Romo's World: The End of Summer Means Good TV Returns

The fall season has gotten off to an early start with the premieres of Rome and Prison Break. I must admit I have high expectations of both shows but was slightly let down by both programs.

Whenever HBO puts out a new show I get excited as I know nine times out of ten it is going to be solid, if not spectacular; this is the opposite reaction I have to any new comedies put out by ABC, NBC or CBS.

After the finale of Six Feet Under, one of my all-time favourite shows, HBO brings Rome a week later to fill the gap. I still feel a bit scorned by HBO’s decision to cancel Carnivale just as it was hitting its stride so part of me is worried that HBO has become impatient with its programs like the major networks are.

Being that I studied history in university, including two Roman history courses, it was a shoe-in that I would be watching this show. After seeing the portrayal of Deadwood, another based on real historical events drama, I had great hopes that Rome would be able to capture the true sense of what it was like to be alive in 52 B.C. as Deadwood did for 1876 South Dakota.

So far I think the show is off to a pretty good start. I thought the small battle shown in the first episode was excellent. It accurately captured the discipline of the Roman soldiers and how effective a unit working together could conquer all of Europe.

The one thing that disappointed me was the development of two of the main characters, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. The Caesar shown in the first week was subdued, and dare I say it almost boring. Marc Antony was barely given any screen time.

The two most interesting characters so far were Lucius Vorenus, a soldier in Caesar’s army, and Atia, Julius’s niece. Lucius is portrayed by Kevin McKidd, who through his bio I found out played Tommy in Trainspotting. McKidd plays the ideal Roman soldier of the time: loyal, disciplined and unambiguous for personal glory. It seems to be a good guess that Lucius will be a vital centre of not just this episode but of the whole show. He is after all the top listed character on the website.

The one character I was most interested in seeing was Gaius Octavian, who later becomes Augustus Caesar. The portrayal of the 11 year-old Augustus starkly contrasts the portrayal of Augustus at around 20 in the mini-series Empire. Which one is more accurate? Well having not read any biographies of Augustus I will lean towards the HBO portrayal until I find out otherwise.

The first episode set up for some exciting encounters in the future. Caesar is at the cusp of his power. He has been betrayed by his friend Pompey and has a price on his head. As most know Caesar eventually marches on Rome and takes control before being assassinated. Julius Caesar dies in 44 B.C. leaving the writers and producers eight good years to develop the show.

I’m excited to see how the show develops. What historical events the writers focus on and what they ignore. Obviously not everything can be portrayed so the choices made in this regard will be vitally important.

Whereas HBO has a long run of success with dramas the Fox network does not. When I think of Fox “dramas” I think of 90210 or The O.C. Other than House and 24 I do not remember a solid drama to appear on Fox in the last five years. So getting into Prison Break has a great deal of more risk tied to it than Rome. I will admit though that the ads for the show got me convinced.

The plot of Prison Break is pretty simple in its ultimate complexity. One brother is in prison facing a death sentence, another brother, a structural engineer, believes his brother to be innocent gets himself arrested so that he can free his brother. It sounds more like the plot of a gritty 1960s movie with Steve McQueen than a TV drama.

Fox decided to start off the show with a 2 hour special premiere on Monday. This was a good call because after the first hour I was not buying into the show. Even after the second hour I am not 100% behind this show. I will be giving it another chance and I don’t see anything else coming on the schedule on Mondays to supplant it.

The scene shot in the prison were much more interesting and captivating than the scenes outside of the prison. I must say I am not buying into the whole conspiracy theory stuff being used to explain the wrongful conviction of Lincoln, the eldest brother. The theory being thrown out so far involves the Secret Service, who seem willing to kill anyone including a Bishop to hide the truth.

Lincoln, accused of killing the brother of the current U.S Vice-President, claims to have been set up. The thing that gets me is the plot of this show would be, and should be enough, sans the whole “U.S. Government” is corrupt and such. I’ve seen this theme way too many times but it’s never been done well.

Beyond all this the most obvious question is how long can this show really go?
mean how long can they postpone or put back the “prison break?” From what I gathered Lincoln’s execution is set for one month. So if they spend at max 2 days an episode they can stretch the show out about 15 episodes, which could bring it to the season finale. But what than? Will the show end with the escape from prison? Will it be able to evolve into a “Fugitive”-like show with the brothers on the run?

Most likely the execution and prison break will be postponed until as long as possible. I do think the show could evolve after the prison break where the brothers try to proof Lincoln’s innocence. Even if they do try this I’m not sure if the hype about the show will be able to sustain any popularity the show has. I am concerned the gimmick of breaking out of prison is what will really attract viewers to the show.

I am assuming the writers and produces know they need more than just the prison break gimmick and that is where the conspiracy theory fits in. I fear the show will de-evolve into a show about some government corruption, abuse of power and conspiracies. Blah I say to that.

While those two shows are just getting started Big Brother on CBS is nearing its end. I have been an off and on viewer of Big Brother but this summer I have been a more dedicated viewer than past seasons.

I was sad to see Kaysar go for a second time, though I was glad America, and heck Canada because I voted at least 4000 times for him, chose Kaysar to return. The Tuesday episode of the show was perhaps the one that made me laugh the most.

Seeing Ivette cry that America chose Janelle to win the reward of a phone call from a loved one made my day. The so-called Friendship Alliance seems to think that they are some sort of angelic gathering that all the viewers love. Well the CBS website sure tells a different story. Those whom the FA call “evil”, Kaysar, Howie, Janelle consistently have been voted the most favourite houseguests.

In response to Ivette’s frustration with America rewarding Janelle rather than her April made a statement about how the viewers must be idiots or something along that lines. Wow April what a way to get people to hate you. Basically you are saying that 80% of the views of Big Brother are idiots. Nice work, that will sure ingratiate you to viewers. I would LOVE it if the summer of secrets had one last secret. The winner will be decided by public vote and April costs herself $500K by her alienating the viewers.

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