If Deadwood was the precursor to Justified, then surely Rome was the precursor to Game of Thrones. The show only lasted two seasons due to the excesses of the production budget but in those two years, HBO yet again showed us what a good historical drama should look like.
Starring Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, James Purefoy and many others, Rome took an epic, sweeping look at particular characters and events from the history of Ancient Rome. The show begins with the ascendancy of Julius Caesar and ends with the downfall of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. During this period, we get an authentic look at the lives of Ancient Romans.
Whilst people may squabble about the historical accuracy of events as they are depicted, one should remember that this was intended first and foremost as entertainment. Besides, if the show managed to get people interested in Ancient Rome, they could surely then undertake their own independent research to verify what was accurate should they so desire. Any show which allows us to put a human face on historical figures and to thus generate interest in the past and in what me might learn from it, can only be a good thing.
The scripting, acting and general production values of Rome are comparable to Game of Thrones. It’s a pity the show ended so soon but it accomplished a lot during its brief run. A lot of the mistakes made whilst filming Rome, which resulted in its inflated budget were taken into account during the production of Game of Thrones. So if you love GOT, be grateful to Rome. Without Rome to act as a trail blazer, GOT probably wouldn’t have lasted as long as it has.
Even though there are only two seasons to enjoy, Rome is still well worth your time. Interesting, compelling and highly enjoyable, there’s few shows before or since which can rival its quality.
Reviewer: Dave Coughlan