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"The Borgias"
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"The Borgias" More at IMDbPro »

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121 out of 156 people found the following review useful:

There is only one word to describe this : Brilliant

Author: speedy006 from Slovenia
3 April 2011

I watched many historian series, like Rome, Tudors, or Ivanhoe. All these series were good, in my opinion Rome was the best and i thought that it would be impossible to make better series in that genre. Judging on pilot of the Borgias i was wrong. Casting is spectacular, all the actors are brilliant in their roles, specially Jeremy Irons as pope Alexander, and Colm Feore as cardinal. Storyline is swift, with good tempo, and also very interesting. Maybe there are some holes in historical view, but despite that series is Brilliant. I can't wait for more, and if it stays on this track, it will be one of the best series ever made! It is a shame they don't give Oscars for TV performances. Jeremy Irons would deserve one just for starring in pilot of the series !!!

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89 out of 107 people found the following review useful:


Author: jacksondoug3 from United States
3 April 2011

The best word to describe this show is 'beautiful'. The sets and costumes, like other reviewers have pointed out, are stunning. Everything flows together cohesively, and nothing feels out of place or awkward.

Going into this show, from the buzz surrounding it, I was expecting a soap opera, akin to The Tudors. Calling it a soap opera, however, really doesn't do the show justice. From what I've seen thus far, I'd compare it more to HBO's Deadwood or Rome. Sure, it shares some elements with soap operas, but it's so much more. It's hard to describe without giving out spoilers, though, so you'll just have to see for yourself.

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91 out of 116 people found the following review useful:

Superbly Addicting

Author: Traline Spencer ( from North Carolina, United States
3 April 2011

I loved every minute of this pilot. I was a little unsure at first when I read the show's summary because I'm usually not a fan of period drama. But I am huge fan of European history and have always thought the Borgias family contributed some of the most interesting stories in Rome's history. So, because of that, I decided to give it a try... and thankfully I was not disappointed. I can't wait to watch the next episode. Jermery Irons is AMAZING in his role as the newly crowned Pope. His superb acting sets the tone and elevates the bar for the whole cast. I can't imagine anyone else in that role, but him. The story draws you in right from the beginning, and moves along quite quickly. The sets were extremely detailed and visually stunning, as were the costumes. There was little I could find wrong with this this first episode. Showtime has done it again & brought us quite a gem.

If you're on the fence and unsure whether or not to watch this movie- like drama, I suggest you give it a try. I promise you won't be disappointed.

-T DeMon Spencer

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56 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

Not a documentary

Author: poly-nikes from United States
19 June 2012

Not for the first time is it necessary to point out to several of the reviewers of "The Borgias" that the show is not a documentary. The creators have used a historical basis as a jumping-off point and then gone on a riff for the sake of poetic license, much like a jazz musician might do with a standard piece of music.

I think "The Borgias" is a fascinating show -- the story lines are excellent and the production values are breathtaking. Almost every scene looks as though it had been lifted in its entirety from a Renaissance painting.

I'm also amazed that at least one reviewer believes that Jeremy Irons cannot act. I'd be interested to hear what criteria that person has apropos of acting excellence. Jeremy Irons is a fine actor, one of the best.

I don't believe I'm alone in the hope that there will be a third season -- and many more seasons to come. The era is a cornucopia of rich material for a drama such as "The Borgias." Thank you, Neil Jordan, and the rest of the crew and cast. You've enriched my life.

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56 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

The Borgias: In the Beginning

Author: gradyharp from United States
6 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In 1492 while Columbus was sailing the ocean blue to discover the Americas things weren't so tidy in Rome. It was a time when the papacy was in disrepair with popes having wives and mistresses and all manner of scandal (sound oddly familiar...) and form this period in history highly regarded writer Neil Jordan has pasted together enough information about the infamous Borgias - 'the first crime family' according to the PR - to create what resulted in a fascinating account of world history, a fitting series whose first season of 9 episodes are tied together in this package of DVDs.

For starters, the opening title sequences are masterworks of graphics and art history albeit splatter or washed in blood. The series opens with the nefarious Spanish family taking over the important Roman power vested in the papacy: Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons in a splendid tour de force of acting), becomes Pope Alexander VI when Pope Innocent VIII dies. As Pope, the elder Borgia gains election of his son Cesare (François Arnaud, a stunningly gifted young and handsome actor in one of his very first roles) to the College of Cardinals while his other son, the libidinous Juan (David Oakes) is made head of the military: these sons and the daughter Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger) are the children by the pope's 'wife' Vanozza Cattaneo (Joanne Whaley), though the pope is now in the throes of a sordid relationship with Giulia Farnese (Lotte Verbeek). One cardinal - Giuliano Della Rovere (Colm Feore) - is out to depose the unctuous Borgia reign and works with outside forces to overthrow Pope Alexander VI and makes alliances with King Charles VIII of France (Michel Muller). In the meantime Lucrezia is married off to the rather piggish Giovanni Sforza (Ronan Vibert) for monetary gain for the papacy but prefers sleeping with the illiterate commoner groomsman Paulo (Luke Pasqualino). Cesare appears to be the wisest of the descendants (despite a love affair with a married woman) but the entire family wiles its way into the role of oily evil that sets the stage for the episodes to follow.

The cast is uniformly excellent: there are cameo roles for the likes of Derek Jacobi, Sean Harris, Steven Berkoff, etc. The settings and costumes are enormously successful and the pacing of the action is fast - but not too fast to pause here and there for some rather graphic sensual scenes and gross and bloody fighting. it has the flavor of the times down to a fare- thee-well, making us eager for the next season to begin. Very worthwhile watching on every level.

Grady Harp

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53 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

The Borgias are Gorgeous!

Author: dmyriounis from Greece
2 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Borgias" is a testament to what collaborative work under an able organizational mind can achieve: the wonderfully idiosyncratic, Academy Award winner Neil Jordan creates, writes and directs the first two episodes of "The Borgias" and his signature in on every second of this amazingly film-like pilot who boasts a breathtaking performance from none other than Jeremy "Academy-and-Emmy-and-Golden-Globe-Award-Winning-Superstar" Irons, who headlines a vastly talented cast.

"The Borgias" begin on the deathbed of Pope Innocent VIII who's about to be succeeded by one of the most questionable personalities in papal history, the Spaniard outcast by traditional noble Roman families, Rodrigo Borgia (Irons). As Rodrigo's reign begins, his whole family, comprised of three sons, a daughter and an aging mistress is propelled to a position of power, which will lead to deeds that still scandalize the Vatican.

"The Borgias" is exquisitely crafted, with atmospheric lighting, haunting music, lush set and costume design (each of those undoubtedly worthy of an Academy Award nomination, if they were on a feature movie) and superbly executed scenes by mastermind Neil Jordan. "The Borgias" writing and editing are to be thanked for the pilot's brisk pacing (Rodrigo's Pope by the first 20 minutes and by 50 minutes there's already a poisoned corpse in his wake), as well as the humour-injected story and dialogue (maitre Jordan does take into account that people possessed both wit and the ability to be amused by certain situations, straying from the assumption that characters in period pieces need to be dead-serious, as is the case with almost every other period piece).

Jeremy Irons spearheads the cast and his performance is indelible and a reason to watch all on its own. He plays Rodrigo as the smartest and coolest man in the room, knowing his own advantages and his opponent's weaknesses so good as to not panic when they attack him and treat them with sardonic disdain and sarcastic mockery. He has a comedic vein and timing, which he frequently taps into when the situation calls for it and can also prove fiery, villainous and downright terrifying all at the same time. His Pope Alexander VI (named after the great conqueror) is not however a man without depth: he hesitates to murder, especially his fellow clergymen, and is daunted by the task to be Christ's Vicar, an epiphany which spurs him to commit brilliant and atrocious acts alike.

The rest of the cast is also pure gold: As the Pope's children, Francois Arnaud (as Cesare, named after the great Roman dictator) exceeds expectations when burdened with most screen time than his siblings, Holliday Grainger and David Oakes, who nevertheless inhabit their roles ably. Joanne Whalley is the standout in her short scenes as the mother of the Borgia progeny, bringing to the table a mostly sober, restrained performance only to surprise you with her intensity in the more dramatic sequences. As Rodrigo's new-found mistress, Lotte Verbeek presents a character sometimes vulnerable, sometimes strangely alert and resourceful, always intriguing and making you wonder what's really her agenda. Colm Feore appears deliciously bad-ass and self-righteous as Rodrigo's nemesis, cardinal Giulliano Della Rovere, while the revered veteran, Sir Derek Jacobi, takes a small and relatively thankless role and turns him into something his own. Peter Sullivan and Simon McBurney shine in their brief scenes, while Bosco Hogan and Vernon Dobtcheff lend gravitas to their cameos. The fantastic Sean Harris manages to render a calculating and cold-blooded killer into someone with a sympathetic dimension and depth.

The plot is not new to history addicts, who are going to be the most hard to surprise, but presents nevertheless enough twists and tricks to satisfy and excite. All in all excellent, don't miss "The Borgias".

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50 out of 62 people found the following review useful:

One of the best pilots I've ever seen.

Author: alaine1212 from United States
29 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Let me start by saying that I was hoping for the best but not expecting much. I was so surprised. One word could describe the pilot; "Beautiful". First of all, the credits sequence images and music were mystifying and haunting. The greatest accomplishment of this pilot was the setting, the atmosphere with the music, the lighting, the production design and the cinematography, all of which reminded me so much of what you would see in a feature film! Some scenes were just breath-taking. One that jumps to my mind specifically would be the Pope's coronation. Words can't possibly do it justice.

Some scenes can feel a little long winded but things happen so quickly and yet so subtly that it leaves you feeling like, "Wait, what just happened?" in a very good sense, of course. Keeps you on your toes and demands your attention. In a very similar way, Jeremy Irons owns every scene he's in. A paper bag could play opposite of Jeremy Irons skills and leave you believing it was a worthy actor.

As for the rest of the cast, everyone has superb chemistry with one- another (as evidenced by the many gifs and youtube videos of Lucrezia and Cesare together.) They are all incredibly believable. For example, I had no knowledge of the story of the Borgias before watching this Pilot and Francois displays an intense internal turmoil between the good and bad. In what direction he goes remains to be seen. Although we are given a lot of foreshadowing.

I could go on and on about this show. It is a must watch. So much intrigue and so many intertwining story lines. The possibilities are endless and I'm loving all the directions my mind is taking them.

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36 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Why the low ratings?

Author: Mikael Persson from Sweden
30 May 2013

This TV-series is brilliant so how can it only have 7,9 in rating? The first season was excellent and the second was even better at some points. I am watching the third season right now and it's good! The soundtrack alone is stunning and sometimes i find myself distracted by the atmospheric music that is played during the scenes. The actors are very good and the overall story is both unpredictable and immersive. The costumes as well are really well done, i have to say everything is good with The Borgias and those who downvoted the series obviously doesn't see the brilliance in it.

The Borgias is one show you shouldn't miss!

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47 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Started off well!

Author: LynnieTM from United States
8 April 2011

Premiere episodes are sometimes awkward because there is so much to establish that it sometime feels contrived--not so with The Borgias. The writing/plot is compelling, the costumes and set are beautiful and I'm definitely hooked by all the fine performances.

Someone else wrote that Jeremy Irons is a reason in itself to watch and it's true--he does a fantastic job in the lead. The woman who plays Lucretia--Holiday Grainger- also gives a very nuanced performance.

The only thing that I thought was awkward was the chemistry between Jeremy Irons and Lotte Verbeek-- although it works in their favor during the confession scene. She's a great actress and definitely on par with Irons but I just don't believe their relationship yet.

All in all--very reminiscent of the Tudors--if you loved that series you will equally enjoy this.

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43 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

Fascinating production

Author: ruth44 from Israel
30 April 2011

I have only seen the first two episodes of The Borgias but am already deeply immersed in this brilliant series.

The production is beautifully set and the atmosphere of the period is captured with detail and accuracy. The wonderful cast, led by the superb Jeremy Irons, is excellent and as good as I have ever seen in a production of this kind.

This series proves once more that good television is superior to most of the films produced today. This is a must for anyone who enjoys a fascinating story, based on real history, and an ensemble cast of actors chosen with care. Highly recommended.

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