DA VINCI’S DEMONS was one of the few new shows this year that I was genuinely excited about, as it looked like it had pretty much everything that I like about television. Having never really watched a STARZ series before, it took me a little while to get accustomed to the “Starz CG look”, and my initial distaste faded in time.
Overall, I wouldn’t say that it is can’t-miss television, but DA VINCI’S DEMONS certainly fills a void that otherwise exists on Friday nights. It exists somewhere comfortably between ‘mediocre’ and ‘good’, not quite firing on the all-cylinder greatness of similar fare like GAME OF THRONES which was clearly a major influence.
Yes it is a good show, but it isn’t without it’s quirks. It could have just as easily been titled “Da Vinci’s Bicuriousity” or “Da Vinci’s Penis Shots”, as there was literally tons of penis swung around helicopterally as the season progressed. Where the standard guy plays a game of “where’s the boobs” with every episode of every show on HBO, there were several occurrences of “seriously, is that another penis?!?” in almost every episode. And it’s not like the creators could claim “whoops, that was a totally unintended penis”, as one of the more obnoxious parts involved three separate levels of zoom on a naked male cadaver’s junk. There was also some sort of special fascination with the pope’s manhood, as that dude was flopping it around every chance he could get. Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of female nudity too. But as a proud member of the male subspecies, I see enough of my own to not warrant the viewing of others.
(use the above picture to scrub the previous paragraph from your brain)
Now for the positives… the show was visually stunning (sans the aforementioned dangley bits) and everything from the costumes to the sets and environments really made the show worth watching. Additionally, most of the actors and actresses were fantastic, especially TOM RILEY who played Leonardo, the Medici brothers played by ELLIOT COWAN and TOM BATEMAN, Lucrezia played by LAURA HADDOCK, Riario who was played outstandingly by BLAKE RITSON and even the nudist himself Pope Sixtus IV played by JAMES FAULKNER.
The highlight of the show for me was later in the season where Leonardo and company travel to Romania in order to save a prisoner from Vlad Tepes (aka Dracula) himself. The show took a fairly historical perspective on the character rather than cheese it up with the whole vampirism thing, and it ended up being very effective.
One of my favorite parts of the whole season was every time we saw Da Vinci’s genius at work as he flips into ‘Da Vinci vision’ and analyzes the world through his animated sketchbook drawings. Also important to note the story as a whole was very engaging, although not all that satisfying in retrospect as essentially nothing was solved with the Book of Leaves aside from finding the other half of the key. And we all knew where that was from the onset.
The very end of the season ended on a huge cliffhanger where Giulino is dead, Lucrezia is captured, Leonardo narrowly saves Lorenzo only to have Riario blow through their locked door with a cannon while Nico and Zoroaster try to hold a boat from leaving to Africa. That previous sentence makes a lot more sense once you actually watch the show, and if you have STARZ already it’s not a bad use of an uneventful weekend.
Luckily, DA VINCI’S DEMONS was renewed for a second and fuller season, so we will see where the story goes from here. Let’s call the first season a “B-“, but I will certainly be tuning in for season two.