Nerdgasm Television – Swordplay
Long behind us are the days of Xena the Warrior Princess and the embarrassing Adventures of Hercules. In fact, you could argue that HBO and the BBC had all but done-in the low-budget crap swordplay shows with the colossal mega-budget show, ROME back in 2005 and 2007. All the better, things are looking a little on the up and up in the coming months as we set out on various fantasy, medieval and ancient adventures, all in series’, and all on television.
Cinematic quality television is what it’s all about. I can’t stand low production, low-quality work. It was impossible for me to get into Heroes, and for the life of me, can’t get into dumpy network nerd-shows like Vampire Diaries, Stargate Universe, Merlin, or that god forsaken “V” series. Thus, fantasy is where it’s at, and in order from (what I think) is lowest to top quality, here’s the must-watch nerdgasm list of sword-powered television:
Originally aired: Starz (2010, 2011)
Available on Netflix Instant
Best season: Season 1, “Blood and Sand”
Coming from a guy that loved “The Expendables” because they filled numerous shots with explosions and had so much senseless violence it really could put hair on anyone’s chest… Spartacus was a little too much testosterone for my tastes at times. Amazingly, the roughly $10million per episode budget didn’t really seem well paid for, but on the other hand, it wasn’t small-time “The Cosby Show” sets either. Blood, gore, British accents in place for proper “old world” feel, and a good amount of CGI filler for those complex shots and landscapes kept the plot folded up in a universe easily digestible.
Overall, no serious complaints. Rating: 7/10
Airing: Starz (2011)
Note: Basically “just” started…
Starz isn’t doing all too bad, they’re not my favorite, the quality of the show seems lower than the others on this list, and with Camelot, actors Jamie Campbell Bower (King Arthur) and Tamsin Egerton (Guinevere) bug the shit out of me. I’m running with it though, as this series is still getting started, I’m hoping that Bower was cast as Arthur because he can play a “bitch” and come of age as King as the series progresses. Egerton’s just annoying and poorly cast, the weakest link in the series by far, and that even goes for what’s her face, Eva Green (Morgan).
The series starts a little slow, but it got me right away, because I love a good “up from nothing to something” story, and a few suits of armor never hurt any plot… Unless you’re Sword and the Sorcerer (shudder).
So far, same as Spartacus on the scale, no serious complaints just yet. Rating: 7/10
Costume Drama Interlude
See, I’m a bit torn here. On one end of the spectrum, you have fantasy, and on the other end you have closer-to-now history-style costume drama. Although Spartacus is set in a place known to exist, I’m pretty close to sure the show is only about 1% accurate, and maybe 40% authentic. When it comes to Camelot, that’s all lore. So when it comes to The Tudors and Borgias, you have to take into account that these costume-dramas aren’t actually in the same category as Spartacus or Camelot, by any stretch. Nevertheless, I’m still going to include them, as they are more political, less gore, and less armor, more Pope… though they absolutely still take the same levels of liberty when it comes to accuracy versus authenticity:
Airing: Showtime (2007 – 2010)
Note: Costumes aren’t too shabby.
The only thing that makes The Tudors more interesting than Camelot thus far is the fact that there are 4 seasons to soak in. However, it’s basically divorce court with sharper means-to-ends (of swords) than you’d get in, say, General Hospital. I get it, Ol’ King Henry had a lot of wives, and it was a tough deal back when this took place. Overall, though, the character developments, and the sub-plots pull together well enough. The production value of this series is pretty darn high, considering. My guess, Showtime has more cash on hand for productions than Starz, it’s either that, or tacky wallpaper and elaborate costumes are cheaper to put together than men in cloth-diapers and hand-made leather-strap boots on CGI backdrops.
I’ll circle back and rate this after I’ve consumed the series’ in their entirety, but right now, it’s getting a 7/10 as well.
Airing: Showtime (2011)
Note: Also, basically “just” started…
I think Showtime loves Catholics, just a guess. Whatever it’s worth, I pretty much have a subtle enjoyment watching anything with Jeremy Irons in it… even Die Hard 3. I also enjoy a good crime-family story, and what better time to showcase the trials of family crime time than the 1400′s.
Again, the spectacular production quality Showtime put forth with The Borgias makes it worth the watch, and it’s at the top of my watch list. I’ve only watched spots of each episode in short bursts to check them out and write this post. It looks amazing. I can’t speak toward the acting just yet, but I’ll definitely work in a few more write ups about this show, as well as Camelot and Game of Thrones as they progress.
Not gonna rate it, but it’s #3 on my watch list after I finish:
Originally aired: HBO (2005, 2007)
Best season: Season 1 and 2
Yes, this show is amazing. $180million for 22 episodes of television. HBO and the BBC basically rebuilt the Forum to scale, scale enough for television anyway. Not to mention, the story that was put together was so amazingly well done, though not accurate, it felt so authentic, you can’t help but watch this series at least once a year… at least, that’s what I’ve been doing since 2005.
Perhaps I’m a tad obsessed, but overall, the politics, the sociology, the drama of the protagonists (Pollo and Lucius)… It’s hard not to love this series. Back in 2007 when I learned that HBO would not be airing a third season, I was a tad upset. But after watching series one and two through a few times since, I honestly think if there were a third, fourth and fifth season, it would have started to go stale… that and I think HBO would have gone bankrupt.
Basically, you’ve gotta watch Rome. That’s all. 9/10. It could have only been better if it were followed up with a feature film of some sort to give some extended story on some of the sub-plots, but I have no idea how such a movie would play out given how they end the seasons.
This aired tonight
To be honest, the advertising ALONE has me excited for this series, and I hate marketing materials. I sat and watched the 14minute preview (Preface) online last week, and got a nerdboner. Incredible.
From my understanding, it’s a mini-series, so it’ll be over in 10 weeks. From what I also understand, it looks friggin’ epic! To compare “Camelot” to what I’ve seen of “Game of Thrones”, HBO just kills it. It’s darker, heavier fantasy, and I have yet to see an actor in it that makes me want to call up casting directors to give’m a few lines of trolling a’la cellular service.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, this mini-series may very well end up being in the “rewatched a lot” bucket, along side Carnivale, Boardwalk Empire, Deadwood and (of course) Rome. I think I just have a thing for HBO shows that air for less than 5 series’… Never did like Sopranos.
04.18.11 • posted in: Entertainment