Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I have a confession to make. I didn't watch 'Rome'.

I saw the first episode, but I couldn't see myself sticking with it. I've come to realize from what I've read online from others, and from my own brother's enthusiasm for the series, that I've made a big mistake.

I'm a Biggus Dickus.

It wouldn't be the first time. I didn't stay with 'Deadwood' and never even started 'Battlestar Galactica'.

Thankfully, there are the DVDs and Netflix. I do plan on rectifying the error of my viewing ways for all three series.

Now that the series is over after two seasons, my brother Bill offered his views on the glory that was 'Rome':

'Rome' is over. Would've gone for a more climactic declaration of Octavian as Augustus, even though the timing would've been off, but that didn't stop them before.... Very nice ending all in all. Most satisfying to see how they wrapped up the story of Titus and Vorenus, one of the most memorable duos in TV history. May start up 'I, Claudius' soon to see the characters who live on in that iteration.

Two episodes ago in 'Rome', they showed Octavia's daughter, Antonia, as a 5-year-old girl. Very cute. She grows up to be the mother of Claudius, grandmother of Caligula, and mother of the bitch/whore Livilla who beds Sejanus (Capt. Picard), poisons her husband and plots with Sejanus against emperor Tiberius until she's exposed by Antonia, her own mother, then walled up, alive, and left to starve to death while her mother, Antonia, listened.

Like I said, at age 5 Antonia was very cute.

Bill wrote the following post about two weeks ago or so to the bulletin boards at HBO's site:

'I, Claudius' is not only the logical continuation of the 'Rome' storyline, it is its rightful heir. Remember last season, in Julius Caesar's final days, he is poring over a huge map with his engineers, going over plans for a massive public works project, as Mark Antony and Vorenus discuss other matters with him....

[Bill is referring to the episode "The Kalends Of February".]

Well, flash forward to a scene in 'I, Claudius,' in the waning days of Emperor Claw-Claw's reign, a span of almost 100 years in real time. In one amusingly poignant scene, Claudius revels at his discovery of engineering plans prepared by Julius Caesar for a similarly massive public works project, which Claudius' present engineers had insisted could not be done at all.

It is as if the producers and writers of 'Rome' were tapping 'I, Claudius' on the shoulder as heir apparent. Intentional? Probably not, but so nice nevertheless.

This last and final episode you get a taste finally of what a bitch Livia will become.... it was another great bow to 'I,Claudius'.

Because of the length of the production and the detailed history that was provided, I wish to nominate 'Rome' as the official representation of that period in Time for Earth Prime-Time. As such, it can then be linked to 'I, Claudius' which was already assured of its spot in the main Toobworld, with the recastings of characters like Augustus, Livia, and Antonia attributed to the results of aging. That's always worked before as a splainin to get around such a bugaboo.

Other productions that dealt with the time period - such as 1999's "Cleopatra" with Billy Zane as Marc Antony and 2002's "Julius Caesar" with Jeremy Sisto in the title role - are one-shots that can easily be relegated to other TV dimensions. (Thanks to 'Sliders', we have thousands that need such delegates.)

There are two mini-series which might give 'Rome' a run for its money to be the official standard for Toobworld when it comes to the depiction of the era: 'The Cleopatras' and 'Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire'. Not having seen either one of them (yet), I can't say whether or not they have a better claim to the "honor".

Several other mainstays of the main Toobworld have dealt with Caesar in the past and thus need some sort of splainin to reconcile them with the portrayal of the character by Ciaran Hinds in 'Rome'.

1] 'Bewitched'
Julius Caesar and Cleopatra were both summoned to Westport, Ct., in the year 1969 via magic. Elizabeth Thompson played Cleopatra and Jay Robinson was JC. However, they were not plucked out of Toobworld's past, but from the timeline for an alternate TV dimension.

And I have just the candidate - the Toobworld in which all of our Real World leaders were simpletons, including Abraham Lincoln ('The Secret Files Of Desmond Pfeiffer') and of course our current POTUS ('That's My Bush!').

2] 'Xena, Warrior Princess'/'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys'
Xena had several encounters with Julius Caesar in her time-hopping life; Herc had the one episode in which he appeared. The Roman noble was portrayed by Karl Urban as a young man, so we can use the claim of aging to splain away the recasting.

3] 'You Are There'
My take on this show's place in Toobworld is that CBS had access to time travel technology back in the 1950s that allowed them to view the past and interview its inhabitants. But it worked much like a TARDIS and it opened portals into other TV dimensions instead of along the direct timeline of Toobworld's own chronology.

So when they interviewed Julius Caesar (Milton Seltzer), Brutus (Paul Newman), and Cassius (Robert Culp), these historical figures were from some alternate Toobworld, one where tele-cognizance was second nature.

But then, Toobworld, like Life itself, is always in a state of flux and we could change our opinions on any or all of this someday in the future.

"Remember, there are no stupid questions...
Except for Billy's questions
Mrs. Narcolepsi
'Robot Chicken'

No comments: