In 1492 while Columbus was sailing the ocean blue to discover the Americas things weren't so tidy in Rome. It was a time when the papacy was in disrepair with popes having wives and mistresses and all manner of scandal (sound oddly acquainted...) and from this era in history highly regarded writer Neil Jordan has pasted along enough info regarding the infamous Borgias - 'the primary crime family' in keeping with the PR - to create what resulted during a fascinating account of world history, a fitting series whose first season of nine episodes are tied together during this package of DVDs.
For starters, the gap title sequences are masterworks of graphics and art history albeit splatter or washed in blood. The series opens with the nefarious Spanish family taking on the important Roman power vested in the papacy: Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons in a splendid tour de force of acting), becomes Pope Alexander VI when Pope Innocent VIII dies. As Pope, the elder Borgia gains election of his son Cesare (François Arnaud, a stunningly gifted young and handsome actor in one among his very initial roles) to the College of Cardinals whereas his other son, the libidinous Juan (David Oakes) is created head of the military: these sons and the daughter Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger) are the youngsters by the pope's 'wife' Vanozza Cattaneo (Joanne Whaley), though the pope is currently within the throes of a sordid relationship with Giulia Farnese (Lotte Verbeek). One cardinal - Giuliano Della Rovere (Colm Feore) - is out to depose the unctuous Borgia reign and works with outside forces to overthrow Pope Alexander VI and makes alliances with King Charles VIII of France (Michel Muller). Within the meantime Lucrezia is married off to the rather piggish Giovanni Sforza (Ronan Vibert) for financial gain for the papacy but prefers sleeping with the illiterate commoner groomsman Paulo (Luke Pasqualino). Cesare appears to be the wisest of the descendants (despite a love affair with a married lady) however the complete family wiles its approach into the role of oily evil that sets the stage for the episodes to follow.
The cast is uniformly wonderful: there are cameo roles for the likes of Derek Jacobi, Sean Harris, Steven Berkoff, etc. The settings and costumes are enormously successful and therefore the pacing of the action is fast - however not too fast to pause here and there for some rather graphic sensual scenes and gross and bloody fighting. it's the flavor of the times down to a fare-thee-well, creating in us to anticipate the following season to begin. Very worthwhile watching on every level.
If you want to be part of this exciting thriller see The Borgias Season 1