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ROME

October 7, 2005

ROME is just as good as I had hoped it would be, and a wonderful contrast to the summer’s wrectched and embarassing EMPIRE. Same period, same story, many of the same characters, yet the ABC show was as dull as it was stupid, and the HBO show is rich, layered, authentic, sexy, and engrossing.

The moment one episode of ROME ends I am ready for the next one to begin. With EMPIRE, the episodes couldn’t end too soon for me. ROME actually feels as if it is set in the Late Republic; the look, the feel, the attitudes, everything rings true. EMPIRE had modern American actors running around in togas. Contrast the relationship of ROME’s Octavian and Titus Pullo with that of EMPIRE’s Octavian and Tyrranus to understand that it is not the idea that makes a story so much as it is the handling of the idea. Both pairings include fictional characters, but the former convinces, and the latter was pure Hollywood and utterly bogus.

If you are not watching ROME, you’re missing the best drama on TV since… well, since DEADWOOD went off the air.

(Oh, and ROME has a dwarf in a recurring role as well, though he hasn’t had enough lines for me to tell whether he would make a good Tyrion or not). EMPIRE – 07/22/05

I’ve been watching EMPIRE on ABC these past few weeks. Only Jove knows why. Chalk it up to my morbid fascination with ancient Rome, especially the late Republic and early Empire. Nothing else could explain it. EMPIRE might be marginally entertaining for viewers who know little about the Romans, and would prefer to know less. For anyone who has ever glanced at a history book, however, it is alternately excruciating and hilarious. XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS was a History Channel documentary compared to this thing… but have no fear, EMPIRE ends this week. And come fall, HBO will be giving us ROME. I have high hopes for that one. If it is only half as good as DEADWOOD, it will still be the second best show on televison…

Posted in What I'm Watching.
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