Sunday, July 31, 2011


 While our poll is still going on and you can still vote, HOLLYWOOD SPY is bringing you today a review of all the marvelous epic or historical shows which have amazed us in last few years bringing action, drama and lavish settings to TV again!
Which one is/was your favourite? Do you love historical and fantasy shows as much as your spy?
When it first premiered a few years ago, MERLIN was supposed to be a relaxing Saturday afternoon fun for the viewers of BBC, but then it seduced the audience becoming a world wide popular show with tens of millions of viewers and three seasons with the fourth one ready to air this Fall. In the world which loves grim, morbid and extremely dark stories, MERLIN was a breath of fresh air with its lovely stories based on myths and fairy tales, with it's picturesque sets and colourful costumes, with a sprinkle of humor and with amazing chemistry
between the two lead actors Colin Morgan as Merlin and Bradley James as Arthur. The two weak spots are slow pacing (I thought that we shall see Arthur and Merlin ruling Camelot but it still hasn't happened) and that horrid horrid actress which plays Guinevere with only one facial expression in all possible situations and with utter lack of talent. She's the worst casting choice ever seen on TV since Anna Paquin's Suki in TRUE BLOOD.

I must admit that, although I generally liked the show, GAME OF THRONES did leave me a bit disappointed and I think it owes its success mostly to the millions of fans of the books. Although it had its great sides (nice sets, mostly nice costumes, and some great performances - Sean Bean's being the best one) the show had problems with the dynamics within episodes, it didn't have any fantasy nor epic elements, it was mostly based on weak dialogues and there wasn't enough focus on any of the characters. So my main problem was with the adaptation and direction. The show just lacked some deeper directorial vision.
But, if you ask me, it was worth watching just to see the final scene of the first season in which we witnessed the birth of dragons on the body of the naked princess in the middle of the raging fire :) I wish the show had more of such breathtaking and deeply creative scenes. The second season is coming up next year hopefully with more action and with more inner drama and struggles.

The show which basically brought back historical programmes back to prime time is THE TUDORS. Not many shows have had such a strong fanbase as this Showtime's series has. With outstanding acting (Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry, Maria Doyle Kennedy as queen Catherine and Henry Cavill as Charles Brandon gave truly legendary and extremely refined performances), mesmerizing sets, exciting drama and brilliant costumes, THE TUDORS had four seasons before they went straight to television history. The first season was by far the
best, with the last, final, season being the weakest leaving an impression that it was shot and written in a rush. It still remains the show which will be loved and watched in decades to come as well.

I must admit that I was immediately smitten by ROME as soon as it premiered on HBO in 2005. Following the lives of both illustrious and ordinary Romans and set in the last days of the Roman Republic, the show brought us amazing acting
performances (especially from Polly Walker, Ciaran Hinds, James Purefoy, Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson and Simon Woods), highly exciting plot, marvelous direction, amazing action, terrific sets, lots of alluring and delightful nudity which played its purpose in depicting the era ... Although it had a huge success, after the filming of the second season the biggest studio ever to be used for a TV show was destroyed in a fire and the shooting of the third season was impossible even though the second season scored an even bigger success and ratings. The producers didn't know that the show will have such a tremendous success and thus the show was canceled with the second season leaving the audience hungry for more! The whole show cost around $100 million!

Although it was filled with naked titties, willies, ripping muscles and tight buttocks :) SPARTACUS BLOOD AND SAND was by no means superficial. Behind the outrageous visual feast which also included groundbreaking special effects, marvelous sets, mind
blowing costumes and thrilling fighting scenes, there was intelligently written plot full of highly refined twists, there was profound drama mixed with witty and quick dialogues, and above all there was masterful acting from Lucy Lawless and John Hannah who were unforgettable in their portrayal of Lucretia and Batiatus. Even the prequel SPARTACUS GODS OF ARENA was wonderfully done and shot. Second season SPARTACUS VENGEANCE will bring us Liam McIntyre as Spartacus instead of Andy Withfield.

Although we can't say it managed to replace THE TUDORS as Showtime's new historical saga, THE BORGIAS weren't all that bad. Although the first six episodes were confusing, rather pointless, visionless and  had a terrible lack of direction (both behind the helm and in the screenwriter's seat) after the sixth episode when Neil Jordan gave up the director's seat to the much more talented Jeremy Podeswa, the show suddenly became dynamic, thrilling, sexy, lavish, quick and much more refined and it also finally gained a direction in which the story and the actors could flow more easily.
Jeremy Irons, as the pope in this story of intrigues and plots in one of the most famous papal families in history, gave a rather uninspired performance, but I did like Colm Feore as cardinal Rovere, and the young actors were also a pleasure to watch.

Even though the readers of the fantasy saga upon which LEGEND OF THE SEEKER show was based upon didn't like the adaptation, the show did manage to create its huge fanbase and thus it lasted for two successful seasons following the adventures of young hero Richard Cypher and his friends among wizards and sorcerers. The second, final, season was much better than the first one presenting the most breathtaking of sets and landscapes, mesmerizing costumes and some stunning visuals. The show also gave us one of the most impressive and memorable female warrior characters seen on TV ever since STAR TREK's Seven of Nine,
gorgeous Cara in the marvelous portrayal of unbelievably gorgeous Tabrett Bethell. Overly humorous character of wizard Zed was probably the weakest link in the show since it made the show less serious than it should be. Craig Parker as the main villain Darken Rahl was also outstanding and legendary.


  1. "Although it was filled with naked titties, willies, ripping muscles and tight buttocks..."

    HELLO! That's what great television is all about. LOL.

    The first episode of Spartacus wasn't very good, but once Lucretia and Batiatus came on the scene, it was a great.

    Tough choice between Spartacus and the Tudors, which by the way your descriptive sentence above also applies to. :)

  2. yes, we do love all those things both in reality and on TV :) and both SPARTACUS and THE TUDORS gave us plenty of it, although SPARTACUS really was more vivid in that respect (if you watched the uncensored versions as I did) :)

  3. Jeremy Podewsa and Colm Feore -- two immensely talented Canadians!

  4. I like The Tudors, but am really looking forward to watching Game of Thrones. Some great selections here, it's hard to choose! Wonder if I walk around naked if a tiny dragon will land on my shoulder... better not, the sight would make people scream and run (dragons are scary).
    Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

  5. Loved The Tudors and Rome, Spartacus has grown on me,still to see The Borgias and hadn't heard about the Seeker series, Merlin did nothing for me.

  6. I loved the Game of Thrones and have since gone on a George R R Martin marathon (I hadn't read any of the books before the TV series)although I can see where you are coming from, Dez. Also really enjoyed Legend of the Seeker - Cara was a great character - and they should have taken Zedd down a notch. At times they went for more of an episodic feel with the action ramping up for 40 mins and then being conveniently tidied up in the last 5 mins. Which was annoying and removed any tension because you were aware of the format. It was more effective when they let the story unfold naturally. Still, it deserved a bigger audience.

  7. nothing ruins your day faster than having a dragon born on you.

  8. I have so much TV to catch up on but I do love the Tudors!

  9. @Debra
    I'm not generally familiar with Jeremy Podeswa's work, but his talent was unbelievably obvious in BORGIAS, since you could really feel a huge huge difference in the last four of five episodes which were directed by him, he basically revived the show which was heading for a premature death :)

    hey, Charmaine, welcome to HOLLYWOOD SPY, hope we shall be seeing you here often :)
    And, no nobody would complain if you had a dragon on your naked body, dragons are super cool :)

  10. @Lurk
    ah, then you probably wouldn't like SEEKER since it was a softer kind of fantasy like MERLIN, but then again, they did have a lot of sexy ladies (extremely almost unbelievably sexy) in the show, so you might like it after all :)If you decide to watch THE BORGIAS don't give up after first bad episodes, since the good stuff come with episode 6 :)

    glad you liked SEEKER, Michael, it really was a charming show and Cara is still my favourite female TV character ever :) It is true that a lot of the episodes had a cliche feeling, but the second season was much more dynamic in that respect. The show had a lot of viewers, but it's destiny was tragic due to financial problems of the company which was producing it :( Kinda like with ROME - great shows which were canceled due to some higher reasons.

  11. @Edmund
    trust me, Edmund, those dragons didn't ruin her day, they made her a Dragon queen and gave her more power than she ever had :) I hope her character will have a big part in the second season since it was probably the most interesting in the first season

    if you liked THE TUDORS, Libby, you will probably like THE BORGIAS too, since they were shot and produced by the team which brought us the first show too :)

  12. Since I only get one tv channel, I haven't seen any of these. But after reading your post, I'm starting to think I'm missing out on something!!
    I must admit to purchasing the Firefly series on DVD and LOVED it. Wish that show was brought back!

  13. I think Rome was superb for storyline & cast I doubt any of these can by pass it's quality. Good points made about Game of Thrones. Sean Bean made that first season ace! Henry Cavill really stood out for me but in general the show hasn't held my interest. And the slow motion of Spartacus killed it for me.

  14. @Terry
    ah, you must buy some of these shows on DVD, most of them are wonderful and super exciting. You're in Canada, aren't you? I think you can catch some of those show on Canadian channels too.
    And FIREFLY was great!

    yes, ROME, had a very very high quality and amazing cast. I'm not sure what shall we do without Bean in the second season of GAME OF THRONES :( Cavill truly was the biggest discovery in THE TUDORS:)

  15. @Dez I had noted Cavill already in Tristan & Isolde even under the longer hair & braids :-)

  16. ah, yes, Henry was great there as well and TRISTAN AND ISOLDE also had the most amazing performance by our dear RufRuf :)

  17. Hi Dezz! I agree with you about Jeremy Irons in The Borgias. He looked bored with the entire thing, and as the lead, if he was bored, then why should we care! I saw almost the entire series and I think you hit on why it didn't work, it lacked focus and it was confusing to follow (and I even know a little bit about the real Borgias). I think somewhere along the way directors and writers have forgotten how to tell a story. Yes, fine, people will tune in to see all the soap opera and bed hopping, but to keep an audience interested in the long run, I think you have to do more.

    Game of Thrones: As you know, I'm a fan of the program, but I have read most of the books - almost done with #4. For me the fantasy element of the books is not the most interesting part, but the characters and the story - but a difficult story to adapt to 10 episodes and I did think the first few episodes tried to set the story and introduce the many characters and maybe it was a bit confusing for non-readers (and I'm a recent reader, so don't really count myself as a devoted fan). I think the next season will bring more action, and always surprises.

    I didn't see Merlin, must put it on my much to see, so little time!

  18. yep, Fabo, I totally agree with you on Irons, he shouldn't have taken the role if he didn't feel it. I also read a lot about the Borgias before and I always thought they would make a stunning and extremely interesting story for a show, and that's why this show left me disappointed because I feel it didn't use the great material it had. But maybe they are saving good stuff for the later seasons :) The show did get better in the last episodes.

    I did generally like GAME OF THRONES, but I thought it was just weak in all the confusion and lack of focus. I hope the second season will pick up in faster pace and more depth.

  19. I've only watched Spartacus and a bit of Seeker, but i do plan to finish Seeker and watch the rest of the shows at some point

  20. oh man! i was just reading game of thrones before this post! :) it's taking me FOREVER to read it, because it seems whenever i can find some free time for reading, my hubby has our copy and i can't wrestle it away from him! it's funny to watch the two bookmarks race their way through the book!
    i just realized that netflix finally released the second season of merlin onto instant view so, i'll have to see that sometime too.

  21. I love Merlin! I think it's one of the best shows. I love Bradley James and the hotties who play Lancelot and Gawain. Rarr!!! Now if only Merlin were a bit more like Spartacus...;)

    Legend of the Seeker was cool. I caught the seasons online finally. Maybe Tabrett should be the new Wonder Woman. She was one kick-ass babe.

  22. @Dirty
    you will like the second season of SEEKER since it's way better than the first one :)

    ah ha ha ... the bookmarks race is funny :))
    Get on with MERLIN since it will have four seasons in September

    I think Colin Morgan is the most adorable thing we've seen in TV like ever :) but I knew you would have hots for Lancelot and Gawain :)
    Tabrett really should be a CatWoman or a Wonder Woman or any kind of powerful super hero :)

  23. I must watch all the wrong shows - I've never seen any of these.

  24. I've only watched the first season of ROME amongst all of these, as I don't have cable (no time to catch up on them on DVD). So I can't really pick which one is best, I'd jus defer to you, Dezzy. I probably would vote for The Tudors as second choice because of Henry :D

  25. @Diane
    always here to enlighten people :P You must watch at least two of these, Diane! Fun guaranteed!

    you should at least watch THE TUDORS on DVD, Flixy. I don't have time either and none of these was broadcast on TV here, but I watched them one by one during weekend.

  26. Looks like I have some more watching to catch up on.

  27. Dany's dragons are the key to the magic of the series. And I doubt its success was based off just the fans of the books, as the books are once again on the best seller lists and you can watch the rise of the later books as folks who got hooked on the television series are moving down the list of books. Not to mention the Emmy nominations that the show has garnered.

  28. @Josh
    sure you do, Josh :)

    well I didn't say that all of the viewers were the readers, but most of them were. The success was also due to HBO standing behind the show.
    The Emmy nominations mean nothing, since Emmys are known as biased and they never had any depth. Giving nomination for example to Peter Dinklage was ridiculous because his performance wasn't anything special. He acted himself, not the character, and he is pretty much the same in all of his roles. That just shows that Emmy have a very strange criterion when nominating and giving awards.

  29. Merlin and Game of Thrones are tied for me. Merlin is more established, however, and has proved its worth over three seasons already, so I'd probably go with that :)

    1. I'd go for MERLIN too, GOT is overly dark and unnecessarily morbid.

  30. i love merlin and can't wait to see the next season. loved spartacus too. game of thrones and legend of the seeker i believe are ok. i'm yet to see the others

  31. Love all of the above, except Legend of the Seeker, only because i haven't seen it yet! I was totally addicted to Rome, to a slightly lesser degree to Spartacus, especially after loosing Andy Whitefield, he was Spartacus, and though Gods of the Arena and Vengence were both very good, it didn't have that spark of mischeivious humor that Andy brought to the show. My next major obsession was Game of Thrones...saw the first episode and bought all the books, read them before the season ended...then waited for Dance with Dragons, and now waiting anxiously for Winds of Winter and season three...I appreciate the differences between the book and tv series, because it is refreshing to have twists and turns that are new and not predictable to those of us who have read the books. My newest favorite is the Merlin Series...It is a refreshing depiction of the Once and Future King Arthur tale. Colin Morgan is fantastic as the humble, humorous young warlock who has wonderful chemistry with both Bradley James and the actor who plays Giaus. Colins smile is priceless, as is the humor that goes on between him and his costars. I was very disappointed with Camelot, especially since it had such an awesome cast that I expected more from. Fiennes depiction of Merlin was overly morbid and over dramatic. The highlight was the appearance of James Purefoy as King Lot. I am now looking forward to season three of Game of Thrones, and season five of Merlin. One last note, I found that having a less dark, and merky version of Arthur and Merlin was a pleasant surprise, and that plus the gorgeous scenery makes it great fun to watch.

    1. it seems that we agree on everything, Kim :) There isn't a single thing you've said that I don't agree with.

  32. Replies
    1. Too bad it was cancelled so quickly even though the second season was much better than the first one.