One of the best TV shows I have seen in recent memory was the BBC and HBO’s collaborative project; Rome. Set during the first Century BC, during the last years of the Roman Republic, the show included such famous protagonists of ancient history such as Julius Caesar, Pompey, Cleopatra, Mark Antony and Octavian, the latter of whom would become the first Emperor of Rome; Augustus Caesar.
This show was not suitable for children and did not shy away from showing just how sadistic and brutal the people of Rome and Rome itself was. Graphic violence, nudity, swearing and sexual themes aplenty meant that Rome had a late showing time and was not in as prime a slot as it deserved.
The sets were perhaps the best thing about the show. A small city was actually built to film in and it looked fantastic. It certainly added to the realism of the show and I am sure it inspired everyone who was involved in the show from the actors to the writers and directors. And while I am crediting the creative staff of this series, I really feel I should bring up the print materials and DVD packaging which had some of the most fantastic designs and does not let down the art department of HBO from their normal supremacy.
The storyline followed the lives of Roman soldiers, Centurion Lucius Vorenus and Legionnaire Titus Pullo who find their lives intertwined with key events. Kevin McKidd played Vorenus and Ray Stevenson played Pullo and both actors easily stole the show. Their relationship in the beginning is built on nothing more than Vorenus being a higher rank, but eventually the two form a friendship as strong as any which provides for some brilliant on screen moments.
The supporting cast was also very good, with special mention going to Polly Walker, who played Atia, Julius Caesar’s niece, a cheery, calculating and opportunistic manipulator. Also of note is Max Pirkis and Simon Wood, who play the intelligent and brilliant Octavian/Augustus Caesar.
Rome was very well written and rather witty at times. The writers knew how to pen some truly tragic moments as well as some very funny moments and showed excellent diversity. It is a shame the show didn’t go beyond two seasons, but I guess two seasons of gold is better than nothing.