Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ave, Alexis

[<--DEAD] This morning's savage constitutional, courtesy of an ex-military type, as well as a little dose of treachery, have left us weary but fulfilled. And so let's return to a post that we would have liked to have put up yesterday. To whit, the end of Rome, one of the few reasons we've had of late to tune in to HBO.

Many HBO subscribers take it for the difficult to follow comedy, as well as the occasional breast. We take it for the gratuitously pulpy, violent and exploitative drama, and a plethora of breasts. There has been nothing to live up this remit since the mighty Oz went off the air. The Sopranos and Wire, by contrast, are rather staid.

Rome, on the other hand, is this unwieldy, nasty, epic soap opera that will put food on the table of many a starving limey actor. It is a co-production with the BBC, which has thus had to fend off witless enquiries from the Sunday Telegraph . The Torygraph asks whether the scenes of graphic sex involving that bird from Patriot Games, which it obviously had to enumerate, are too much for the humble tommy.

It's a wonderful get out. HBO and the Beeb must present each murder, rape, prodigiously endowed slaves, cussing out and sub-Cicero oration because that's how it actually happened. This isn't the first time that such an attempt has been made on a previously bowdlerised era. From Hell confirmed what we always suggested - that the Victorians were a gang of sick, whoremongering junkies.

The contrast between the sordid deals that immediately belie their participants' talk of honour, of honour, the senate surrounded by filth and violence, the use of sex, not marriage, not the alliance, just sex, as a weapon. Cicero and Cato, as, respectively, coward and schemer, were wonderful to behold. Shakespeare bee damned, this is the Colbys chucked in a time machine.

We imagine you might find this tiring if you are surrounded by sex and violence all day. If you recall the dead hand of a classical education, as we are sure much of the BBC's drama department does, it's rather refreshing. It also explains why the BBC version, according to our eyewitness reports, decided to skip most of the early episodes' politics to concentrate on the sex and violence, with the BBC explaining it by saying that everyone knew the story anyway. Well spoiler alert, limeys, CAESAR GETS STABBED. Heh.

In comparison, the doings of the proletarians are of little interest. Now, here we might be betraying our own classical education, but we didn't find them convincing. Probably because they didn't all stand with their legs wide apart like ACTAWS declaiming. But they they all met suitably tragic denouements. More so than the noble protagonists, most of whom seem to have prospered through treachery.

We say - watch them all with the ones you love, and then enjoy the dreams of torture.


Post a Comment

<< Home