Now I’ve got to get the premium cable channels again…

When they’re done right, the glossy looking historical (or, in some cases, fantasy) drama series are really great things to behold. Rome was absolutely terrific, and it was a shame that it was so expensive to produce that it only made it to two seasons. The way they managed to insinuate Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus into the affairs of the mighty, but also kept them well-grounded in their own mundane world, was a model for how such things could be handled in an RPG.

I loved The Tudors as well, and it’s really colored my notions of how a campaign focused more on what is sometimes called “domain level play” could go; lots of intrigue and politicking, and caring deeply and passionately about things that ordinary folks (or, ordinary adventurers) don’t normally give a fig about; dynastic succession, wars of religion, and international politics.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand and its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena attempted to regain the mantle of Rome, but it really fell flat. It tried hard, but it almost seemed… vulgar… compared to Rome, and the fact that such comparisons are inevitable was probably unfortunate for it, but it seems to have hit a niche, and the series is still going strong with Spartacus: Vengeance. I might be tempted to give it another try.

Last year two new series in the same started off and I was instantly hooked on both. Game of Thrones is, of course, based on George R.R. Martin’s enormous (and enormously successful) fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Borgias is a more historical drama concerning itself with the papacy of Rodrigo Borgia (aka Pope Alexander VI) and his family, including the lovely and infamous Lucretia Borgia. Both series had successful first seasons and were picked up, and the premier of the second season of each is within sight.

First off, beginning on April 1 is Season Two of Game of Thrones on HBO:

Next, starting on April 8 we have Season Two of The Borgias on Showtime, staring Jeremy Irons:


I’m very much looking forward to both of these, and I’m finding that not having read A Song of Ice and Fire didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the series at all, and might actually be contributing to it, as I’m not making comparisons to the books and complaining that this or that got changed. I’m also finding that plot twists came as genuine surprises (Ned Stark, anyone?) and it’s a lot of fun not knowing what’s about to happen. All in all, it’ll be a good Spring for television.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.