I’m a big fan of historical shows like Vikings, Borgias and Tudors. So of course I was going to give Netflix’s new show Marco Polo a shot.
Made for a budget of $90 million, Marco Polo is a lavish production, with incredible set design and costumes. However, I almost stopped watching after a very halting first episode.
It’s a problem many shows fall into, where the first episode isn’t an accurate portrayal of what the show itself will become. With long flashbacks and background information, the pilot dragged quite a bit. Right up until the last five minutes, when the show revealed what it would really be like.
Some people have been comparing Marco Polo to Game of Thrones, but this isn’t really fair. When I went to rate the show, I even paused for a moment before hitting the five star rating. The trouble is that if we compare everything to Game of Thrones, then there’s only going to be one five star show in the world (Now that Breaking Bad has finished).
And Marco Polo is a five star show. Impressively acted, wonderfully directed, the show gives a real sense of the courts of both Kublai Khan and the Emperor of China. I was particularly impressed with Benedict Wong in the role as Kublai Khan himself. I used to watch a comedy show called Fifteen Storeys High, with Sean Lock and Benedict Wong. This was Benedict Wong in that show:
And it wasn’t all that long ago, either. Back in 2002, Wong was playing shy Errol in that show and a mere twelve years later he’s the Khan of Khans and almost unrecognisable.
There are some actors that embody their roles entirely and Benedict Wong is one of them.
Elsewhere, the show is similarly well acted. Lorenzo Richelmy in the lead is good, if with a very thick accent in tow. The accents in general are a little odd in the show. Everyone seems to be using their native accent, which leads to some strange mixes in certain scenes. In one scene, Uli Latukefu was speaking to Lorenzo Richelmy in very proper UK English to Richelmy’s thick Italian English and it just struck me how different all of their accents were.
Overall, this show is highly recommended to anyone who likes historical dramas like I do. This isn’t Game of Thrones, but it’s a five star way to pass the time until season five starts.
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