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The Borgias: Season 2
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Price:$9.30+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on October 2, 2014
i really wondered what I was getting into when I purchased this set. My sister said she liked it but she had no further comment. I wanted to know things: Was it historically accurate? Did it convey a sense of the Renaissance? Was the dialogue banal or inspired? Did it - Well, you get the picture. Most of my doubts were allayed when I saw that fine Irish artist Neil Jordan was the producer, the writer and frequent director of episodes. I have only the highest accolades for his achievement in his many roles in bringing the series to life. It is absolutely wonderful see Jeremy Irons in a major role. Let me just say this - the waters part for him in every scene he is in, whether it is played for drama or humor. He is an actor of intelligence, imagination and depth - Enough said! The wonderful surprise was the excellence of the ensemble. The Borgia children all excellent, and Sean Harris who plays Cesare's faithful servant and killer on demand is splendid. However, do not think you are getting a History Lesson. The script plays fast and loose with historical events.
It may convey the spirit of the times, but not the actual events. Why? I don't know, and I was enjoying myself too much to care. If you want to see a film which re-creates the Italian Renaissance with accuracy and depth watch Roberto Rossellini's THE AGE OF THE MEDICI from 1972. It is brilliant and memorable. Amazon has the Criterion label version.
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The Borgias is a Showtime drama set in late 15th century Rome. The specific focus of the show concerns Rodrigo Borgias' ascent to the papacy and his efforts to stay in power through the turbulent events of the period.

The show commences in 1492, the year that Alexander VI became Pope. Of course, most people will also recognize that year as the same in which Columbus discovered the New World. This date therefore provides an easy connection to the historical timeline that most people can easily relate to. Once Borgia becomes Alexander VI, the saga begins, and the show describes the machinations made to maintain Alexander six on the throne. This is a difficult and sometimes brutal history, and those that are familiar with this history will not be surprised at the events that unfold in the subsequent episodes. The show is largely historically accurate, both in the broad brush strokes and also in some of the minute details.

There is little reason to repeat the expensive information that has already been written about this series including the specific detail covered in each episode. We can easily echo, however, the extremely high-quality production values of the show. We can also echo the view that the acting in the show is extremely well done. As companies like Showtime and HBO and Netflix continue to make extremely lush, well-developed dramas, we see that this move has now become the pinnacle of television production at this current time, one that is now rivaling, and sometimes, surpassing full screen movies. This is also the case with The Borgias. This is a show that is supremely well done, and it shows in every scene. The art sets, the costumes, the colors, the settings, and on and on are superbly well done. In fact, it seems we are watching here something of a quality level that would not even normally be seen in a full screen movie.

The acting, of course, is of greatest importance, and we see with an outstanding cast including Jeremy Irons that the cast are up to every bit of the task and make the story come alive on the screen. It has been rumored that the show cost Showtime approximately $2.5 million per episode to make. That runs out to roughly $25 million per season. When you watch the show on a high definition television BluRay player, you can see where some of that money was spent. The show is lush, lavish, and it makes one marvel at how such shows are being made today. Filming was carried out primarily in Hungary, and there is some use of CGI and certain scenes, but these are barely noticeable, and in fact sometimes are not noticeable at all. The architectural backgrounds to many of the scenes are simply superb, even when they are CGI.

The Borgias had a loyal following for the first three seasons on Showtime. However, in a trend that we have heard all too often before, ratings were not as high as Showtime had hoped, particularly in Season Three. The show was originally slated for a four season run, but because the ratings were slightly disappointing in Season Three, Showtime decided to cancel the series at the end of the third season. This means that the planned Season Four of The Borgias does not exist, and likely will never be made. (This is not unlike the situation that occurred with the critically acclaimed show Boss, starring Kelsey Grammer, which was canceled after two seasons because of low ratings, but was considered to be one of the best drama shows put on television in recent memory.) But in spite of the disappointment that no Season Four is to be made, this is no reason not to watch The Borgias and to follow those first three seasons as they are made. (The same is true of Boss, as well; watching its first two seasons can be an amazing experience, in spite of the truncated ending of the show.)

The Borgias is an excellent historical drama that will help you to learn much about the period, and the papacy of Alexander the sixth. It has some difficult scenes, but the show has seemingly done a reasonable job of attempting to portray the story without making it so consistently brutal that one would not wish to watch it. Watching the show in Blu-ray format with a high-definition television can provide some of the sharpest clearest and most colorful presentations that we've ever seen.

This is an easy five-star recommendation for anyone enjoying historical dramas, or for those interested in the period.
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The proper comparison for "The Borgias" is similar 10 - 12 episode costume dramas, historical or fantastical, such as "Rome" and "Game of Thrones", not what we find in history books. There are too many deviations from history to make that comparison worthwhile, with one big exception. The historical interpretation of the Borgias as vile and immoral may be inaccurate. This dramatization seems to err on the side of making the Borgia clan no more vile and immoral than their antagonists.

One thing which makes this production (both seasons) more exciting and engaging than "Game of Thrones" is that there is so much more light, color, and action, in spite of the fact that both lived in a world where the only light was sun and candle. Both involve battles and large armies; except that like "Rome", "Game of Thrones" keeps all that action off screen, and when it does appear at the end of season 2, it is at night, and mostly with close-ups of small groups of combatants, or with ships, done with models.

As I mentioned above, the Borgias are presented as no worse than their enemies. Some opponents, like the semi-factual Niccolo Machiavelli become their friends and some appear more virtuous, such as Caterina Sforza. Juan Borgia is both dissolute, incompetent, and cowardly, with no honor to speak of. Rodrigo, Pope Alexander, is seriously flawed, but he is true to his faith and its humility, which works to his purposes, as he see's God's guidance being effective in charming his most serious opponents such as the King of France, who is one of the most interesting characters in bot seasons. Juan is so corrupt he disgusts his own ally, a Conquistador captain from Spain. Cesare and Lucrezia fall between the two. Both are willful, but smart and ruthless. Cesare leaves a lot of the dirty work to his bodyguard, Michelotto Corella, but Cesare plans all the dirty deeds, and participates in many of them, with a mask.

In my review of the first season, I said it was hard to keep everyone straight, especially all the cast members who are cardinals (except for the distinct face of Derek Jacobi, who does not survive the first season.) It usually takes no more than a second viewing to sort everything out.

At the risk of revealing a spoiler, I will say one of the most interesting aspects of the series is the relations between the Borgia family members, which are often no less intense than the relations with lovers and enemies.

I suspect the production benefitted from being able to use buildings from the Renaissance in Rome, Milan, Naples, and Florence which are still around. When I walked the streets of Florence in 1964, it seemed as if I were walking them in 1500. Very little had changed.
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on June 5, 2013
Here's what I wrote for my Season 1 review. Apply it to this season as well.

The acting is brilliant. The story? Well, it has intrigue, greed, lust, sex--all the elements of great storytelling. The characters? The Borgias were absolutely "out there." Not much else to say. The thing that impresses me most is that this is based, albeit Hollywood-style--on real people and events, unlike that other blockbuster on the other channel. I like both, but seeing actual historical characters and events tips the scale for me. Jeremy Irons has never been better, and that's saying a lot since I've seen nearly everything he's acted in. Watch the whole series, if only for him. If you want to check for accuracy, get out a history book. Here's the thing: History is written by the winners, so can we ever know for sure? What we can know is that this is a wonderful series with characters you'll love. And hate.
Warning: There's some full frontal nudity and lots of violence. Well, I don't think even the most sanitized history books ever portrayed them as saints. And some Catholics may be offended at this raw look at one of their popes. I'm Catholic, and I've always known that popes have human frailties; some, like this one, had a lot of human frailties. Sorry, but it's true.
Bonus: The actor playing Cesare is not only a fine actor but gorgeous as well.

This review goes for all the seasons. I'm simply going to cut and paste.
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on February 28, 2018
Loved every minute of it. Cannot believe that the show actually takes a sympathetic view of the Borgias by trying to account for their breathtaking depravity. Would suggest seeing the Russian series Ektarina, available on Amazon, along with the Borgias because it dramatizes other contemporaneous events occurring in the Christian world and enriches the understanding of the historical period. As usual, Jeremy Irons is great but the rest of the cast is as well.
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VINE VOICEon June 16, 2014
Neil Jordan hit another home run with the “Borgias” and the second season proves as strong as the first.This excellent historic drama focuses on the Spanish family that held the papacy and the Papal States in its grasp at the end of the 15th/start of the 16th centuries. While the music, sets and costumes are all excellent, this series is held together by a wonderful group of actors including the masterful Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI, François Arnaud as Cesare Borgia and Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia Borgia. Two of the stars from the first season-- Lott Verbeek as Giulia Farnese and Colm Feore as Cardinal Della Rovere--get less screen time and that is a problem as both of them are excellent. The writing is fast-paced and generally comes together along with fine drama, tense moments and an epic feel. The special features continue to underwhelm but the second season has more than the first. Still, this is a great show. Highly recommended.
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on April 4, 2013
I am a true fan of this show, I think the drama, intrique, and passion
this time evoked is evidence that if you have power (its the same in any time) you
have everything. I loved every episode and couldn't stop myself from
finishing the series quickly. The final episode was one for the history books.

Even though the horror of the excess they indulged in,
(in comparison to everyone else) is truly awful, you can't help but fall in love
with the characters and sympathize with their tragedies and shortcomings.
It makes you think about your own failures and realize if you aren't one of
the rich and powerful then you don't have near as far to fall.

The acting is amazing and before long you are rooting for the bad guys. Personally
I think the mark of a truly great actor is their ability to make you love them
even when they don't deserve it.

I believe this show is as good if not better than The Tudors, and I watched every
episode of that also.
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on October 20, 2013
Jeremy Irons is so miscast as Rodrigo Borgia, (the fiendish Spaniard, who, as the utterly corrupt fifteenth century Pope, helped set the stage for the Reformation), in this thoroughly unconvincing performance that he is laughable. Helping Jeremy/Rodrigo is his "evil' daughter, Lucrezia, played by the sweet Holiday Grainger, who acts as if she couldn't poison a family kitchen rats, much less her husbands, Also getting into the act is Joanne Whalley, up to God-only-knows-what, as Rodrigo's former mistress, and the mother of his children. Francois Arnaud takes up the slake, and there is plenty of that, as Rodrigo's son, a Cardinal. Some other misbegotten actor plays Alexander VI's "enemy" Cardinal Della Rovere, in a forgettable performance. A big Show Time cable mess in Blue Ray. Amazon does it's usual excellent job as the seller.
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on January 19, 2018
So awful... For the second time i'm ordering the same season and getting only one DVD instead of three. What is going on???
Is it supposed to be one disk with #3 on it ? Description indicate that there is three disks in the season 2 . Going back!!!
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on February 3, 2014
watching a soap opera that is also (largely) actual history?
I won't dwell too much on details of Season Two; I will just
say that we've now watched all 3 seasons (on DVD) and
enjoyed it very much. It also prompted us to go look up
additional facts about the actual history. Great casting,
stunning costuming and architecture, great pacing, great
balance of action vs character study and there's always several
plots unfolding at the same time. Watch the series I doubt
you'll be disappointed.
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