340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

City of bricks, city of marble.

Atia of the Julii: You. Leave this house this moment.
Glabius: I will not! Octavia's my rightful wife.
Atia of the Julii: You defy Caesar?
Glabius: A fig for Caesar!
Atia of the Julii: By the five Furies, if I was not a gentle woman, I would have you flayed, and hung from a bracket at the door!

Lest I've created the wrong impression with my lukewarm reviews of Extras and Primeval, I don't have anything against BBC productions; on the contrary, I'm excited by a lot of the Beeb's recent output. To wit: Rome, the electrifying historical epic that's had every imaginable critical laurel thrown at its feet.

Operatic in scope, the two seasons tell the story of Julius Caesar's rise, fall and legacy. Featuring a large principal cast and a literal army of extras, Rome presents its namesake metropolis in all its soiled, battered glory: senators, slaves and soldiers rub shoulders in its graffiti-marked streets while plots majestic and petty are hatched and executed with alarming regularity.

Polly Walker has received the most attention for her mesmerizing turn as the manipulative, ambitious, cheerfully amoral Atia. Both seductive and repugnant, Atia is a complex and dynamic character; Walker received back-to-back Golden Globe nominations for her performance. when she's on-screen, one can't turn away and when she's absent one wonders what the hell she's up to. Much more than just a femme fatale, Atia is one of the most compelling characters I've seen on television in ages and Walker's career-worthy monologues are reason alone to tune in.

Atia's nemesis, the regal Servilia, is sophisticated and mannered with an astonishing capacity for grudge-bearing. Brought to life by the fantastically talented Lindsay Duncan, the character is based on Servilia Caepionis, a well-known historical figure. Lover to Julius Caesar, she danced on the shadow-webs of noble intrigue and played a vital role in several backroom plots. Her venomous feud with Atia of the Julii is a major subplot during Rome's first season: enthralling and occasionally heartbreaking, their courtly war is a knife-dance of epic proportions.

I really could go on and on and on and on and on but the simple reality is that Rome is hands-down one of the top five shows I have ever watched, in any genre, ever.


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