I really do believe it's worth watching. It's still early, but the characters have a LOT more potential than The Empire. Even more exciting, real research was done for this show. I'm sure it's not perfect--they were calling him Octavian before the adoption, and "Octavian" gets kidnapped on his way to Gaul--but it's doing a wonderful job for historical fiction. And, of course, we must remember that this is fiction and meant for entertainment first and foremost. Moreover, the deviations are not nearly as distracting as they were in The Empire, and they were well done.
Naturally, I did have a couple issues with the show. Firstly, I have to agree with others that the nudity was a bit excessive. It wasn't even slave women we were seeing nude--it was Atia and Octavia. The later I definitely found unnecessary. On the other hand, I did want to point out that the first nudity we see is actually the captive king of the Gauls. Granted, it's not frontal nudity--and it certainly doesn't approach the overly sexual nudity of the women--but it's ever so slightly more balanced than most of television. I did, however, also have a really big issue with the make-up Atia made poor Octavia wear. I hate to say it, but she looked like a whore. And it was ugly. She was much prettier without it.
Secondly, there really was some over-the-top snobbery in this show. My "favourite" line was, "What a dreadful noise plebs make when they're happy." Riiiiiiiiight.
Overall, however, I am pleased with this show. I think HBO is definitely on the right track with Rome, and I'm glad to see something as good as this after the travesty that was The Empire.
And in case anyone missed it, rogueclassicism has had some excellent posts on Rome: Initial thoughts, Followup I (on Cato's toga), Followup II (on Octavian's kidnapping), Followup III (on Atia), Followup IV (on the Taurobolium), Followup V (on the use of "Octavian").
I want to extend my deepest thanks to David Meadows for providing such thorough coverage on Rome, because it kept me entertained and informed while I was waiting for my copy, and I don't have the time at the moment for such thorough investigation of those little nagging questions!