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+