23 March 2007

The End Of Rome (updated, briefly)

In a few days, HBO will air the last episode of Rome, its two-season series about the rise and fall of Caesar (Season One) and Mark Antony (Season Two). Apparently the cost of producing the show became prohibitive, despite the raves and ratings it regularly gathered, so HBO's ending it outright, even though there are hundreds of years of possible stories to tell. Too bad, but this blog’s wondering if HBO will be tempted to end the show in a fashion familiar to viewers, rather than merely follow history, given the programme’s willingness to junk history for spectacle. (See, for example, Brutus’ death in battle rather than his historical suicide.) So, let’s consider some of the possibilities:
  • Camera comes in on a woman in bed, and then pans up to reveal the sleeping figure of Calpurnia. She wakes up, rubs her eyes, and sleepily makes her way to the vomitorium (last night being what it was); and there she discovers--- gasp and haw--- Caesar, alive and well! It was a dream! It was all a dream!

  • Or, in a similar fashion, Pompey wakes up one morning to find himself in bed with Suzanne Pleshette. (A Pompous circumstance, no less.)

  • Octavian, having eradicated Antony and Cleopatra accordingly, sails away from the Egyptian shore and discovers that Antony has left, in stone marks upon the pyramids, the word "Goodbye." [Cue "Suicide Is Painless" as everyone begins crying and rending their garments.]

  • Alternately, Octavian, sailing away, perceives three figures, covered in something vaguely resembling powdered-sugar: the ghosts of the First Triumvirate. Caesar gently pats Pompey on the shoulder, while Mark Antony appears, finally at peace with himself. Octavian then goes off and, ahem, "hugs" his sister, while soldiers dressed as teddy-bears dance goofily in celebration.

  • Antony goes backwards and forwards on his commitments to Octavia and Cleopatra, and takes off, ostensibly to marry one or the other, while his friends idle about and drink, lamenting the end of an era. Eventually Antony returns, miraculously single, reclaims Egypt, and gets royally sauced with his much-more-important-than-women fellows in drink. A ninety-minute reunion episode follows, hosted by Jay Leno.

  • Octavian and Pullo, sauntering away from the dead Tony and Cleo, gaze knowingly at one another, until Octavian suggests that this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

  • Octavian, now Augustus Caesar, is drinking wine in Agrippa’s office, just having discharged Posca for his latest information. Then Octavian looks into the bottom of his goblet, as Agrippa explains the order to his chaos, saying that you have to see the whole picture. Cassius, Cassius, Cassius: and there at the bottom of the goblet, the maker of it, while the camera pans away to a lean and hungry bastard walking gleefully away. "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled...."

  • Frogs fall on Egypt. But at this time, no one can be bothered to notice.

  • Antony, in committing suicide, swears, upon that dying sword, that it’s a far, far better thing that he does than he has ever done before. No one, curiously, disagrees with him.

  • Atia, returned to Rome, so much having happened, rests in bed, caressing herself. And yes he would say yes he would yes, she moans, as the closing credits roll.

  • Octavian chases Antony and Cleopatra to the top of the Sphinx, where, naturally, she falls off and hangs by the creature’s nose, until he pulls he up (Octavian having fallen off in the interim), and pulls her into a sweet and decadent embrace. On a barge and in a bunk together. (Surprise, surprise.)

  • Marcus Aurelius appears, and snottily says, "Stop this! Stops this!" He immediately arrests the entire cast and shuts down production.

  • Octavian and Agrippa, successful at last in their vanquishing of Antony ("that’s Anthony!") and his scourge, sail off into Mediterranean--- and then inexplicably land. They debark and walk into the sunset, toward a waiting limousine, which carries them off as an appropriate Eastern anthem burgeons....
What’s your favourite? Got one of your own? Toss ’em up in the penis pitchfork peanut gallery.

/and, yeah, I guess I’m kinda back; kinda....
// and yeah, made it all this with way without a Caligula reference. I must be getting mild in my old age.

FOLLOWUP:  Naturally, it ended with a little bit of historical fantasy.  I'll be kind and not spoil it, but suffice to say there was a little Caesarion resectioning, with a note of Casablanca to boot.  Oy vey.  


RK said...

Ave atque vale. Two slight corrections: 1) It is the Sphinx that hangs from Cleo's peerless nose, not vice versa; 2) You are too hard on that nice man Marcus Aurelius. The one who cries 'Stop! Stop!' and has everyone arrested can be none other than Cato the Censor.

j said...

hey, mebbe they could end with some fastforward historical (ok, that makes no sense at all) perspective, all the treachery and murderous plots that follow on from the death of antony as some frenetic mtv mv (complete with music , mebbe the godfather's soundtrack? hehe, some people are gonna be pissed)ending with some reference to the HRE (the historians would throw a fit but hey, who cares) which could be the start of another trashy drama :D

cato sounds familiar for some reason...

Dr J said...

Don't ask my why, RK, but you remind me, with that Ave atque vale, of Eric Nicol explaining that "A mari usque ad mare" was Latin for "a little water with that whisky." Which, ironically, is closer than you'd think, at least in Irish Latin. ;-)

(If Timberlake can do Sexyback, Van Morrison should consider Usquebach. Can't be any worse, surely.)

I do wonder if Rome will end in a way that will indicate what a successful leader Octavian would be. The series adapts him as little more than a clever prig with a fetish for sadism.

j said...

and to think I thought there was some correlation between the clever prig and the fetish for sadism....

Dr J said...

As a clever prig, I'd like to say there's no correlation with sadism. Now lie down on the railroad tracks, my dear.... ;-)

j said...

after my last blog post , am disposed to be kind to men ;P

as portraits go, dorian gray's probably the creepiest (talk about stains...)

sure dr j,no correlation. don't like the tracks but you could try lying down on the M40 , you won't be incoveniencing many 'cos it's kinda slow most days ... ooh, forgot the should be nice part ;P

Dr J said...

Actually had some questions about these endings, so here are the referents, in order: Dallas; Newhart; MASH; The Return of the Jedi; Cheers; Casablanca; The Usual Suspects; Magnolia vis a vis Exodus; A Tale of Two Cities; Joyce's Ulysses; North by Northwest; Monty Python and the Holy Grail; and Blazing Saddles. So there. How odd to be explicating myself....

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