I love historical epics. Ben-Hur, Spartacus, Lawrence of Arabia, you name it. If it takes place in the past and has some kind of historical significance and a true to life about famous people from antiquity, I’m ready to sign up and watch this second. There is something very intriguing about watching what lives might have been like way back then.
Rome, the venerable TV series that ran for a mere 2 seasons and 22 episodes, set the standard for what historical epics on TV could achieve and paved the way for some current juggernaut programs like Game of Thrones. I think there are some interesting parallels between them.
With Rome, set in the ancient times of Rome’s vast empire, HBO spared no expense with their attention to detail. The sets were outstanding, next level. The time period is just before Julius Caesar was assassinated, which happens during the show by the way, and Rome’s Republic is beginning to crumble. These are turbulent times indeed. But amidst all the chaos and slaughter by Rome’s mighty legions is a very human story.
The writers wisely chose to show much of the series’ perspective from the viewpoint of two ground level soldiers in Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus, both of whom are based on real Roman figures. Much of the show is from their point of view and this helps to focus the show’s massive scale to a more manageable level. You must, as a watcher, care about the characters and while Pullo is not the greatest person in the world because of his thirst for violence and Lucious is a bit too strict, you care about them because they are only the way they are because of the times they are living in.
Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Brutus, even Cleopatra makes an appearance and for us as viewers, we are transported away to ancient Rome, where back stabbing schemes of conquest are made and people live and die brutal lives. I love what we have here with this show but I wish they had figured out how to keep costs down so we could have gotten another season because there was so much more potential.