On Rome…Posted: March 26, 2007
The final episode of Rome aired last night. It was, as much of the great series’ second season, a bit of a disappointment. Needless to say it was a well-acted, well written, well directed hour and fifteen minutes or so of television. But it lacked the emotional and dramatic power that was so powerful in the first season.
The first season did an excellent job of showing how the ‘great’ events and personalities of history effect the ‘common man’ (personified by Vorenus and Pullo) and how the the common man affects great people and events. The tragedy of Vorenus’ involvements with Caesar is beautifully dramatized. The series powerfully invoked the theme of how a person’s ambition can destroy the lives of those around them, and even their own.
The first season reached an excellent balance of characterization and historical accuracy. The writers had both their characters, history, and plot firmly in hand.
This season though, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The overall plot seemed to be just beyond the full reach of the writers. There were too many characters to fully examine and too much time to cover. Thus the deep, nuanced characterization of the first season gave way to more broad stroke characterization.
It also seemed that the writers suffered from the ‘Sopranos Syndrome‘ where a previously tightly plotted series degrades into an extremely loosely plotted show. It seemed that the writers had only a few things they really wanted say and take their sweet time getting there. Many episodes of this season of Rome felt mostly useless, almost empty. I seemed to have missed the point the writers were trying to make and many new characters and plot lines were introduced but failed to satifiyingly or completely interweave with the overall plot (the battle between Antony and Octavian over the future of Rome). Many of the characters’ actions this season, left me asking “Why?” The writers failed to show the psychology behind some of their characterization choices.
This is not to say that the second season of Rome was bad. The acting was wonderful. The writing (compared to just about any other drama currently on TV) was outstanding. The camera work and set design was just unbelievable, the creators continued to really invoke the look and feel of Ancient Rome.
Yet, compared to what came before, this season was a big disappointment.