HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Da Vinci's Demons: Season 2
HTS Overall Score:79
Receiving season 2 in the mail unannounced, I had the distinct rush of “uh oh, I haven’t even watched Season 1!” coursing through my veins. That immediately led to me renting the firs season and binging it in a few days. “Da Vinci’s Demons” can best be described as modern cable television. It used to be that the majority of the craziness and the wild storytelling was in the movies, but in recent years Cable television has come to take that torch and create some genuinely fascination material that doesn’t cater to the standard stay at home mom, or late night TV. HBO, Showtime and Starz have been the forefront of this conversion and have created some really interesting shows. “Game of Thrones” is by far the most recognizable of this type of television, with something like “Dexter” being a close second. Starz itself has created some solid shows themselves with ilk like “Outlander” and now “Da Vinci’s Demons”. After watching a good 14+ hours of the show in the last few days I have a hard time deciding if I REALLY like the show or just view it as a guilty pleasure (and sometimes not pleasure). It’s entertaining, but decidedly out there and certainly loves to take liberties with historical figures.
“Da Vinci’s Demons” basically says “accuracy be hanged!” and just throws out the historical figure of Leonardo Da Vinci into the trash and uses his name and general character to create a fantasy land adventure that can be incredibly fun, but also rather unintentionally humorous. The show basically turns Leonardo into a hero, a savior, an inventor of fantabulous inventions as well as a sword master, lover and drug addict. This season is even more farfetched the first season, with Incan women warriors, sword fights in the dungeons and more inventions that boggle the mind as well as make you laugh out loud (I mean, Da Vinci creates a SUBMARINE to get out to a docked ship. In that day and age!).
The season starts outs with a pair of episodes that wrap up the events of the previous season, but that is where the season takes a definite twist, with the rest of the episode really not jiving well with those opening two hours at all. It’s kind of jarring and gives the season a bit of an uneven feel. Leonardo and Lorenzo are separated for a majority of the time as they’re sent to different parts of the globe. Things are bigger and bolder this time around, with more inventions that go off the charts, more random topless nudity and more of Da Vinci smoking opium. Ironically Da Vinci takes a bit of a back seat here, with some of the major story arcs belonging to Lorenzo, Lucrezia, and even good old Nico.
The show is kind of a guilty pleasure, as you can’t really take the name “Da Vinci” seriously in this setting, as it’s almost like one of those 1980’s fantasy flicks like “Krull” or whatnot in terms of cheese and believability. The show is certainly bold and inventive, as it reminds me of an olden days MacGyver with a heavy dose of over serious melodrama and random nudity. Goyer writes the show with an overabundance of seriousness, expecting the audience to take the drama with the utmost respect, but then knowingly winks at the camera in the next scene with another ludicrous invention that has you rolling on the floor, and as a result makes the show just a tad rough and uneven. On one hand, I really enjoy the far reaching stunts and inventions, but the melodrama is a biiiiiiiiiiit higher than I would like and sometimes the random sex scenes just feel out of place and unnecessary. We’re not talking of “Game of Thrones” or “Spartacus” levels by ANY stretch of the imagination, but still I caught myself more than once thinking “seriously”?! during a random scene.
The Blood of Man
The Blood of Brothers
The Voyage of the Damned
The Ends of the Earth
The Sun and the Moon
The Rope of the Dead
The Vault of Heaven
The Fall from Heaven
The Enemies of Man
The Sins of Daedalus
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=40065[/img]Starz and the other major cable providers certainly do a REALLY good job with their shows in the video department and the 1.78:1 framed TV show certainly looks stunning with its digital cinematography. The landscapes are luscious and full of vivaciousness and color sparkling at every corner of the globe. Green jungles abound with dark areas that show incredible shadow detail as well as stay saturated with golden Incan body armor, blue and red tunics and the sparkling blue and white of the ocean. Contrast levels are impeccable and skin tones have a very natural hue to them. I didn’t notice any instances of macroblocking or banding during the show, although there is some MILD black crush that rears its head every once in a while. Excellent on the video for sure.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=40073[/img]The 5.1 TrueHD track isn’t any slouch either, as it benefits from the grander scale over its first season. The greater adventures of Leonardo and crew feel vaster and the soundscape opens up as they travel all over the globe. The dialog is crisp and clean, as expected, and the surround channels are a buzz with action and nuance. The series shows excellent directionality and the little ambient noises that flicker in the surround speakers is excellent to say the least. LFE isn’t pulse pounding, but it adds some nice weight to the track and really livens up the action sequences. Clarity of voices and effects is crystal clear, with pinpoint precision, allowing for the listener to hear even a pin drop with incredible accuracy. Just WOW, is all I can say.
• A Closer Look
• Creating the New World
• New Sets
• The Journey Begins
“Da Vinci’s Demons” is one of those shows that I really can’t decide if I guiltily like the series, or whether I’m ambivalent. The scope and imagination that Goyer shows is definitely admirable and the adventure aspects are entertaining most of the time, but the unevenness of the show and the random nudity for the SAKE of being random just makes the show feel a bit awkward and bloated at times. Fans of the show are rabidly addicted to it, while the other side feels rather “meh” towards its existence. I have to say that I fall somewhere in the middle, as I certainly felt entertained, but can see the flaws that the other side focuses on. It’s definitely worth a rental at the very LEAST if you’re interested in mature cable TV.
Starring: Tom Riley, Laura Haddock, Elliot Cowan
Created by: David S. Goyer
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
Studio: Starz/Anchor Baby
Runtime: 466 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 3rd, 2015
Buy Da Vinci's Demons: Season 2 On Blu-ray at Amazon
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