Now that The Tudors is long gone, the folks over at Showtime are attempting to fill the void with their brand new historical series, The Borgias. Before the show premieres tonight, here's a rundown on everything you need to know.
What it's about: Jeremy Irons stars as Rodrigo Borgia, a cardinal who rises to power when he seizes the Roman papacy through corrupt means during the Renaissance. As Pope Alexander VI, he struggles to stay one step ahead of his enemies and protect his family, which includes sons Cesare and Juan, and daughter Lucrezia. Cesare has his own inner conflict as a bishop who would rather be a warrior like his brother Juan, while teenage Lucrezia represents an opportunity to add to her family's power through a conveniently arranged marriage with someone of her father's choosing — even if that's not what she wants.
Where it works: It's hard to deny the gorgeous sets and costumes as The Borgias takes us back to Renaissance Italy and all that comes with it. Irons gives a rich performance that's entertaining and sparks intrigue, and I was also impressed with François Arnaud as Cesare.
Where it doesn't: Showtime has been touting the show as a historical version of The Godfather, as it centers on one of the biggest crime families in history. Unfortunately, the pilot just doesn't pack much punch. It's pretty, but the plot moves at a snail's pace and none of the characters are truly captivating. It's possible that we're just getting the tip of the iceberg here, but I wanted more soapiness and drama — even with a few sex scenes, this is no substitute for The Tudors.
Am I hooked? I'm sorry to say that I'm not. I'll stick with it for a few more episodes, but if it doesn't pick up the pace soon, I'm afraid it's going to have a hard time finding an audience that will keep coming back.
To watch a preview for the show, just
Photo courtesy of Showtime