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Rome: The Complete HBO Season 1 (6 Disc Box Set) - 24.97

Family dysfunction. Treachery. Betrayal. Coarse profanity. Brutal violence. Graphic (and sometimes brutal) sex. No, it's not The Sopranos, it's Rome, HBO's madly ambitious series that bloodily splatters the glory of Rome just as savagely as Monty Python and the Holy Grail soiled the good name of Camelot (but with far fewer laughs; very few funny things happen on the way to this forum). Set in 52 B.C. (Before Cable), Rome charts the dramatic shifts in the balance of power between former friends Pompey Magnus (Kenneth Cranham), leader of the Senate, and Julius Caesar (Ciaran Hinds), whose imminent return after eight years to Rome after conquering the Gauls, has the ruling class up in arms. At the heart of Rome is the odd couple friendship between two soldiers who fortuitously become heroes of the people. Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) is married, honorable, and steadfast. Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson) is an amoral rogue whose philosophy is best summed up, "I kill my enemies, take their gold, and enjoy their women". Among Rome's most compelling subplots is Lucius's strained relationship with his wife, Niobe (Indira Varma), who is surprised to see her husband alive (but not as surprised as he is to find her upon his homecoming with a newborn baby in her arms!) Any viewer befuddlement over Rome's intrigues and machinations, and determining who is hero and who is foe, disappears the minute Golden Globe-nominee Polly Walker appears as Atia, Caesar's formidable niece and a villainess for the ages. In the first hour alone, she offers her already married daughter as a bride to the recently widowed Pompey. One eagerly awaits to see what (or who) she'll do next as much as we anticipate her comeuppance in the final episode.

Rome is a painstakingly mounted production that earned eight well-deserved Emmy nominations in such categories as costumes, set design, and art direction. Michael Apted (Coal Miner's Daughter) was honored with a Director's Guild Award for the first episode, "The Stolen Eagle." But artistic considerations aside, instantly addicted viewers will agree with Atia, who notes at one point, "I adore the secrecy, the intrigue. It's most thrilling." --Donald Liebenson

Customer reviews (av rating: 4.5):

Rating: 5:
Sopranos in Togas : Who cares whether the Rome is Historically accurate , it's great T.V
great acting ,
direction ,
Story ,
etc ect ect .
Thank you HBO and BEEB for having the insight and the bollocks to do this.

Rating: 5:
Historically inaccurate? Fair revenge! : I loved this series, and considering all the lies the Romans told about the Celts, Picts and Scots, I think it's only fair the BBC spices up their story a bit. If they didn't want people to tell lies about them, they should have been more honest themselves I say.

Rating: 5:
Compulsive Viewing! :
I approached this series with some trepidation, knowing the excellence of the BBC's "I, Claudius" and assuming that that benchmark was unmatchable. I needn't have worried because "Rome" is a very different experience from " I, Claudius". It's a very impressive series made on a grand scale and is excellent entertainment. The cast is superb and I particularly like the interaction between the classes. Clearly, some of the gore and "unpleasantness" will not be to everyone's taste, but the Romans were a gritty lot and their politics and ceremonies were not exactly taken forward in the best possible taste. There will no doubt be historical inaccuracies, but as entertainment with a cracking story line and a first-class cast, "Rome" stands on its own merits - flaws and all. Highly recommended - I'm really looking forward to Series 2!

Rating: 5:
Excellent : There are many far superior reviews to mine here, but I could not resist the opportunity to comment on the greatness of this series. It depicts Rome in it's full bloodthirsty glory. The costumes are magnificant, the acting is solid. Most of the characters are hardly likeable, but interesting nonetheless.

The dvd boxset is worth buying, as there are many interesting extras and it is very nicely presented! I recently purchased this and have really enjoyed it!

Rating: 5:
Very good, well worth buying : I got this box set of Rome Season 1 without any preconceptions. I've always had a fascination for the Roman Empire and have read both fictional and factual histories based on the Romans. And of course I loved the film Gladiator, even if the ending was a bit depressing. But a TV series on ancient Rome?...this could be really bad.

Given that this is an HBO production I had high hopes of great production values and the series certainly does not disappoint. Great visuals, stunning sets, believable and seemingly authentic little details. Having said that I understand that some of the smaller historic details are questionable - though this is not ever noticeable to me, perhaps because the drama is so great. You really do feel like you are watching a dramatic story from ancient history, which is brilliant.

The story itself revolves around 2 central characters who by some quirk of fate (or perhaps the whimsy of the Roman gods) are deeply involved in the political and military highlights of the era. Julius Caesar, Pompey, military conquest, political treachery, civil war. The great backdrops (e.g. the senate, the military camp etc) with seemingly endless extras lend weight to the depiction of these events (arguments in the senate, discussions by Caesar with his officers at the military camp etc), but the acting and stories themselves are also top notch.

In addition to these historically important events the series makes the whole thing personal by including some great subplots for our 2 heroes. Their families, their careers, their hopes and disappointments. Both these guys have their demons, and watching them develop their friendship in the midst of their personal strife is really gripping viewing. And there are some hilariously funny moments. Again the backdrops to all this are superb - the slums of Rome, Forts in Egypt etc.

Overall the series portrays the social values (including a lack of taboo on nudity so beware), religious beliefs, murky underworld, criminals, soldiers, politicians - all of which are intertwined and probably not so different from today if you're a cynic like me.

To summarise I would say that this is great drama, with some great action (though never any big pitched battles that I was always hoping for), some great humour and some exciting storylines - and on top of that many of the characters in the series really existed and the broad brushstrokes of their lives are shown accurately.

I highly recommend this series, I have watched it twice and plan to again before series 2 which I have on preorder (missed half of series 2 shown on BBC darn it). As I said the only downside was lack of big pitched battles - well I hear there is a corker in series 2!

Edit: I would just like to add - the extras on the DVDs are very good. Some fun commentaries by the actors (and some dull ones by directors!), together with a nifty option to have historical facts show up on screen in context of what's happening...this was not at all intrusive (the facts are in little boxes placed out of the way of the action) and I learnt a few things I did not already know.

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