Ancient Rome and Google Ads (unrelated!)
If I've twisted anyone's arms into clicking ads, my apologies.
I appealed their decision, but I don't know if it's worth it. And of course by talking about this here, I've probably discouraged anyone from ever clicking again!
Edit to add: These shouldn't be confused with the Amazon ads, which have been working quite nicely and, I hope, productively to your experience.
Anyway, on to more fun things!
I just got back from a wonderful discussion panel on Ancient Rome, the Rise and Fall of an Empire with Mark Hedgecoe (director and producer), Simon Baker (researcher and author of the book--link will be below), Professor Mary Beard (history consultant).
I haven't actually had the chance to view the series myself, but it was a very interesting look at what goes into making a docudrama and why certain choices were made. Obviously, the order of the series is a major outrage to many historians. Their excuse about the need to draw in an audience with the first episode actually seems dismally valid. Poor Tiberius Gracchus just isn't going to get the same following as the emperor who fiddled while Rome burned.
I can't really speak on other choices, since I haven't seen the series, but it seems like the series has its ups and downs. I do now know there's a lovely Roman funeral, at least!
I think, however, the reason I'm generally tempted to judge this more harshly than HBO's Rome is simply because this is a series claiming to be history more so than entertainment. The entertainment focus gave HBO's Rome more leeway, and it still managed to impress many of us with the details they decided to include anyway (that were, honestly, above and beyond what most other Rome entertainment shows tend to include).
But I also agree with the panelists here that there is, to some extent, a need to captivate an audience that might not otherwise watch. It's easy to say, "Well, the actual history is riveting enough, if portrayed well!" True, but you also need a line that'll bring in the general audience in the first place. And with a little bit of luck (and good storytelling), the rest will suck 'em in for good!
I also have to agree that this is, hopefully, not the be-all-end-all and is just a starting point for further research and discussion. But maybe that's hoping for too much.
There was also very interesting discussion on the choices of episodes, which I imagine can't have been an easy process. I am, however, a little bummed that Zenobia didn't make the cut. If they wanted more women, she would have been ideal. And I'm probably biased, but I think she was significant enough to have made the cut as well--if only to show the flavour and the reach of Roman society that a woman like Zenobia could have come so close. At any rate, she is an ideal candidate for dramatization.
Anyway, it was a very interesting and informative session. I don't know that I'll necessarily be easier on adaptations now (I think I'm already pretty "easy" compared to many others!), but I do believe I'll be approaching them with more understanding for why choices are made.
Still, I'd like to see really historically accurate dramatizations done with great writing, big budget, and great actors solely with historians in mind for an audience. Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?
-Ancient Rome DVD (available only in the UK at the moment)
-Simon Baker's book (Amazon UK)
For the U.S.: