HBO, creators of my favorite television show The Wire, have teamed with the BBC to produce Rome, an epic series that begins with Caesar’s conquest of Gaul. With a lavish 5-acre set in Italy, thousands of extras, a deep cast of 15 primary actors, and a budget exceeding $100 million, creators Bruno Heller, John Milius and William McDonald bring Rome circa 52 B.C to life and tell a complex story on a truly grand scale.
Rome is filled with intrigue, politics, sex, violence and precisce historical details. It commands your attention from the opening scene, and it is extremely addictive. The acting is especially brilliant, and standouts are: Ray Stevenson as Legionnaire Titus Pullo, a fighter of extreme efficiency and power; Kevin McKidd as Centurion Lucius Vorenus, a man with unflagging faith in and loyalty to the Republic; Polly Walker as the scheming Atia of the Julii; and, the wise beyond his years Max Pirkis as Atia’s son, Gaius Octavian.
The 12 hour-long episodes of Season 1 first aired in 2005 and are available in a lavish 6-dvd set (Amazon). The best of the special features are “All Roads Lead to Rome,” onscreen captions that explain facets of Ancient Roman life, and I suggest you enable this when you watch. Season 2 begins on HBO in January. Much thanks to Bill for introducing me to this fantastic program.