Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Roman Mysteries

Long have I awaited the arrival of the Roman Mysteries tv series to DVD! And finally... here is season one, in my very own house!

My sister and I expected that we would be cracking jokes all the way through, but I liked 'most everything about it more than I expected I would.

This post is the fulfillment of a promise to Rebekah and Alyosha, who knew that we had pre-ordered the DVD, and requested such a report. It will be organized by "scroll" (as in the first two-part episode, and the next, and so on) and then by character. I was going to rewatch all of the episodes and take notes, but that would have taken too long, and I just didn't "feel like it" today.

The Secrets of Vesuvius I was never very nervous about this one, because I knew it combined the first two books in the series, The Thieves of Ostia and The Secrets of Vesuvius, which are perhaps my least favorite books in the series. The first moments of the series were odd, to say the least, involving Flavia Gemina running for her life from someone she's never seen before, and Jonathan ben Mordecai saving her with his slingshot. The filming there was wiggly and confusing, but it had calmed down by the time Flavia and Jonathan were having their first conversation. That was where my sister and I were first pleasantly surprise, when Jonathan said, "You must be Flavia. I hear your mother all the time, 'Flavia, slow down! Flavia, stop that!'"

The adaptation on this one was only so-so, very rushed (my, my, those children certainly do have many adventures!), but the episode itself was pretty good. Mount Vesuvius pretty much looked like a painting, though.

The Pirates of Pompeii Not much to say about this, except that I loved (er... loved to hate) Pulchra and disliked Felix and most traces of Flavia's disturbing fancy for Felix were gone, thankfully.

The Assassins of Rome Susannah's Other Jonathan subplot was also done away with, but Rizpah and her kitten were in this! More about Rizpah below...

The Dolphins of Laurentum Adaption-wise, this one is the best. It's quite close to the book (even though Aristo isn't in it).

The Enemies of Jupiter It was pretty good, as I recall. The story in this one was probably the farthest from the book of all the episodes in season one. *SPOILERS* Instead of giving his mother a drink to make her appear dead, Susannah is poisoned by Berenice. And then - horror of horrors! - Jonathan goes home. *wail* No! I'm sorry, but I simply adore that cliff-hanger in the book. Gone. Gone, alas.

The series has a happy ending at Miriam's wedding. Captain Geminus informs Flavia that it's time she think about getting married (in the TV show, she's 13 instead of 11), and although Flavia is rather distressed about it, her father loves her, Jonathan is funny, and one shouldn't have a frown at a wedding. Flavia catches Miriam's bouquet and frantically tosses it to Nubia. Haha.

Now, onto the interesting part: Characters!

Flavia Gemina: Francesca Isherwood did a very good job as Flavia. She's bossy and cute. She's not nearly as annoying as Flavia is in the book.

Jonathan ben Mordecai: I just love his curls! ;) He was very funny in his own way, but just not the Jonathan I love in the books, though a lot of his funny lines made it into the show ("Wait, how do you know what camel dung tastes - no, don't answer that")

Nubia: Rather perfect and peaceful but still very human, and a very great lover of animals. Rebekah Brookes-Murrell's Nubia was very close to the book-Nubia.

Lupus: In a word, perfect. I am a firm Harry Stott fan. I wonder if it's harder or easier to play a character who doesn't talk? At any rate, Harry did a wonderful job. He got Lupus's fire and energy just right.

Dr. Mordecai: Excellent! He looked exactly how I imagined him and acted very well. I have no complaints.

Pliny: Ditto! He was fabulous.

Pliny the Younger: Oh, Mark Wells (older Edmund in LWW) was the perfect choice for Pliny's nephew! He's awkward and nerdy and lovable. In The Secrets of Vesuvius when Flavia bursts into their home to tell Admiral Pliny about the volcano, Pliny's first reaction is to shout, "Assassins!"

Rizpah: She was ok... She didn't look at all like the description in the book, but I suppose that would be have been very difficult. But at least she was THERE, is what I say.

Miriam: Very good.

Gaius/Captain Geminus: Very good.

Let us just assume that everyone else is very good unless I mention their names.

Felix: I didn't care for him much... his eyes were Felix-eyes. But his hair... Hmm.

The rest, all jumbled together: Pulchra was marvelous, but she and Flavia look rather alike. Titus was just fine, Berenice was great, Susannah looked better in the picture on Caroline Lawrence's site, Venalicius was great (and Dolphins of Laurentum was GREAT, and did I mention that Lupus was fabulous?)

Ok... that's most of my thoughts about it. Anything else that you'd like to ask me, Aly, I'll be happy to answer. ;)


Alyosha said...

Woohoo! *day is made* All manner of...congratulations? gratifications? to Delaney.

Hooray for Rizpah. I owe her a certain debt of commemoration since I "was" Rizpah in that long ago NW RM clan (do you remember that? Poor Fauny, stuck with Flavia.) plus she's just cool. :P What did she look like? Not an albino? Did she know her way around the secret passages, and all that jazz?

Very glad to hear that about Flavia...I think this is the first time I've EVER been happy about a character change. :P Haha yeah, I can barely tell Flavia and Pulchra apart even in the production pictures!

Harry Stott looks most like my imagination imagined Lupus than any of the characters do. (Okay, I'm not even going to try redeeming that sentence's grammar.) Did you know that he's playing Oliver in the West End? Also he likes Phantom of the Opera. Go him.

Delaney said...

Rizpah looked like most of the other Jewish characters in the show, with dark hair and tan skin. And I believe she did show Jonathan the way to Susannah's...cell?

Oh, yes, of course I remember that! I don't know how I got stuck with Flavia... if I'm like anyone, I guess I'm like Jonathan... a little bit, at least.

Yes, I knew he was playing Oliver! And that he liked PTO. I admit that earned him some brownie points in my eyes. ;) I wish I could see him as Oliver.

Rebekah said...

*goes into ISTJ mode* Of course they had to wreck Enemies of Jupiter; it was one of my favorites.
Really, that is somewhat disppointing. The cliff-hanger would have been a splendid dramatic way to end the season and tie into the next.
But on thw whole, it sounds wonderful, and I can't wait to see it ([i]if[/i] I see it).
Was everyone the same personality types they were in the books? Was there anything "weird" or objectionable in content at all?

Raewyn said...

Hm, so I'm guessing it's the tv adaption of a book series. Did I get it right? ;) Lol...

They sound really interesting. I'll have to check them out. Is that what they are called, Delaney? The Roman Mysteries?

Much love,

Delaney said...

Yes, The Roman Mysteries. :D