I just finished watching the second season premiere of HBO's Rome
and I simply cannot imagine a series more cater-made for my particular interests. There is political intrigue of a level rarely found on television (or movies, for that matter), there is a setting so beautifully foreign yet strangely familiar, there is an intricately woven story that follows a web of relationships amongst a fantastic ensemble case, and, to top it all off, this is the stuff that history is made of, literally.
Without giving anything away, Rome follows (as quoted from Wikipedia
) "the violent transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire; a change driven by the class struggle between Patrician and Plebeian, the decay of political institutions, and the actions of ambitious men. While showing the lives of the rich, powerful, and historically significant, the show's perspective is centered around the lives, fortunes, families, and acquaintances of two Roman soldiers: Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, two soldiers mentioned in Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico."
Rome is an incredibly sophisticated production, and the complex storyline requires (and more than amply rewards) the attentive viewer. Having absolutely fallen in love with the series over its first season, I was pleased to find (after some casual research) that, although the story itself takes some liberties with the historical specifics (all the while following the broad strokes of what actually happened), the sets, costumes, and depiction of life in the "capital of the world" circa 50 BC is, as far as I have read, remarkably accurate. On top of the fascinating story, Rome is an onslaught of visual splendor supplemented by a wonderful soundtrack and all the trappings that have made HBO the source of so many great productions over the years.
I really don't want to provide much in the way of storyline details, as I think anyone who is interested would be best served by simply renting the first season and then scrambling to watch the second season as soon as possible (I couldn't imagine leaping into season two without at least having read about what has happened in the first season). So if history intrigues you and you love movies then you could simply ask for nothing better than HBO's Rome.
PS: This still doesn't mean I can forgive HBO for cutting off Carnivale
immediately after its second season cliffhanger. Please, somebody wrap up that story for me. I'll read it in book form if necessary, but stringing me along and then pulling the rug out from under me at such an integral plot point is just not right (and I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this).