11.11.11

Yeah, like I’m going to be writing blog articles when I could be playing Skyrim!

However, I will interrupt your playing schedule to suggest that you head on over to the BBC for a heartwarming and informative article on those precious, rare places that have something more important to celebrate today: the villages where everyone came back from the war. It’s good to spare a thought for those who risked their lives to save the world for real on this rather unique Remembrance Day.

Rome

I picked up the DVD box set for this fantastic HBO-BBC co-production because after thoroughly enjoying it on its first airing, I wanted to see it again.

Ray Stevenson and Kevin McKidd in HBO-BBC's Rome

Costing over a hundred million dollars for the first twelve episodes, Rome charts the events from Caesar’s conquest of Gaul through to the deaths of Antony and Cleopatra. The first series ends with the assassination of Julius Caesar, played with remarkable depth by Ciarán Hinds.

The whole cast is astonishingly good, with each giving a real range and warmth to their characters. Of course, the real stars are Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson as two common soldiers through whose eyes these classic parts of history are told. Their names were mentioned in passing in one of Caesar’s diaries, but in Rome they are given the major roles, often influencing history, Forrest Gump-style.

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Spooks

The best show on television comes back for a ninth series this week, and I haven’t even seen the eighth. I’ve just pre-ordered season eight of Spooks (known as MI5 in the USA)  on DVD – released on 20th September – with the hope of managing to record the first episode of season nine and catch up as quickly as possible so I don’t have to spend yet another year walking around with my fingers in my ears shouting “la la la” and hoping my work colleagues don’t spoil things for me.

Spooks wasn’t always the best show on TV. Other than attracting controversy with the terrifying death scene of a lead character in the second episode (head plunged into a deep fat fryer, no less!), it wasn’t remarkable – just a standard BBC drama that would have stood between Casualty and, say, Waking the Dead. It was intriguing but unambitious – and much too angsty and soapy. Then, somewhere along the line, the writers watched a few too many episodes of 24 and figured it would make a decent clone. The result was a sudden shift in quality from the second season that turned Spooks into a slick, beautifully written/directed/acted series that stands miles above any other British show bar perhaps the splendid Rome.

This is the actual moment that reeled me in, from the fourth series – I immediately caught up on the first three seasons and watched it ever since.

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Spoilers follow the jump …

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