Rome

Awhile back, I was writing about a well-regarded series I saw on Amazon Prime, Dead Like Me. I learned that the creator left after only a few episodes, over differences with MGM.

I was thinking a screenwriter’s life could sometimes be rather frustrating, with revisions sought by the studio and even actors. Like trying to write a book with a lot of fingers on the pie – “No, don’t make the character like that….this is how it should end…why do you have the character doing…this?”

One would think that if a studio is sold on the pilot, then let the writers keep doing what they want with a minimum of interference.

Judge them by their own creativity.

Anyway, while some of the episodes were….full of fluff there were still some good ones.

Perhaps the best test of a series is if the viewer, upon seeing the last episode, laments the fact that it is the end.

And I was sorry that it ended after only 22 episodes and 2 seasons, as was the writer I linked above.

I mentioned that the first decade of the new millennium was a glorious time for television, cable that is, and I stumbled on yet another wonderful series from that era.

My idea of a great historical drama is to have the basic facts – the big facts – true and not changed. Herman Woulk’s Winds of War was a great book and a great TV series. I can remember reading the book while in the Army in Germany, and astounded when the research was such that when Woulk mentioned a small town near my station, he was accurate. He had a fictional family set against the beginnings of World War II.

I am almost through the first season of Rome. I’d call it an epic, with magnificent sets and well-cast actors. And the main characters are not only well known, but some unknown fictional characters, like Winds of War,  in the foreground of historical fact.

The series starts out with Gaius Julius Caesar and his 13th Legion conquering Gaul. The soldiers of the 13th were battle-tested and hardened. There is rumor of  a civil war with Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, who eventually loses at the Battle of Pharsalus in Greece. Pompey flees to Egypt, where he is murdered.

Not spoiling anything here as this is history  but I’ll leave the series to put in the backdrop.

Caesar has returned to Rome to establish his reign.

Among the fictional historically actual characters are Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, who were Centurians in the 13th.  When Caesar returns to Rome and establishes his reign, the men of the 13th are in some cases destitute and in need of money. Some make it, like Vorenus, who becomes an ally of Caesar with a political post, while Pullo falls on hard times, and gets into trouble. He is tried (you should see the Roman Court, advokaat), and convicted, and sentenced to death.

One is reminded of how cheap life was in the Roman times, not only for slaves (who had no rights other than the monetary loss due to murder), but noble men and women.

Caesar tells Vorenus that he is to let “justice” take its course (allow Pullo to be killed), for political reasons.

Pullo is put into the ring to be killed by gladiators. His friend  Vorenus is looking on in the audience.

All Pullo wants is to die, and one of the Gladiators, in an effort to provoke him, says the wrong thing.

Brought tears to my eyes, it did.

The moral? Best not to piss off some veterans?

On Amazon Prime.


 

05/07/20 00:04 The quote at the conclusion of Friedrich Nietsche by the (presumably) Portuguese uploader translates (according to Google) as:

Friends are brothers in misery, equal before the enemy and free in the face of death”

Certainly describes combat veterans of all armies and all times…

5 Comments

Filed under Movie Review

5 responses to “Rome

  1. Old AF Sarge

    An outstanding series Bill, glad you like it!

  2. mcthag

    You could always get the truth from Lucius Vorenus. That was one of his major weaknesses. He never told lies, he never took drugs, and he never cheated on anyone.

  3. Robert Avrech, a screenwriter and a great blogger, remarked that there is much more creative freedom when writing for TV than for movies…fewer hands in the kitchen, I guess. Can’t remember his explanation as to why this is the case.

    Wonder if that’s also true of the TV series now being produced by Netflix, etc.

    Robert’s blog is here:

    seraphicpress.org

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