Friday, February 20, 2009

That's reimagining, itself

HBO's "Rome" series is really good. The cast is top-notch, the cinematography is high-quality, the story is . . . well it's been retold for two-thousand years, I think it's safe to say that the story has something going for it.

Aside from HBO's usual "here are the nipples you paid for, enjoy!" content, there's not much negative to say.

Yet I do have a big problem with "Rome," and it's this: At the end of Season 1, they kill off the most interesting character, Julius Caesar.  (Sorry if that's a spoiler for anyone, but as has been established, there's a statute of limitations on this kind of thing.)

The series does such a good job of establishing that character, understanding him not as a tyrant nor a savior, but just a complicated individual who did what he did because that's what his mind was built to do. 

And then they squander it all by having him get murdered.

And yes, I know that in a historical epic there's some expectation of adhering to what "actually" happened. But is that really important?

This story has been told so many times over so many years, what can one honestly expect to bring to the table? Most of the time, when you see a "fresh" take on an old work, it's just the same old thing set on, like, Mars or something. So it's the same story with a different backdrop.

If I'd been writing that first season of"Rome," I would have have looked down at the page, shrugged my shoulders and said, "you know what, screw it, he lives!"

Maybe he undoes the robe and he's got on armor on under there, like Doc Brown in "Back to the Future," and it turns out someone came from the future to warn him*. Or maybe he just takes 23 stab wounds in stride, cause he's JC and that's how he rolls.*

*"And the warning wasn't all they brought me! Check out my T-Rex!"

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