter. Or how Brutus could get from Gaul to Rome so quickly. Rome’s stable mates - The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire - all flew out of the gates like they had the devil on their backs. Not one of them left me in any doubt of what I’d be getting for the twelve weeks following their pilots. Unlike so many shows, they were fully formed from the first minute; they had to be, because when you’ve only got thirteen episodes to tell your story, you need to find your feet in pre-production. After episode one of Rome I can’t say for sure I know what this show is.

I hear that production was shut down after episode three, so the producers could retool the show. Obviously they knew there were problems - with tone, pacing, characterisation, dialogue and what-not - so I’m going to have to hold off on any verdict until the season’s midpoint, I guess. But if it wasn’t working, and they’d spent 100 million or whatever the fuck dollars on everything, shouldn’t they have reshot, rather than run with a pilot which, despite the nudity, was sorta dull? With that kind of investment, you want people to keep watching, yes?

I’m certainly going to stick with it, because this has the potential to be either a gloriously crass train-wreck, or a truly vicious and titillating political odyssey.

Category: Movies and TV


  1. You nailed my thoughts on the first episode. Because of these problems you speak of I also found myself loosing interest in the plot and gaining interest in how absurdly modern Rome felt. Like they tossed togas on the cast of Desperate Housewives and called it Rome. Not the effect I think they're gunning for. But I'll stick with it for awhile.

  2. I'm staying with it because John Milius is on board. When a show's pedigree includes Apocalypse Now, Red Dawn, and Conan it goddamn better give us fucked up, barbarian army shit and soon.

  3. I didn't know Milius was involved. Didn't really know any of the creative minds fueling the show. But right you are, release the hounds Milius.