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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Borgias review

We thought it would be best if the non-Catholic blogger wrote this post, so it wouldn’t be biased. That way, we would be giving a chance. But even the non-Catholic didn’t like it.

The Borgias are not boring, but the two-hour premiere of the TV show was. Hey, at least it was better than The Tudors. There was SO MUCH potential here. The actual history is rich, soapy, and violent. There’s even some incest (no, the TV show didn’t just add that awkward sibling moment in for the heck of it). But this TV show had the pacing of the first season of HBO’s Rome without Rome’s quality.

The tone of Showtime’s The Borgias was cold, distant, and scattered. We never got a reason to care or a sense of why these characters were doing what they were doing. For the most part, we don’t know who they are.

On the sex: There wasn’t THAT much sex and nudity (for a Showtime medieval show), but parts of it seemed decidedly porn-y. The whipping scene was a touch homoerotic. The little sister played the naïve, little-girl, sexpot card throughout the premiere. And when the pope got his new mistress, it started with a confessional scene. It was the equivalent of “I’ve been such a bad girl” and “Well, then a whipping is in order.” Bleck. Are we just imagining the subtle attempts to lure viewers with common, cliché male turn-ons here? This blogger actually doesn’t mind sex scenes at all, but there needs to be more to TV than that, otherwise, just go watch porn.

Jeremy Irons was fine. Not excellent. The character we liked so far was the cardinal challenging him. It’s important to have a good actor playing the main character’s nemesis.

During the last 20 minutes, the show picked up in pacing. We liked the last 20 minutes. Most of the second half worked and focused on the intrigue. But the first half was unbearably boring.

For good TV, we need to care and we need the story to be more than “The Pope has sex, oh my!” If this could turn into a The Godfather-type thing, we would be into it. A Pope having sex hundreds of years ago doesn’t shock us, doesn’t do much to discredit the Catholic church today, and doesn’t entertain us as much as power struggles and actual DEPTH would.

In any case, this is one to wait on. Wait for the DVD, if you hear from us or others that it gets better. There are many things on TV that are more worth your time, and this would be more addictive in a season-long DVD binge, rather than week-by-week. So far, it’s very shallow, very stupid, and very dull.

Episode grade: D+


  1. Well, that stinks. I'm glad I didn't watch it, then. Will DVR it for a rainy day, but it doens't sound like I missed much. Such an interesting time in history, too. So much material to work with; think Hannibal Lector meets religion. Shame.

  2. It could get better, or you might like it just because of the history aspect, no matter how good it is as actual TV.

    And sometimes pilots are uncharacteristic of shows at large. They try to draw in a certain audience, and then they settle down and get down to the meat of a show.

    This show may figure out that it can't rely on its concept and that it has to start building some characters, relationships, and tension.

  3. I agree that is was amateurish and like cheap porn - very cliche in fact. Being a huge fan of the Tudors series, I was so looking forward to another series that captured the intrigue of a medieval time. The Borgias is not even in the same league at all; it is like scary fantasy. I will not waste my time on any more episodes of the Borgias.

  4. We're gonna waste our time on a few more, but only because pilots are sometimes wonky before they get further into the story. We won't give it much longer though, if it continiues to be cliche.

    We will let you know if it gets better, but we're glad you agree. We were unsure about putting up such a strongly negative review, because some people might have loved it.

  5. There is another version called Borgia that looks very good which is being filmed at present in Prague. Created by Tom Fontana.

  6. Hopefully it's a little better. It's a good subject.