Amoeblog


(In which Job fondly recalls Ancient Rome.)

Posted by Job O Brother, June 19, 2007 10:44am | Post a Comment
I don’t own a television. I can’t.

I just can’t face another TV commercial. It doesn’t matter how good a show is, if it must stop all of a sudden in order for some hopped-up, bling-bling supermodel to salaciously coax me into purchasing the latest acacia-infused douche/pudding pop, I will barf.

Maybe my resistance is low because I spent most of my childhood glued to the boob-tube. I could tell anyone what I was “going to do that day” in half-hour increments.

“Four o’clock? Well, ‘Dangermouse’ will just be finishing up, then segueing into ‘You Can’t Do That On Television,’ after which I will switch channels to Mtv to watch ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’…” ad infinitum.

(Monty Python on Mtv? Man, those were good times. ‘Just Say Julie’ and ‘Post Modern Mtv’… I weep for our losses.)


Strictly UPTOWN Julie Brown, Queen of Mtv

At some point, I switched watching copious amounts of TV for lots and lots of mind-altering drugs. So yeah, things were getting healthier. By the time I sobered up and realized that my life wasn’t going to figure itself out, I had a quick nervous breakdown and spiritual crisis, considered suicide, came back from the brink of annihilation, got a job and a girlfriend and discovered I could no longer cope with Nike ads.

Really, this could be anyone’s story.

This is my very personal and long-winded way of saying that I only watch TV shows on DVD. On my computer. In control. No swooshes.

Currently, I am enjoying HBO’s epic saga, “Rome”. I can’t say that I’m bowled over, but it’s amusing enough to watch when I scurry home from Amoeba Music for my lunch break. I’ve only watched the first four episodes, too, so there’s still a chance I’ll get addicted. It took about that long before I realized that “Deadwood” was (curse-word) brilliant.

Still, I am reminded of one of my favorite TV shows of all time. More of a mini-series, actually. “I, Claudius”, which ran on the BBC in 1976. Henceforth, it was often seen in the U.S. on public television. It garnered a slew of awards.


Is that a snake in your opening credits or are you just happy to see me?

I watched it as a fluke. I was at my sister’s house in Sacramento and had a lot of free time. Amidst all the children’s DVD’s was “I, Claudius”. Faced with watching Ariel become a human with the help of Sebastian and Flounder, or the bloody and horrific fall of the Roman Empire, the choice was a no-brainer. After all, only one of these would give me nightmares about calypso-singing sea-crabs.


"I'm going to add your severed head to my collection of whoozits and whatsits!"

What followed was two days of me glued to the computer screen, watching with mouth agape, the entire series. It was like being a kid again.

The show is masterful. The acting is superlative, and the villains are so entertaining and genuinely scary, you almost hate to see them fail, and since this is about Ancient Rome, they often don’t.


More evil and cunning than Fox News - Siân Phillips as Livia

It doesn’t have the same big budget that HBO currently enjoys. Most of it is shot on sound stages; it looks more like a play than a TV show. (Cheek to camera-right and stab him in the throat, keeping your profile in the upper-left light, please.) It’s also a British show, so you might feel a little lost at first, because they don’t take a lot of time to educate you on what’s going on; you either know already or you find the groove.


Get Into the Groove - John Hurt as Caligula

Let me tell you, it is worth the effort. I cannot praise the show enough. Luckily, it is available on DVD in its entirety. You may be delighted to see just how many British celebrities are in it. The cast reads like a who’s-who of England in the 70’s. The cast-party must have been rad. (Or, in the British dialect, “really rather rad”.)


23 years Before Christ and 2,000 years Before Ikea

If you like “Rome”, I insist you check it out. Unless the only reason you watch said show is for occasional glimpses of James Purefoy’s penis, in which case, “Dangermouse” is the more obvious recommendation.

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Tv (28), Hbo (16), Bbc (15), Mtv (11), Dangermouse (2), You Can't Do That On Television (2), Monty Python (9), Just Say Julie (1), Julie Brown (4), Drugs (23), Suicide (5), Nike (3), Dvd (18), Rome (4), Deadwood (3), I Claudius (1), Little Mermaid (1), John Hurt (1), Siân Phillips (1), England (20), James Purefoy (1)