Monday, 24 June 2013

TV: Da Vinci's Demons (S1) (6/10)

Why did I watch it?
My interest in this new Starz show was three fold, one its historical, two it's set in Florence during the Renaissance and I enjoyed that setting when playing Assassin's Creed II and thirdly it was created and predominantly written by David. S. Goyer, a chief part of the writing brains behind The Dark Knight trilogy.

What's it all about?
Set in Florence, the show follows 25 year old Leonardo Da Vinci (Tom Riley) as he becomes embroiled in the political scheming between Florence and Rome all the while trying to uncover secrets of his heritage.

Should you watch it?

Ultimately I was disappointed with Demons considering it's creator. When the show was announced I wondered what 'demons' the title was referring to and it's these demons that for me detract from the narrative's stronger elements. The show is strongest when Da Vinci is caught up in the power struggle fought between the Medici's and the Pope through his sly nephew Count Riario. 

The 'demons' element weakens Da Vinci and has him fighting a repressed childhood memory while hunting for clues of his mother. He is contacted by the Son's of Mithras, who instruct him to access the Fountain of Memory to find the Vault of Heaven where he will find the Book of Leaves. Seriously, you couldn't make it up. The Book of Leaves will probably be followed by the Turd of Glory.

In terms of historical accuracy the show is tongue in cheek and pretty good fun. For me Da Vinci is a bearded old man, but here is he reinvented as a cool, fast talking, talented sword fighter. I wondered if Goyer would stay true to dialogue of the time but this was answered in the first ten seconds of the opening episode when Hugh Bonneville, in a cameo as the Duke of Milan, responds 'Balls!' to be told he was late! Tom Riley is charismatic as Leonardo and is well supported by Elliot Cowan as Lorenzo de Medici and Blake Ritson as Count Riario.

The production is glossy and features some decent CGI used to illustrate Da Vinci's brain at work as he plots and develops his inventions.

The finale was disappointing finishing not just following a cliffhanger but midway through one which I found incredibly unsatisfying. At only eight episodes, the season was the perfect length, short and punchy and the show has been renewed for another round in 2014.

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