17 December 2006

Come for the Naked Guys, Stay for the Story

Although I am mostly a fan of early 20th century history, I have always loved a certain small slice of ancient history -- the period about 2000 years ago when Greece and Rome were at their respective zeniths. Here was a time of big thinking (slavery is wrong), new entertainments (the creation of theater), great leaders (Alexander), and momentous world-changing events.

I have also long been a fan of naked guys. So, when I heard of the new HBO series "Rome" I thought it was a great mix of two things I really love. More's the pity that we don't get any of the pay television channels. Sigh!

Fast forward to yesterday, when ever-faithful Netflix whisks to my door the first DVD for the first season of "Rome." I figured I would fast forward to the naked guys and then send it back. Imagine my surprise when I was instantly captivated by the production design (the animated title sequence), the story (blood, devastation, death, war and horror), and the acting (take your pick). Before I knew it the first episode was over without a naked guy in sight. (Well, one a long way away.)

So, I guess now Matt and I are going to be on a "Rome" kick -- if the stories stay compelling. I most appreciate watching the episodes on DVD with the little "learn more" feature turned on. These are little boxes of information that pop up about a certain issue in the story (spear design, the explanation of slave collars). Totally the kind of stuff that I love.

I also greatly admire the adherence to period detail. I know enough about ancient Rome to know some things, and the little pop-up bits of information supply more. With the exception that no Romans spoke English (probably) and none had such good teeth (certainly), it seems I am really watching a bunch of Romans do their thing.

(One technical criticism of the show is that no men would have been circumcised at that time in history -- which, apparently, some actors are. However, I will await judgement on that until I see it for myself.)

P.S. The "Rome"
website is totally fascinating, filled with even more information about the show and the time period. HBO really invested a lot in these "behind the scenes" elements which I really appreciate.

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