Is the New DaVinci's Demons Too Gory Or Is TV Finally Growing Up?
I almost stopped watching DaVinci's Demons after last season. Further, I was surprised to learn there was a second season. But I went there, anyway, and now this week Starz announced a greenlight for a third season.
Here's a snippet from my review last year:
DaVinci’s Demons on Starz is my newest guilty pleasure. Truth be told, it’s awful, with a capital BAD, historically inaccurate, and full of gratuitous everything, but the guy who plays DaVinci is just so hot, I can’t stop watching. You know, really hot, exactly the way you’d expect a fifteenth-century Renaissance man to look – chiseled features, tightly groomed five o’clock shadow, sparkling white teeth, and a haircut just like Gil’s from the Bubble Guppies. Sure, the first episode had nudity, flying, drug use, pyrotechnics, and rough sex, but, what am I? A prude? I pushed onward throughout the season, through time travel, more bare penises than I’d ever seen at once, torture, impromptu autopsies, and Vlad Dracula himself...
That's quite enough, no? Enough to make you actively avoid it?
Image via Starz
The creator of DaVinci's Demons, David Goyer, screenwriter of the Blade trilogy, Man of Steel, and the Batman trilogy, had a lot to live up to when he created this series. I didn't love the first season (um, see above), but the show was like a flaming car wreck during rush hour. I simply couldn't look away. If all that happened during Season One, I had to see what would happen during Season Two.
Before the series resumed on March 22, I did a little digging, and learned the cast consisted of mostly classically-trained British stage actors. I asked myself why classically-trained British stage actors would agree to such, well, drivel, including flapping genitalia, gratuitous nipple shots, and things that could clearly never happen. But I reminded myself the show is listed as Fantasy, and any of the items I mentioned could be classified as such.
I cringed as I began this season, covering my eyes with a blanket in the case of torture, blood, or Dracula's return - and then something happened...
The sets and locations were stunning. The dialogue was rich. The characters began to show increasing depth and complexity. It was almost like a real series. I was tenuous the first week or two, then into weeks three and four, and I found I was surprised to have been riveted by the story instead of all the low-hanging fruit. The show was evolving.
True, the plot's still got holes miles wide, and everyone's got a British accent (in 15th century Florence), but the acting's just so good.
Tom Riley, the actor who plays DaVinci himself, has never given me one moment to believe he's not actually a wiley genius, the supporting cast is consistent, clever, and a great complement to the star, and other characters brought in along the way only enhance the series. At this moment, I'd call this show a winner.
So, why the change? How did we go from Springer to Shakespeare in the Park?
I'm hoping it's because someone, somewhere, perhaps even the actors themselves, saw the value in acting over shock and awe. Sure, there are still sex scenes and heads, quite literally, popping off, but the frequency and intensity are far less than during Season One. If there is an episode of sex or violence, it fits much more seamlessly into the plot of the story. And the best part? I'm no longer embarrassed to watch it.
Whatever the reason (which we may never learn), the improvements made in DaVinci's Demons have turned a leery onlooker into a loyal fan.
Could this be the beginning of a trend? Tried and true entertainment trumping over-the-top antics? Could reality shows become extinct and be replaced with well-acted dramas? (Dare I even go that far?) And, if so, what of our other beloved, yet disgusting, shows like American Horror Story? We'll just have to see. I hear there's a carnival next season...
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