Da Vinci's Demons

Pilot, "The Hanging Man": Starz and BBC World new series by David S. Goyer is a beguiling, schizophrenic mix of history, fantasy and conspiracy. The pilot does a good job of outlining their version of Da Vinci which Tom Riley seemed to be portraying as an amalgam of Sherlock (BBC), Sherlock (Hollywood) and The Doctor (Who?). However, the premise of the pilot is quite a mess. It lacked the political depth, character intrigue and sex appeal of Games of Thrones, and tries to insert some sort of overarching "Da Vinci Code"-esque conspiracy that at the moment still feels quite lame. None of the other supporting characters seemed to be very interesting and they all felt rather two-dimensional. Does this show want to be a fun, fantasy re-telling like "Merlin", a serious historical drama like "Spartacus", a sprawling political/philosophical quest like "Games of Thrones" or a dark, conspiracy akin to "The X-Files"? Might watch a couple more episodes to see how it goes.

Episode 2, "The Serpent": A much better second episode, but still feels a bit like a mystery-of-the-week. At least the Florence/Rome politicking is getting very interesting, although it very much is still the B-plot. The A-plot looks like is going to be the conspiracy theory regarding this vague Book of Leaves. Riley's Da Vinci is behaving more and more like a spoilt brat though, petulant and childish. The good thing of this episode is at least we get a face to the villain of the show. Well, at least, the villain of the moment, and Blake Ritson's Count Riario is cheesily hammy and cartoonishly vile.


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