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Rome: The Complete HBO Season 2 (6 Disc Box Set) [2006] - 36.48

Unlike another certain celebrated HBO series, Rome's end will satisfy those swept up in its lavishly mounted spectacle and invested in the human dramas of the historical figures and fictional characters. Series 2 begins in the wake of Julius Caesar's assassination, and charts the power struggle to fill his sandals between "vulgar beast" Mark Antony (James Purefoy) and "clever boy" Octavian (Simon Woods), who is surprisingly named Caesar's sole heir. The series' most compelling relationship is between fellow soldiers and unlikely friends, the honorable Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) and Titus "Violence is the only trade I know" Pullo (Ray Stevenson), who somewhat reverse roles when Vorenus is overcome with grief in the wake of his wife's suicide. Series 2 considerably ups the ante in the rivalry between Atia (an Emmy-worthy Polly Walker), who is Antony's mistress, and Servilia (Lindsay Duncan) with attempted poisonings and sickening torture. Another gripping sub plot is Vorenus's estrangement from his children, who, at the climax of the season opener are presumed slaughtered, but whose true fate may be even more devastating to the father who cursed them.

Rome's second season does not scrimp on the series' sex and violence, in both cases exceedingly brutal. But in this cauldron of treachery and betrayal, words, too, are vicious, as when a defiant Atia ominously tells Octavian's new wife, Livia, "Far better women that you have sworn to [destroy me]. Go look for them now." In writing Rome's epitaph, we come to praise this series, not to bury it. Although two seasons was not enough to establish a Rome empire, it stands as one of HBO's crowning achievements. --Donald Liebenson

Customer reviews (av rating: 5.0):

Rating: 5:
The four-letter R*** word! : Fantastic sequel to the first series. Sufficient historical accuracy (if not perfect) combined with gripping and well-acted drama to keep you on the edge of your seat. Spoilt only by unnecessary overuse of the F*** word in the first few episodes. Its going to be Number 1 on my Xmas list!

Rating: 4:
Gripping, compelling : Picking up immediately where the first season ended, Rome season two embodies the same qualities that made the first season such a treat: the realistic depiction of death, violence and political intrigue are as well-done as ever.

Personally I would rate this season (only slightly) lower than the first, really because the story of Lucius Vorenus as a businessman didn't interest me as much as his life as soldier. Things kick into high gear quickly enough though, as the continuing civil wars and shifts of allegiance make for compelling viewing.

All the characters finish their stories in this final series with some degree of justice; whether they are murdered, die in battle, or prepare to live their lives with a huge degree of change. Everyone arguably gets their just desserts, and it ends on a highly satisfying note.

Rating: 5:
Never mind the critics : Critics in the UK's newspapers panned the series as a Dallas in ancient Rome; but viewers everywhere have given it their seal of approval. I have friends who couldn't stop watching the series, even though their interest in Roman history was minimal before; one even bought Cassius Dio's history.

Like the first series the second too is based on ancient Roman sources, adapted for necessary dramatisation, and so losing a few vital facts and chunks of history but making the entire thing delightfully watchable. - Cicero was actually betrayed by his freed slave and decapitated when he stuck his neck out of his sedan chair's window while fleeing to the coast. And there are a few other historical inaccuracies; thus I do not recommend the series as a substitute for serious cramming.

Overall though I have nothing but praise for the production, the acting and the accuracies of dress, customs and culture.

Here the actors were Caesar, Brutus, Marc Anthony, Cleopatra and Augustus Octavian; not stars desperately trying not to play themselves. Highly recommendable and very enjoyable at that to get any generation to appreciate history and how it repeats itself.

"Quidquid ages prudenter agas et respice finem" * has never been truer.

* (Whatever you do, do it with prudence, and consider the outcome.)

Rating: 5:
Awesome series : This is a simply awesome series and impossible to not watch all the way through. I watched the whole thing over a holiday weekend and am sure I'll be doing a second session pretty soon. Definitely better than the first series which was pretty great anyway. Get this set - you won't regret it.

Rating: 5:
Unbelievably good! : The only bad thing about HBO's series "Rome" is that it has come to an end! What an amazing, fantastic piece of work by everyone involved. Yes, it is not as historically accurate as it might be, and I could see how that could rankle. However, the performances are so outstanding by each and every actor that you simply cannot be disappointed. How often is it that you get to see not one but two older women (and in Hollywood, that means over 25) who have such fabulous, juicy roles? Atia and Servilia are fantastic; Polly Walker's Atia is a force of nature. I must admit that I liked the young Octavian a bit more than the older -- the younger is Max Pirkis, who was so fabulous as the young sailor who loses his arm in Master & Commander. Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson are superb as Vorenus and Pullo, the two soldiers the story is centered on. But I have to say, the total standout is James Purefoy as Mark Antony. Wow. In the first episode of Season Two, to watch him walk up calmly behind Cicero and scare the bejesus out of him, and in Servilia's house no less, is a scream. He is the epitome of "calm assertive," and you know that everyone in that room is frightened to death of him (and for good reason too, as Quintus finds out moments later). He manages to convey great menace and violence with just a look -- an amazing actor. Love him, and the entire series of Rome. Bravo!

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