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Cast

Episode credited cast:
Leif Anders ...
Narrator
Paul Bicknell ...
(voice)
Andre de Nesnera ...
(voice)
Rome Knight ...
(voice)
Sam Mercurio ...
(voice)
Herb Otter Jr. ...
(voice) (as Michael Bihnat)
Karl Otter ...
(voice)
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Genres:

History | War

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Release Date:

8 September 2008 (UK)  »

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Bring 'em on.
10 December 2010 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

Let's see. I've watched about half a dozen hour-long episodes so far and I must admit they're getting me confused and a little bored. I'm as interested in the history of the Roman Empire as the next guy but except for the episodes on Spartacus and Julius Caesar it's getting hard to keep them straight, though I've watched them roughly in their historical order.

This one takes place in the middle of the first century AD when Rome was at its height. A popular general successfully battles the Barbarians on the edge of the empire in what is now Bulgaria but was then called Moesia. I've forgotten the name of the general and, since it appears nowhere in print in connection with this series, I can't retrieve it.

Anyway, back in Rome, the emperor Philip frets. When a general gets too popular on the frontier, things happen. Well -- look at Julius Caesar. So Philip sends his old friend, whose name also escapes me, to take care of things in Moesia. The old friend, a devoted pagan in a time when Christianity was on the rise, rubs out the rebellious frontier general but then finds that he rather likes the position himself -- head of a whole Roman army -- so he decides to become independent of Rome.

This causes Philip -- whose name I'm a little proud of remembering -- to muster his own army, take it to Moesia, and unseat his ex-friend. He doesn't do it. He gets bumped off himself. And his old ex-friend, the devoted Paganist, becomes emperor. The Paganist begins to rub out the Christians, blaming them for the latest of Rome's recurring plagues. The Goths now begin testing the empire's border. Everything seems to be going to hell.

As usual, there is a good deal of violence of all sorts. Christians get their heads lopped off, or they retreat to the borders where the barbaric Goths do it for them, taking the women and children hostages. Roman villages are pillaged. The natural landscape looks pretty much like Moesia must have looked -- dark, dank forests. Some of the battles take place in Macedonia, which still looks that way.

But it's all getting to be radically repetitious. The same stunt men doing the same back flips. The same villages being pillaged. And the actor who plays the rebellious frontier general looks a lot like the Lithuanian muscle man who played Spartacus, if you ask me. Or maybe it's just that the hair cuts are as fungible as the chromosomes in the Lithuanian gene pool.

By this time I'm beginning to ache for more than just a series of battles against Barbarians in a northern forest. Granted, a lot of knowledge has been plowed into the series, but almost all of it has to do with power and the military. If Christianity is brought up, it's only because Christians provided scapegoats for the terrified Romans dying of plague. You know, an opportunity for more heads to roll. But what about the humanities and sciences: the poetry, the architecture, the dramaturgy, the philosophy? Didn't the Romans have anything to contribute along those lines? What did they EAT? I won't even bother to mention their sometimes curious sex practices, he said paralipsisly. The picture of Rome we get (so far) from this series is that of a mighty military machine run by a series of dictators, always engaged in battle against a horde of Barbarians in a northern forest.

Peace, brothers and sisters.


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