So, is anybody else watching this? If so, what are your initial thoughts and reactions?
Mrs. DrOp and I decided to give it a try (she had years of Latin, Mythology, etc in the NY school systemso she is very excited). I was skeptical about what they could do since we know most of the history here and, as with Deadwood,HBO seems to be pulling it off (insert sarcasm about the $100 million budget here).
Sex..check, schemeing...check, manipulation...check, politics..check. I really have enjoyed looking at all of this through the lense of two foot-soldiers as a way to examine the regular issues (war, treason, politics) as well as the class issues inherent and prevalent throughout.
I do find the conversation is a little difficult to follow at times (maybe *I* should ahve paid more attention in Latin class or actually READ Julius Ceasar in 10th grade) but I am willing to overlook my own denseness and keep plugging along for now.
I'm having a good time so far. I think Titus Pullo is a great scoundrel of a character, and that knife-through-the-throat scene was all sorts of shocking/frightening/bad-ass. I'm definitely enjoying his antagonistic bantering with Vorenus. Even though I know they're going a rather simple buddy movie route with these two, I don't care. It might be cliche, but I'm really having fun. (It took me until the end of episode two to realize that Vorenus was Tommy from Trainspotting.)
Also, though I've never read Caesar's Letters from Gaul, I'm told that Vorenus and Pullo are the only two non-nobleman mentioned in it. I can't vouch for the veracity of that, but, if true, I like that the producers singled out two men who were real and used them as the viewers' guides to their world. Now, most of their stories in the show are made-up, but I do appreciate the perspective that their characters bring. As much as I love I, Claudius and Shakespeare, there are only so many times you can watch the same venal noblemen whining at each other about honor, blood and strumpets. It's nice to see some poor guys worrying about money and where to get some booze.
I do kind of wish that the writers hadn't rushed into the Caesar-as-Dictator story. There hasn't been much done on Republican Rome, but Caesar, Mark Antony and Octavian/Augustus has been done to death. I would have liked to see some less familiar stuff... if only because the less I know about it, the less likely I am to get twitchy about historical inaccuracies.
Lastly, the guy who plays Cicero played Mr. Collins in the BBC's Pride and Prejudice, and I keep waiting for him to turn into a slimy simpering preacher and start talking about Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Then again, my mom kept that miniseries on in the background while grading student papers every weekend for about a year, so I think that actor, in that role, has been seared into my brain.