As a HBO Nordic subscribed, I was happy to see “Borgia” pop up in the list of available shows. I had heard excellent things about a show about the Borgias. It had a rating of 7.6 on IMDB, so I roped my wife into it and we watched the first episode.
The main character of Rodrigo Borgia is played by John Doman, who was fantastic in “The Wire”. However, in the first episode he seemed stilted to me. The other actors seemed alright, but not spectacular. The young woman playing Lucrezia was not good though, in my opinion. I’ve done some community theatre, and she was about the level of people I acted with there. Certainly not the level of a major show.
However, I decided it was probably pilot episode jitters, and we moved on to episode two. This episode was worse than the first one. Everyone was having acting trouble. Practically no-one sounded realistic or convincing in their roles. About a half an hour in, we were watching a scene between the Borgia women that just sat there. It fell below community theatre, down to someone reading directly from a page without inflection. We stopped the episode there and switched over to “The Borgias”.
Wow. From the first episode, we were enthralled. Jeremy Irons is, of course, a fantastic actor, but everyone around him shines as well. The show starts with a bang, with the death of the former pope and we’re right in the intrigue.
Lucrezia Borgia here is played by Holliday Grainger, and she’s outstandingly brilliant. Later in the season, when she marries, she has a lot of heavy scenes and handles them perfectly. She plays Lucrezia with a perfect balance of innocence and naiveté.
The outstanding character for me so far, though, is Micheletto played by Sean Harris. He is just such an intriguing and perfect character.
“The Borgias” has amazing depth, great costumes and settings. You just feel completely immersed in the time. We’ve gotten to episode four of the first season, and we’re very glad we made the change.
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