September 20, 2018

Winnipeg
11° C, Overcast

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Opinion

The dark side of da Vinci

Cable drama takes a look at genius from decidedly different angle

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/6/2013 (1925 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Any student of history -- heck, anyone who's ever been a student at all -- would recognize Leonardo da Vinci as one of the world's greatest multi-faceted intellects -- a painter, sculptor, inventor, mathematician, engineer, anatomist, cartographer, writer and more.

But only a viewer of the new made-for-cable drama Da Vinci's Demons might think of the legendary Italian Renaissance thinker as a rabble-rouser, a womanizer, a deadly ambidextrous swordsman, a drinker, an incorrigible late-night carouser and an opium-smoking idealistic dreamer.

Da Vinci's Demons, which premi®res Friday, June 14 at 8 p.m. on Super Channel, is the latest drama offering from U.S. cable's Starz network, the specialty service that gave us four seasons of the blood-soaked and sex-obsessed CGI spectacle Spartacus (which aired in western Canada on Movie Central).

Clearly, the goal with Da Vinci's Demons is to capitalize on, and build upon, the audience generated by Spartacus, Starz's most successful and longest-running original series to date. In addition to the necessary nods to science, art and invention that must be part of any drama focused on the great man, this "historical fantasy drama (that) follows the 'untold' story of the world's greatest genius" also delivers generous helpings of sex and violence, set against an ornate 15th-century backdrop that is completely the product of 21st-century digital-effects wizardry.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 60 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 60 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 60 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/6/2013 (1925 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Tom Riley is an unorthodox Leonardo da Vinci.

�� 2013 ADJACENT, LLC

Tom Riley is an unorthodox Leonardo da Vinci.

Any student of history — heck, anyone who's ever been a student at all — would recognize Leonardo da Vinci as one of the world's greatest multi-faceted intellects — a painter, sculptor, inventor, mathematician, engineer, anatomist, cartographer, writer and more.

But only a viewer of the new made-for-cable drama Da Vinci's Demons might think of the legendary Italian Renaissance thinker as a rabble-rouser, a womanizer, a deadly ambidextrous swordsman, a drinker, an incorrigible late-night carouser and an opium-smoking idealistic dreamer.

Da Vinci's Demons, which premi®res Friday, June 14 at 8 p.m. on Super Channel, is the latest drama offering from U.S. cable's Starz network, the specialty service that gave us four seasons of the blood-soaked and sex-obsessed CGI spectacle Spartacus (which aired in western Canada on Movie Central).

Clearly, the goal with Da Vinci's Demons is to capitalize on, and build upon, the audience generated by Spartacus, Starz's most successful and longest-running original series to date. In addition to the necessary nods to science, art and invention that must be part of any drama focused on the great man, this "historical fantasy drama (that) follows the 'untold' story of the world's greatest genius" also delivers generous helpings of sex and violence, set against an ornate 15th-century backdrop that is completely the product of 21st-century digital-effects wizardry.

The tone of the series is set in its first few moments, as 25-year-old Leonardo da Vinci (played by Tom Riley) is invited to share an opium pipe with a mysterious Turkish visitor. OK, so the genius is into mind-expanding drugs. Next, the action flashes back a few days and we see Leo in a sun-soaked meadow, sketching feverishly while flirting with a topless female model; moments later, he convinces a young assistant to strap himself to a cumbersome, kite-like device so he can test its airworthiness by towing it behind a horse-drawn wagon that he sets careening across the meadow.

Back in the medieval muck of downtown Florence, da Vinci catches the eye of the beautiful Lucrezia Donati (Laura Haddock), who, as the mistress of powerful nobleman Lorenzo Medici (Elliot Cowan), represents exactly the sort of forbidden fruit that headstrong (and groin-steered) Leonardo can't resist.

When he gets into yet another brush with the law, defending a stranger being bullied by soldiers in a tavern, we learn that Leonardo is the bastard son of a member of the royal court, and that his father has almost run out of patience when it comes to extricating the young genius from the trouble he creates for himself.

Da Vinci's mischief, however, seems quite trifling when compared to the power-crazed antics of the Medici clan or, even worse, the blood-thirsty savagery of the papacy. Indeed, there's much menacing madness afoot.

By the end of the series premi®re, series creator David S. Goyer (co-writer of the Dark Knight trilogy) has created a narrative that is labyrinthian, preposterous and yet somehow oddly compelling. His whimsical re-imagining of da Vinci as an action hero (portrayed with likable panache by Riley) is patently silly but rather entertaining to watch, sort of a 15th-century version of James Bond who's probably as close as his pre-nuclear age could come to spawning a superhero.

Simply put, it's good, dumb summer fun.

 

— — —

 

Checking in: Also premiering Friday on Super Channel (at 9 p.m., after Da Vinci) is Season 2 of the retro-cool drama Magic City, which follows the efforts of circa-1960 Florida hotelier Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to maintain his Miramar Playa Hotel's status as a stylish Miami Beach destination while trying to extricate himself from the Mob ties that originally financed his dream.

The series' sophomore season features the arrival of new cast member James Caan as an organized-crime boss from Chicago who takes a dangerous interest in goings-on at the Miramar Playa.

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @BradOswald

Brad Oswald

Brad Oswald
Perspectives Editor

After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

History

Updated on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 10:06 AM CDT: adds fact box

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.