- Rome (TV series)
show_name = Rome
caption = "Rome" title screen (1st season)
aka = Roma
genre = Historical Drama
Bruno Heller John Milius
William J. MacDonald
Kevin McKiddRay Stevenson Polly Walker Lindsay Duncan James Purefoy Ciaran Hinds Tobias Menzies Kerry Condon Indira Varma Allen Leech Camilla Rutherford
country = UK
language = English
num_seasons = 2
num_episodes = 22
list_episodes = List of Rome episodes
Bruno Heller John Milius
William J. MacDonald
Frank Doelger Anne Thomopoulos John Melfi
runtime = approx. 50 min.
BBC/ HBO/ RAI
first_aired = 28 August 2005
last_aired = 25 March 2007
website = http://www.hbo.com/rome/
imdb_id = 0384766
tv_com_id = 23351
"Rome" is a BAFTA,
Golden Globeand Emmy-nominated historical drama television seriesco-created by John Milius, William J. MacDonald, and Bruno Heller. The series is primarily written by Heller. "Rome" was produced in Italyby the BBC(UK), HBO(USA), and RAI( Italy). The show's first season originally aired on HBO between 28 August and 20 November 2005, subsequently broadcast on BBC Onebetween 2 November 2005 and 4 January 2006, and on Rai Duebetween 17 March and 28 April 2006.
The show's second and final season opened on 14 January 2007 and ended on 25 March 2007 in the USA. In the UK the second season started on 20 June 2007, on
BBC Twoand ended on 24 July 2007. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/rome/ "Rome" second season - bbc.co.uk] ]
The series is a historical drama depicting the period of history surrounding the violent transformation of the
Roman Republicinto the Roman Empire; a change driven by civil warfare between radical "populares" and conservative " optimates", the decay of political institutions, and the actions of ambitious men and women. The HBO website provides the following introduction:
Half a century before the dawn of
Christianity, Rome has become the wealthiest city in the world, a cosmopolitan metropolis of one million people — epicenter of a sprawling empire. Founded on principles of shared power and fierce personal competition, the Republic was created to prevent any one man from seizing absolute control. It is a society where soldiers can rise up from provincial commoners to become national heroes, even leaders of the Republic. But as the ruling class became extravagantly wealthy, the foundations have crumbled, eaten away by corruption and excess, and the old values of Spartan discipline and social unity have given way to a great chasm between the classes. [ [http://www.hbo.com/rome/about/ HBO.com ~ About "Rome"] ]
While chronicling the lives and deeds of the rich, powerful and "historically significant," the series also focuses on the lives, fortunes, families and acquaintances of two common men: Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, two Roman soldiers mentioned historically in Caesar's "
Commentarii de Bello Gallico". The fictionalized Vorenus and Pullo manage to witness and often influence many of the historical events presented in the series.
Season 1 depicts Julius Caesar's civil war of 49 BC against the traditionalist conservative faction in the
Roman Senate, his subsequent rise to absolute dictatorship over Rome and his eventual fall, spanning the time period from the end of his Gallic Wars(52 BC or 701 " ab urbe condita") until his assassination on 15 March 44 BC (the infamous Ides of March). Against the backdrop of these cataclysmic events, we also see the early years of the young Octavian, who is destined to become the first Emperor of Rome, Augustus.
Season 2 chronicles the power struggle between Octavian and Mark Antony following Caesar's assassination, spanning the period from Caesar's death in 44 BC to Octavian's final victory over Antony at Actium in 31 BC.
In 2002, HBO and the
BBCagreed to co-produce a new series based on the events of the "Roman Revolution". Towards that end, the two networks committed a US$100 million budget to the production of twelve 1-hour episodes, with HBO contributing US$85 million, and the BBC contributing US$15 million. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/review/4526564.stm BBC News ~ "Small screen hits and misses"] ]
Between March 2004 and May 2005, "Rome" was filmed, in co-production with
RAI, in the Italian countryside, on six sound stages at Rome's Cinecittàstudios, and in a collection of massive sets in Cinecittà studios' back lots: five acres of outdoor sets which comprised an elaborate "period reconstruction" of sections of ancient Rome. It was a huge undertaking, with an international crew of 350, and more than 50 local Italian interns. The production is regarded as one of the most expensive in the history of TV series. Funding was generously employed to recreate an impressively detailed set featuring a number of Roman Villas, the forum and a vast slum area of the ancient city of Rome. A significant part of this set was later destroyed by a fire that burned down a portion of the Cinecittà Studios on 10 August 2007. [ [http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/news/e3i40151bae8632cd697c85d92842f4386b The Hollywood Reporter ~ "Fire hits Rome studios"] ] A portion of the set was also used in late 2007 by the crew of the long-running BBC sci-fi drama series " Doctor Who", for the fourth season episode " The Fires of Pompeii".
The series was filmed with the Panasonic SDX 900 DVCPro 50 professional camcorder, chosen after extensive camera tests and discussion. [ [http://www.vmi.tv/equipment/product-details/?pid=11 DVC Pro 50 Camcorder SDX-900] ] The production team wanted to replicate the look achieved with "Space Race". The camcorder was considered to be the most appropriate camera, both to achieve the look and to keep to the speedy shooting schedule. Mark Hedgecoe, series producer, said that the rich, filmic feel delivered by the camera was well-suited to capturing the gritty reality of the Roman Empire. He claimed that the camera provided a look which compared very favourably with HD. [ [http://www.vmi.tv/HD-today/back-issues/HDTodayno5.pdf Rome wasn't shot in a day, it was shot in HDX!] ]
The series was launched in the United States on 24 August 2005, at Wadsworth Theatre in
Los Angeles, California. HBO broadcast the series pilot (" The Stolen Eagle") four days later on 28 August 2005. According to the Nielsen ratings system, the pilot debuted to 3.8 million viewers, [Martin, Denise. [http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2008/09/hbo-premiere-tr.html "HBO's "True Blood": Audiences don't bite."] "The LOs Angeles Times". 9 September 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2008.] ultimately attracting more than 8.9 million viewers over eleven broadcasts, and achieved a 9.1 household rating for Sunday primetime. The series debuted to BBC Twopremiered "Rome" in the United Kingdom on 2 November 2005, attracting 6.6 million viewers (27%), only to have the viewing figures decline in future episodes with the finale only attracting 3 million viewers (13%). The season has also gone into international syndication, being broadcast in many countries around the globe, in several languages.
The series' first season garnered critical acclaim, with
Golden Globe Awardnominations for Best Dramatic Series and Best Performance by an Actress in a Dramatic Television Series for Polly Walker's portrayal of Atia of the Julii.
After the broadcast of only three first season episodes, HBO announced plans to produce a second season of "Rome" in 2006 for release in March 2007. [ [http://www.hbo.com/rome/news/ HBO "Rome" News ~ "HBO renews the epic drama series "Rome"] 12 September 2005] Subsequently in a news conference HBO Chairman Chris Albrecht confirmed that "Rome" season two would air on HBO in January 2007, but would not return for a third season. [ [http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-romeendingafterseason2,0,5831913.story?coll=zap-news-headlines Zap2it.com News ~ "Two and Out for "Rome"] ] The early denial of a third season appeared to center on the series' staggering costs.Fact|date=January 2008.
The second season premiered 14 January 2007, with the first episode attracting 7.5 million viewers.Fact|date=June 2007 The final episode aired on 25 March 2007 in the U.S. The first episode of the second season aired on
BBC 2on 20 June 2007.
Cast and characters
"Rome" features both fictional characters as well as those loosely based on historical figures. According to the [http://www.hbo.com/rome/cast/ official HBO "Rome" series website] , the main characters are:
# The character of Octavian was aged and recast starting with season 2, episode #16 (2-4)
# Caesarion appeared as a baby in arms in season 1, episode #08 (1-8), and was aged and recast in season 2, episode #20 (2-8)
Audio commentary on the Season 1 DVD [ (2005) (Released 2006).] indicates that many of the background performers used in the series were also their true professional counterparts. One example is that the actor shown in the series working as a butcher on the streets of Rome was in fact a real-life butcher.
The BBC editing controversy
Some scenes in episodes of Season 1 of the series have been edited for airing on the
BBCin order to remove some of the stronger language which is deemed unacceptable for prime-time viewing on terrestrial British television (specifically the use of the word " cunt").Fact|date=January 2008 This has been criticized by many,Fact|date=May 2007 who point to the fact that other HBO programs such as " The Sopranos" and "Oz" have been broadcast uncut on British network television; however, "Rome" is broadcast at an earlier time than the other two programs and the BBC was aiming at a more general audience than Channel 4was with "The Sopranos" and "Oz".Fact|date=May 2007
In a separate move, the BBC also decided to re-edit the first three episodes (all directed by Michael Apted) into two episodes. The BBC claimed that this was because the British audience were more familiar with the history of Rome than their American counterparts and so much of the back story was unnecessary; however, Apted claims that the purpose was to boost the ratings by increasing the prominence of the scenes of sex and violence. In an interview with "
The Times", [ [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/article1081475.ece TimesOnline UK ~ "They sexed up my Roman orgy, says director"] ] Apted was quoted saying:
"I'm really pissed off with the BBC for bringing down my first three episodes to two and, in doing so, taking out much of the vital politics. What also makes me very grumpy is that I was told that the cuts had been introduced by the BBC because they thought British viewers already knew the historical background. But all that's happened as far as the viewer is concerned is that it has made 'Rome' hard to follow."Apted also said that he only found out about the cuts by accident claiming:
"I only found out by chance a couple of weeks ago when one of the actors told me."
However, the original uncut versions of Season 1 episodes have since been shown in the UK on
UKTV Drama, the channel having aired two episodes every Saturday, with only the title credits cut from the second episode shown every week. This run coincided with the UK screenings of Season 2 on BBC Two.
The RAI editing controversy
The Italian broadcasting of the series was also marred by controversy.Fact|date=November 2007 Strong language was removed in the Italian dubbing process; as for the more explicit
sex scenesand disturbing violence, they were replaced by "safe" alternative versions shot during production especially for the Italian broadcast. [ [http://www.repubblica.it/2005/k/sezioni/spettacoli_e_cultura/fictiontv5/roma/roma.html Repubblica.it article (Italian)] ] The original version of the series has never been broadcast on Italian TV.
Chronology of Rome (TV series)for a timeline of relevant historical events"
There are numerous inaccuracies in the series' representation of various historical events and personages. Creator
Bruno Hellerhas said that "We try to balance between what people expect from previous portrayals and a naturalistic approach ... This series is much more about how the psychology of the characters affects history than simply following the history as we know it." [ [http://www.hbo.com/rome/news/pr_executiveproducers.html HBO.com ~ "Rome" News] 8 January 2007] The series' Historical Consultant Jonathan Stamp also notes that the show aims for "authenticity" rather than "accuracy." [DVD: "Rome: The Complete First Season", "When In Rome" featurette.] [ [http://thinkexist.com/quotes/jonathan_stamp/ ThinkExist.com ~ Jonathan Stamp quotes] ] The film-makers stressed that they wanted to portray a more accurate picture of Rome, a gritty and realistic city as opposed to what they call the "HollyRome" that appears in films like "Gladiator (2000)".Although Lucius Vorenusand Titus Pulloare historical figures mentioned briefly in Caesar's "Commentarii de Bello Gallico", their adventures and involvement in key events in the series are fictionalized. "Rome" also typically ignores the existence of certain extended family members of people featured as main characters, such as relatives of Julius Caesar, Mark Antonyand Atia Balba Caesonia. The most significant dramatic license taken in the series, however, is the manipulation of the historical timelinefor storytelling purposes.
Some important events are not mentioned in "Rome", including the whole year spent before the
Battle of Pharsalusin which Caesar drove Pompeius's supporters out of Hispania, and the Battle of Dyrrhachium in which Pompeius defeated Caesar. Many significant members of the Optimates, the traditionalist faction of Brutus and Cato, are also missing from the series. They include Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, Titus Labienus, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, Lucius Cornelius Lentulus Crus, and Publius Cornelius Lentulus Spinther, the latter having failed to empty Rome's treasury before the "optimates"' departure, resulting in a severe lack of funds to support their war effort.
Further discrepancies are noted in detail in the appropriate articles for related episodes and characters from "Rome".
The entire first season of "Rome" was released as a six-disc Region 1
DVDbox set in the USAon 15 August 2006. It was distributed by HBO Home Video. Featuring all 12 episodes, it also includes several extra DVD features like episode commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage and making-of features. The same set (bar the episodic previews and recaps) was released on 24 July 2006 in Region 2, also entitled "Rome: The Complete First Season".
Season 2 was released in North America on 7 August 2007. [ [http://www.movieweb.com/dvd/release/50/123750/features.php "Rome": Second Season DVD - MovieWeb.com] ]
According to Ray Stevenson in a 27 February 2008 interview with movieweb.com a "Rome" movie is in the works."Well, Bruno started working on the script, and then they called the writers strike. You'd have to make a call to Bruno Heller and people like that. I'm not sure what HBO's legal position or involvement or ownership issues... I mean, these are all being discussed by other people. All I can say is that there's positive talk about it. I wish I could sit here and tell you more, because I'd probably be more excited than you would be, but I'm just quietly keeping everything crossed, and encouraging from my sideline position." says Ray. [ [http://www.movieweb.com/news/02/26902.php "Ray Stevenson Confirms a "Rome" Movie Is in the Works"] ]
Awards and nominations
*Art Directors Guild Award:
**2005: Excellence in Production Design for a Television Series - Single Camera (for the episode "
The Stolen Eagle")
**2005: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Primetime Dramatic Series (for the episode "
The Stolen Eagle")
**2006: Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series (for the episodes "Caesarion", "Triumph" and "
Kalends of February")
**2006: Outstanding Costumes for a Series (for the episode "Triumph")
**2006: Outstanding Hairstyling for a Series (for the episode "
Stealing from Saturn")
**2006: Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series (for the episode "
The Stolen Eagle")
**2007: Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series
**2007: Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series
**2007: Outstanding Hairstyling for a Series (for the episode "De Patre Vostro (About Your Father)")
*Visual Effects Society Awards:
**2005: Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series (for the episode "
The Stolen Eagle")
Cinema Audio Society Awards:
**2005: Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series (for the episode "The Spoils")
**2006: Outstanding Main Title Design
**2006: Outstanding Makeup for a Series, Non-Prosthetic (for the episode "Caesarion")
**2006: Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (for the episode "Triumph")
**2006: Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music
**2007: Outstanding Costumes for a Series (for the episode "
De Patre Vostro (About Your Father)")
**2007: Outstanding Makeup for a Series, Non-Prosthetic (for the episode "De Patre Vostro (About Your Father)")
**2007: Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (for the episode "Philippi")
**2007: Outstanding Visual Effects for a Series (for the episode "Philippi")
Golden Globe Awards:
**2005: (Polly Walker)
Royal Television Society:
**2005: Best Visual Effects - Digital Effects
**2005: Best Television Series - Drama
**2005: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (
Writers Guild of America Awards:
**2005: Outstanding Writing for a New Series
List of United States television series cancelled or ended after 2006 season
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1606415,00.html "Hail Caesar" ~ "Guardian" review of Season 1]
* [http://www.salon.com/ent/tv/review/2007/01/12/rome/ Salon.com review of Season 2]
* [http://www.beliefnet.com/story/209/story_20922_1.html# Beliefnet on religion in "Rome"]
*Stanley, Alessandra. [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/21/arts/television/21stan.html "HBO's Roman Holiday." "The New York Times"] (Review of Season1) 21 August 2005.
*Stanley, Alessandra. [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/12/arts/television/12rome.html?ref=television "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lovers, Haters, Murderers, Barbarians ..." "The New York Times"] (Review of Season 2) 12 January 2007.
* [http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/elfman/206357,CST-FTR-wwelf11.article "Chicago Sun Times" review of Season 2]
*Carter, Bill. [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/17/arts/television/17hbo.html?8hpib "HBO Takes the ABC Sunday Challenge." "The New York Times"] 17 November 2005.
*Harvey, Jr., Paul B. [http://www.archaeology.org/online/reviews/hborome/index.html "Rome yet Again." Archaeology.org] 6 September 2005.
* [http://www.star-ecentral.com/news/story.asp?file=/2005/12/4/movies/12688812&sec=movies The Star eCentral] interview with Ray Stevenson
* [http://www.darkhorizons.com/news06/060420c.php Dark Horizons] reporting on the 2nd season production of "Rome"
* [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/article1081475.ece Times Online] reporting on Michael Apted's opinion on the BBC re-editing.
* [http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/article301393.ece "New $100m TV epic set to rewrite history"] - "The Independent" (UK), 25 July 2005
* [http://news.com.com/HBO+enlists+Mozilla+of+series+promotion/2100-1032_3-5833861.html "HBO enlists Firefox for series promotion"] - CNet News.com, 15 August 2005
* [http://www.slantmagazine.com/tv/tv_review.asp?ID=15 "Slant" Magazine Review]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/fivelive_aod.shtml?fivelive/lindsay_duncan Lindsay Duncan (Servilia) interview] - BBC Five Live, 11 November 2005
* [http://media.guardian.co.uk/overnights/story/0,,1678599,00.html "Rome's bloody climax wins 3m"] - Report on the final episode viewing figures for "Rome", "Guardian Unlimited", 5 January 2006
* [http://www.hbo.com/rome/ "Rome" - Official HBO website]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/rome/ "Rome" - Official BBC Drama website]
* [http://www.roma.rai.it/ "Roma" - Official RAI website]
* [http://www.canalplus.fr/pid848.htm "Rome" - Official Canal+ website]
* [http://www.tv.com/rome/show/23351/forums.html Discussion Forum] at
* [http://tviv.org/wiki/Rome Rome Episode Guide] at the TV IV Wiki.
* [http://www.cuatro.com/roma/ Roma - Cuatro]
* [http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Article/647100 Historical writings about Vorenus and Pullo]
* [http://www.metacritic.com/tv/shows/romeseason2 "Rome: Season 2" Reviews] at
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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