Thursday, May 31, 2007


I have been completely immersed for most of the week watching all 22 hours of
which I hereby proclaim as THE greatest TV mini series EVER!
Do you remember any of these?
1976 Rich Man Poor Man
1977 Roots
1980 Shogun
1983 Winds Of War
1984 The Thornbirds
1985 North And South
1989 Lonesome Dove
1990 Twin Peaks
2002 Band Of Brothers
2005 Rome
This BBC/HBO series is an intelligent, sexy, and thoughtful examination of the violent, tumultuous, soap opera that kidnapped the lives of the most famous characters (cast)in Rome from 52 to 30 BC (Julius Caesar to Ocavian/Augustus)

Like most of you I received my first taste of Roman History from the Nativity story in the Bible and the 1963 Blockbuster CLEOPATRA. Cleopatra was the most expensive movie ever made (fun facts here goofs )and starred Rex Harrison, Richard Burton, and of course
Elizabeth Taylor, who became the first actor to be paid $1,000,000 and villified for her scandalous offscreen behavior with her costar Burton. The Liz and Dick affair that eerily mirrored the behavior of their characters caused an international sensation and their subsequent escapades became the 'stuff' of legend as they were hounded by the tabloids from that day forward.

This movie revealed that Caesar had epilepsy, Antony was a love machine,
and that Cleopatra was a feisty regal feminista who used her brain and her sexuality to snag both Caesar and Antony. Unfortunately she pinned her hopes on the wrong horses and of course ended her life with the most famous serpentine suicide in a history!

ROME is a splendid, hypnotizing, examination of how the economic, religious, and political spectrum of this city of one million inhabitants survived the civil war between the Senate and the Caesars.
Marvellous details about the day to day lives of the Patricians, Plebes and Slaves are beautifully revealed. So much effort was put into portraying the everyday experiences o
f all of the characters from the bottom of the barrel to the very top of this highly stratified Class and Militaristic Society.

I had to refresh my memory and get all of my Caesars (Czars/Kaisers
) in order …and all those names with those 3 praenomen, cognomen, and agnomen whatchamacallitus. Here is how they decided those names Etymology_of_the_name_of_Julius_Caesar.

only covers the years from
Julius crossing the Rubicon river to Octavian'svictory over Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra but here is a quick review of the EMPERORS:

(Octavian/Augustus is actually the first Emporer)
Nowadays we just reference their popular names:

Julius Caesar was Emperor from 49 to 44 BC
Born in 100 BC as Gaius Julius Caesar

Caesar Augustus was Emperor from 44 to14 BC
(Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus Augustus)
born in 63 BC as Gaius Octavius

Tiberius was Emperor from 14 to 37
(Tiberius Caesar Augustus)
Born in 42 BC as Tiberius Claudius Nero

Caligula was Emperor from 37 to 41
(Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus)
Born in 12 AD as Gaius Juluis Caesar Augustus Germanicus

Claudius was Emperor from 41 to 54
(Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus)
Born in 10 BC as Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus

Nero was Emperor from 54 to 68
(Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus)
Born in 37 AD as Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus

Here is a family tree to help sort through this JulioClaudian.png

If you love historical fiction dramas you will absolutely love ROME thanks to the startling honest approach to sex and violence that the creators have presented in such a matter of fact and mature fashion.

The story of how a 500 year old Republic that prided itself on the idealism of giving the power to the people instead of living under the whim and Tyranny of Kings...sound familar? The illusion of the common people trying to control their everyday lives and their ultimate destiny while LIFE and the ruling class are busy making other plans.

It reminds me of a few lines that Don Henley sang in
The End Of The Innocence.

O beautiful, for spacious skies
But now those skies are threatening
They're beating plowshares into swords
For this tired old man that we elected king
Armchair warriors often fail
And weve been poisoned by these fairy tales

What is your favoritus hitorical movie or miniseries ?
and why does history keep repeating?


  1. did you ever see the BBC's I Claudius? with the brilliant Derek Jacobi as Claudius? made in the late 70s I think. . .

    it looks very dated now, and is far more "theatrical" to watch than Rome, but I think you'd like it

  2. I was going to mention "I, Claudius" and "Claudius, the God" as the books by Robert Graves, on which the Beeb based that Jacobi series.Great stuff!
    As to the reason we repeat our mistakes...maybe we're hard-wired for masochistic experience?

  3. Slightly off topic but of some interest to you... I went and saw The US vs John Lennon last night, a doco on the US survielence and interference in John Lennons Immigration appeals. Amazing movie, if you get a chance go see it.

    They gave the power to the people, we ended up with organised Mob rule, blood thristy games from boredom, orgies, drugs, and soiled togas, what does that say about people. One of the greatest civilisations reduced to squalar at the hands of the masses.

    ALthough i will admit their history wasnt boring.
    Almost makes me want to get a TV

  4. I vote for "Smiley's People". No togas, but not bad nevertheless.
    I don't suppose we will ever get to see GFNewman's "Law and Order" again.

    Now, were those obscure enough for you?

  5. Anonymous4:40 p.m.

    I couldn't pick a favourite, but did anyone see 'Alexander'? Oh. Dear. God. I think I'd've preferred the ole serpentine suicide...

    History keeps repeting itself because we humans like to live our lives with our eyes closed.

    Or as my dad would say - because they don't teach history like they used to.


  6. just to clarify in my tangental mind...

    They in the second paragraph meaning the romans... "Oh your father was a Woman"

  7. My favorite histerical, erm, historical film is Monty Python's The Life of Brian. I think it's a wonderful portrayal of social behavoir and mob mentality in first century Palestine.

  8. I loved Rome - I also saw the making in HBO and it was riveting.

    Erm...I also loooooved 300...for more reasons than its supposed historical significance. LOL!

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Did Caesar have a cute butt? If so I may have seen a series on him.


  11. My son watches Rome religiously. It's one of his favorite shows. I, personally, haven't watched a miniseries since Lonesome Dove was first on TV.

  12. Grumbulus Rex12:01 a.m.

    Dunno about favorites (weening
    off the TV... ouch!) though Rome was pretty good, if directionless.
    You northerners could free
    yourselves of the burdens of history, if you'd jist let th' Texas SKool Board give yer text books th' once-over, fer frivolous
    er Godless fiction. Tain't no more
    then th' story o' wher' we been.
    How's that gonna hep us win the next 'lection?

  13. I seldom watch TV but I do watch historical series. Not only for obvious reasons but also for costumes, dialogues and/or to just have a dekko at the characters.

    There are many Hindi series which are very engrossing.

    As for as why History keeps repeating, my guess is as good as yours..:D

    And why haven't you left your blog world for while to visit the likes of me?

    Do I resort to threatening you?

  14. oh - I'm with vicus

    Smiley's People - fab - in fact all of J le C's work (altho much as I love Alec Guiness, maybe I do prefer the books)

    ever read The Naive and Sentimental Lover?

  15. I'm not so hot on historical movies, but historical books is a whole other kettle of fish. A couple of my all-time favourites are "Pillars Of The Earth" by Ken Follett, although it takes patience to read, and "Year of Wonder" by Geraldine Brooks. Check 'em out if you can.

  16. Ooh, I LOVED Pillars of the Earth! I couldn't put it down. have you tried anything by Edward Rutherford? I highly recommend 'London.'

  17. Have to agree with the fans of I Claudius but I also liked Roots and Heimat, which was a German drama following the lives of several generations of a family from a village, starting in around 1900. Mind you, it seemed to take that long to watch!

  18. Another vote here for Pillars of the Earth.

  19. i like the view,
    Yes I have and it is quite dated and playish but well done. I like a little zing with my history.

    We haven't learned a bloody thing in 2,000 years! Hands up all of you who got to vote on declaring war on Iraq? How many agreed to send troops?

    I was intrigued with the Roman view that the gods were out to get you and that absolutes didn't have any meaning.
    Human life for the lower classes was so expendable..shockingly easy to kill someone.

    Who doesn't appreciate ol (Alec Guiness)Smiley waving his hand and telling the KGB agent in his finest nasal wonderment..
    "These aren't the droids that we're looking can be on your way"

    Alexfrickinzander was a disaster! I was so excited and the imagery was fine enough but the story was bor-ring.
    I did enjoy Angelina's romp as a ssssssssexy young hungarian snake lovin' mama.

    Clear as mud!

    chaucer's bitch,
    It is in my top twenty movies EVER!
    Every scene was funny..
    I cry watching that movie
    "Are there any women here?"
    "Bloody Romans what have they ever done for us?"
    "Crucifiction? No Freedom actually"
    "Are there any Woderwicks?"
    "I'm a Red Sea Pedestrian!"

    Really! Why would 300 be so interesting... aside from all of the rippling muscles?

    commentu deletus,
    Can't help you if you hang up.

  20. I enjoyed Band of Brothers and I'd like to see Rome.

    Unrelated, have you seen the documentary Sharkwater. I saw a preview and thought of you.

  21. Rome kicks ass! I love that show. I haven't seen it end to end but what I have done is great.
    I love historical shows and I have to say that Rutherford's Sarum was one of the most amazing books I ever read.
    I love being able to order movies online and send them back when I'm done. It makes it easier to watch the series without having to buy them. Yay Netflix!

  22. Loved the 1994 PBS series "Baseball".
    Who knew that baseball would be that interesting?

  23. another one for 'I, Cladius'!

    weirdly enough, for historical roman fiction/fact type stuff, Penthouse magazines 'Caligula' got a lot right...and then of course there's the unfeaseably large ring scene, and the short man with three legs scene, and the Tiberius in the grotto scene, and the Drusilla doing a Lindsay Lohan on the duvet...ahem.
    but the greatest miniseries of ALL TIMES???


    4. Six Wives of Henry VIII
    5. North and South (which ranks #1 for the best theme song ever.."Asokan Lament")

  24. ah!


    Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews and the teddy bear

    *goes off in dreamy reverie*


  25. A long time ago I worked at a restaurant called the Coliseum and it had the names of all the Roman emperors around the room.
    I've always wondered whether Vespasian gave his name to the Vespa.

  26. I remember when all those miniseries were on, but I didn't watch any of them. I saw Roots later on videotape. Twin Peaks I watched religiously, but it wasn't a miniseries, since it was on every week for about three years.

    I always had a problem with having to schedule my time around a TV show. I haven't watched ANYTHING on TV for the last couple of years.

  27. I remember and have seen every one of these mini series. Cleopatra was my fav film.
    I was speaking to a friend today, she is Indian, and I was asking her if she remembered a mini series that was about a young dashing Enlgishman who falls for an Indian woman who is the concubine of an elderly royal Indian. They fall in love, get stuck in a cave together for one night during a sand storm, and it is a lovethat cannot be. Elderly Indian man dies, his concubines are to be burnt alive with him in front of everyone, English man saves his love, but they have to shoot her sister because they cannot bear to see her die of the fire.

  28. grumblor repetitus2:03 p.m.

    Come to think of it, that one actress was as prominent as a pair
    of thumbs - didn't think that the
    Romans had much use for liquid
    nitrogen. Jist goes ter show thet ya larn somethin' new, ever' day.

    As to history: it sneaks up, with a stealth proportional to the level of prevailing distractions.

  29. Sounds fascinating.
    I wonder if it will come out on DVD so I can rent it?
    I don't watch much TV except what I remember to tape. I like film and TV, just haven't had the time. (Hopefully, I can cut back my horrendously long work hours in the near future, so I can have a life back.)

    From your list, there is only one series I saw, but I think it was more for the romance factor, since I was a teenager at the time.

  30. Ok!! UPDATE!!

    BBC's series, Jane Eyre, starring Timothy Dalton as Mr. Rochester. I just watched it, beginning to end, on Friday night. FREAKING AWESOME! I've seen the movies (starring Orson Welles in the B&W version, and William Hurt in the more recent one) and they don't stand up to the BBC series. It was hilarious however, when Mr. Rochester goes on about how un-handsome he is, and I'm like...Dude!! You're Timothy Dalton, could you BE better looking???? Cry me a river already.

  31. hi christine,
    Sharkwater and now sharks 3D @ IMAX (and 300!) are on our list.
    Band of brothers was quite unbelievable eh? How did those guys keep their noodles together for that many years? How?

    Netflix is workin' for ya? Sarum is a book not yet a filmatic experience I take it.

    Ken Burns always does an amazing job on every doc, I think that I've , jazz, civil war and Jefferson.

    first nations,
    I hate to admit that I have never seen the entire Penthouse extravanganza loaded to the brim with REAL actors and authentic debauchery! WOW you loved brideshead too.
    I am looking forward to the Tudors this fall.

    I like the view,
    Not you too!

    He showed up right after these guys. He introduced a tax on peeing in public urinals or nothing sacred?

    miss cellania,
    Where was Twin Peaks on for three years? You have obviously discovered a way to free yourself from the idiot box, bravo! I myself cannot thanks to PBS/Frontline being one of my primary sources of information that doesn't appear to be OK'd by the White House

    We should ask around and find out even though you just told me the whole storyline and added the spoiler!
    I somehow knew that you would love historical miniseries..that was a pretty safe bet.

    grumblecus maximus,
    Liquid nitro eh? I suppose you have a point there old chap if there is a lot going on by jove before you know it a fortnight has passed and nobody is any worse for wear Ho hoho jolly good! What 's that on the telly?

    It is out on DVD but now I cannot help but wonder which romantic epic captivated the young impressionable gel of so many years ago.
    Did it fill your schoolgirl heart with dreams of ever after?

    Timothy Dalton floats yer boat does he? I take it that the Orson Welles version was filmed before he had his own Zip Code? William Hurt is too weird to be a romantic lead..remember Body Heat (81) when he tossed the chair threw the door because he was in heat and he had to have Kathleen Turner NOW! I hated watching everyone sweat for two hours.. gross!

  32. *Ahem*, Monsieur H.E., said ever so gently, but firmly correcting "the facts, sir."

    "of so many years ago", my (firm) tushie!! No way!
    Get your facts straight please. :)

    The way to a woman's anything is not by inferring that high school was years away.
    I am an but an inn-oh-scent young thang... I never said on my blogs whether Sapphire is my birth daughter...
    (P.S. Don't worry; you didn't offend me; gives me a good excuse to razz you and I love to razz people I like on blogs. )


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