Sunday, November 06, 2005


Beau Bowden has commented that I haven't said anything about HBO & BBC's Rome which finally made it to UK BBC this week. So I'd better put my pennyworth in! Last week went in a bit of a blur due to me doing a lot of travelling, but I made sure I sat in front of the tv for this event.

It's not perfect, by any means. But it looks right. The sets look lived in, the extras look consistent. There's lots of colour, peeling paint, unusual sights. All is well in this version of Rome on that front.

As usual, on the 'literary programmes' those who know very little about the era - or about writing about the era - were commenting adversely on the dialogue. What on earth do they think the writer is going to use to let the Romans express themselves? Latin? OK, fine, but very few people will understand what's being said and the commentators will complain about that as well. The moaners should think about this aspect carefully before condemning. I actually rather liked 'Hello Brutus, me old cock' - it was absolutely in keeping and gives the right flavour. These Romans don't declare their dialogue with great import, and as a consequence sound like real human beings. Hurrah!

However - and there's always a however! Most of the characters aren't likeable. So if I have any quibbles, it's in the story-telling. In I Claudius, the audience could at least like Claudius and a few other characters. So far in Rome, I'm singularly uncertain if I like anyone. Vorenus is a possibility - he's not such a thug as his side-kick Pullo - and his wife is perhaps a sympathetic character, as are a couple of the other females. Other than that, they're a bunch of vipers, which is entirely correct. But it makes the whole thing rather uninvolving, unlike Bleak House which is completely absorbing due to a delightful mix of characters and the super adaptation of Andrew Davies.

I shall keep watching Rome, if only to sight-see (and perhaps some sympathetic characters might emerge), though I could do without quite so much sex, gore and lack of trousers on occasion :-)


At 6:51 pm GMT, Blogger Stephen said...

I agree with you on the dialogue - the trouble is that we are used to Romans speaking Shakespearean, because most of the Romans we see in drama are from Julius Caesar or Anthony and Cleopatra. "Hello Brutus, me old cock," is a world away from "friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears."

I do worry that some of the historically unimportant, or even fictional, characters (like Vorenus and Pullo) are a bit too clichéed, but I am still planning on watching every week.

Bleak House is top notch - Richard Griffiths' sideburns are a work of art, and Gillian Anderson's Lady Dedlock is fantastic, particularly in that phantasmal black veil that looked as if it had a life of its own.

At 4:53 am GMT, Blogger Anne said...

I can't wait to see Bleak House. Hopefully it will come to Australia before long.

At 8:49 pm GMT, Blogger Sarah Cuthbertson said...

I was hoping you would tell us what you thought of Rome! Like you, I'll probably continue to watch it as a "sightseer" because so far I haven't found the drama involving enough. I've posted some stuff about it on my blog.

Oh, yes, Bleak House is wonderful. Much better than the book. I never thought I'd say that about a TV adaptation, but Dickens does go on a bit in Bleak House, even for him! It was inspired casting to bring on the likes of Johnny Vegas, Matthew Kelly and Alastair MacGowan -- all superb!


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