10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
European TV series charting the heights of Borgia power in 15th Century,
This review is from: Borgia - Complete Season One [DVD] (DVD)
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It's an interesting comparison, to see this series following the machinations of the Borgia family from 1492 onwards, so soon after the somewhat higher profile seemingly identically pitched Jeremy Irons starring version. While the two cover pretty much exactly the same ground story wise, they do dwell on different aspects of the Borgia and although I had seen the Irons version, I still enjoyed this.
I would suggest the performance of Pope Alexander here is a little more nuanced.. as I started watching it, I felt his performance was too reserved, but as the character developed it really did have layers.. not just an inhuman Machiavellan character, but someone who can order heinous crimes one moment, and cherish their family and show a soft spot for them the next. The supporting cast all work well, and the character of Cesare in particular is well developed here.
There is certainly an abundance of sex, but then there appears to have been in the Papal household at that time.. and if it seems "unattractive" to watch the pensioner Pope thrusting himself at a beautiful young waif.. well perhaps you're supposed to be uncomfortable. And on the other side of the scale, some of the tortures / executions are quite horrific, to the point of feeling voyeuristic rather than informative. Production design works ok, it's not as convincing and varied as the Hollywood version, but enough quality to keep you from being distracted from the plot, and the sparingly used cgi in establishing shots is pretty good by TV standards.
All in all a perfectly interesting historical series worth watching,though on the sensationalist side.. and if you've seen the Irons version, it does cover much of the same ground. Both of them, it has to be said, have been accused of not being terribly close to the known facts. It's fair to say these are more pulpy entertainment than serious historical opus.. but at least it got me going to the internet and books to find out a little more to separate the fact from fiction. For my future TV watching pleasure however, I'd be hard pressed between the two Borgia series to decide which one I would like to carry on watching into Season 2, if I have to choose between them..
p.s. - take care when picking your series, the Jeremy Irons versions is the Borgias with an s, and this European version is Borgia, with no s.