Da Vinci’s Demons – Allahweh’s Late-Summer Indulgence!

Da Vinci's Demons 2013

Yes, I know, it really isn’t technically summer anymore, but where I am, it’s still hot as it can get outside. Often, the summer months are a time when TV can wane (depending on your interests), and this can mean that it makes for a good time to catch up on shows you’ve missed in the past. For me, one of the shows I got into not terribly long ago is Da Vinci’s Demons, a historical fantasy that’s been airing on Starz here in the U.S. since 2013.

I’ll admit, lately I’ve had a real kick for historical dramas, having watched through all of The Tudors at long last. This trend continued with BBC America’s The Musketeers, which made its debut this summer and has been a lot of fun. This show is one that I always thought sounded cool from what little I knew about it, but I never got the chance to see it; now, I have.

I have to admit that quite a few things in the show are far-fetched. Yet, historically, there’s also a lot of accuracy regarding the period portrayed. The show is set in 1477-78 in the Republic of Florence (and later in some of the surrounding lands), and spreads off as characters journey through Europe and as far as the “unknown lands across the Atlantic.” A lot of what’s portrayed really happened during that time. The Papal States were outwardly expanding in an attempt to unite the Italian Peninsula, and Florence was one of their many targets, being seen as a then-modern Gomorrah. The Church was extremely corrupt back then, Pope Sixtus was perceived as kind of a dick, and the average person had a crappy life. The court of the Medici family in Florence seems accurate enough, and it’s interesting to get a glimpse at their struggle to maintain de facto rule over a city filled with intrigue.

These early years in Da Vinci’s life are what the show focuses on. We get to see his rise from lowly, highly-intelligent artisan to military engineer in Florence. We get to see him flaunt the Papal States and Count Riario, the Papal Captain-General. A lot of the inventions shown throughout the show are things he either invented or at least drafted at some point. Sure, some technical details get glossed over in favor of storytelling, but it all seems to be in good fun. The characters are all very well-conceived, and as the intrigue continues (especially in the second season), we really get to see the full depth of them.

Naturally, being a fantasy, the show takes some liberties with different things. At one point, Da Vinci goes to meet Vlad III of Walachia, who had died in 1476 (presumably) in the real world. There’s also the ongoing plot about discovering the mythical Book of Leaves – a tome in which the secrets of ancient technology and far more are said to be contained. The whereabouts of the book is the subject of some of season one, and certainly becomes prevalent in season two.

Overall, I am very pleased with this show so far. I’m about mid-way through the second season, and am enjoying it immensely. If you’re someone who enjoys a good fantasy or drama set in a historical setting, this one shouldn’t disappoint. The actors do a fantastic job, the plot is well-conveyed, and all-in-all, they do a fine job getting you really excited about watching the next episode. When I finish with season two, I know I’ll be sad that season three won’t be coming our way until the spring of 2015!

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