Friday, 19 April 2013

"Da Vinci's Demons" Starz/FX TV series Episode 1 "The Hanged Man" review

The viewer is assaulted by the sight of "Downtown Abbey's Earl of Grantham" (Hugh Bonneville) naked, urinating after bedding a young man. Later on we hear the honeyed words, "F*ck me again, Leonardo!" You know this is not The History Channel.
This is going to be a rollicking romp, full of sex and slashing, political intrigue, colourful vistas, more bonking, a mysterious fraternity, myriad conspiracies and naughty popes.
David S. Goyer is the creator (writer of "The Dark Knight" and soon to be released "Man of Steel"). He directs this episode also. English seems to be the default accent in this series. Tom Riley plays the title character like Errol Flynn in his swashbuckling heyday. Add a touch of arrogant Sherlock from "Elementary". Both gents like a bit of illicit drugs also.
When the mascaraed Turk spouts "Time is a river .... a circle" I thought I was listening to the hokey "Lost Horizon" from 1972. I like Da Vinci's friends, young Nico (test pilot in Leo's man-kite was a  funny scene) and the worldly Zoroaster (Greg Chillin - he certainly was chillin') as the procurer of corpses. It's "Plebs" goes Renaissance.
I thought Leonardo played with the other team. He wasn't showing those tendencies in this episode (apart from a vague comment about an attractive male model. Homosexuality seems to be de rigueur for the elite (the pissing Duke of Milan, the venal Pope).
For all its silliness, there is an inspired scene when starlings are released from a market cage so Leonardo can observe and sketch their flight. This was a beautifully realised scene. I watched open mouthed.
The series may never top this one minute wondrous gem.
Next week: more bums, boobs, bonking, buggery, bashings and betrayal?
Well, it beats The History Channel.

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