Hmm. Well, now that I have the time, it suddenly occurred to me that I should recap Empire. I mean, hey, it's only six episodes, right? Also, ABC would have you know that it is THE BIGGEST TELEVISION EVENT OF THE SUMMER!!, because, judging from the commercials, nothing says "quality TV" like "women wearing fruit."
But they're showing two of those episodes tonight [Editor's note: I started writing this right after the show ended. You'll see what I mean]--that is so much recapping! Woe unto me, what shall I do? So I watched it in a chat room with some fine folks as a means of sort of taking notes. Little did I realize, however, that this is basically fifteen minutes of show in a two-hour bag. Which is still plenty of time to get drunk, if you play the Crap Miniseries Drinking Game, Empire Edition: drink whenever you hear "Hail Caesar!," "...for the Republic!," "protect," and, if you really have an iron liver, anything stolen from a movie. Warning: I am not responsible for the inevitable death by alcohol poisoning if you do this.
Rome, 44 B.C. It is a time of plummy "British" accents and vaguely ethnic ululating. The voiceover--we will find out that it is a Vestal Virgin Voiceover--goes on and on about blah blah on the shoulders of one gladiator blee. Our gladiator is named Tyrannus, because the gods have a sense of humor, and the actor is named Jonathan Cake, because... well, ditto. None of us were impressed with him at the beginning of the show, but let me tell you what, we were clinging to this guy like a lifejacket by the end. MmmsomeguynamedCake.
P.S. Everything in this series, or miniseries, or whatever, is ripped off from some movie.
You know that first fight Russell Crowe has in Gladiator, in the little rinky-dink arena where he's all like, "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED"? Yeah. Rip that scene out and start this show with that. Despite the series having a budget of $50 million--this is what I was hearing, anyway--the grandstands are made of, like, plywood, or maybe popsicle sticks. Caesar and half the senators are there, and I really, really hope this is not the show's attempt at portraying the Coliseum, because it looks a lot like the plank fort we used to have on the playground. Also, I have no idea what they talked about. Seriously, I think my brain has blocked it out in hopes of saving itself. Blah blah politics blah, blibbity blabbity every conversation that's ever been in any movie about Rome ever: The senate is Rome! No, the mob is Rome! No it's not! Yes it is! Maaaaaaaaaaaa, he got his mob in my Rooooooooome! And so on. Oh, and Caesar tells his sister ("Atia"?) that she spoils Octavius, and she's like, yeah, but you gave him the twenty awesome horses for his birthday, and I'm going, Don't ask what he did with the horses. Don't ask what he did with the horses.
[Simultaneously:]Someone pointed out at this point that Cicero is actually being played by an actor from Braveheart--the guy who was going to rape Wallace's wife!--but I totally didn't believe it until I looked it up for myself. Julius Caesar is Colm Feore, whom I associate most readily with The Chronicles of Riddick. Also, I think his golden laurel circlet is made of plastic. It's that kind of movie. Oh, and Caesar's nephew Octavius is an Orlando Bloom-lite screwup who's late for gladiation because he was with his girlfriend, who is basically the Roman Mila Kunis. Back at the arena, they totally namecheck the Battle of Carthage (second big fight in Gladiator. Maybe third?), and a bunch of guys in weird masks come out, and Tyrannus has two swords and throws elbows undaunted and kills everyone bloodlessly, which we accomplish by cutting to Caesar and a bunch of senators in the stands at opportune moments.
Princess Cleolinda:: wait, is that the music from Braveheart?
matrixchick:: do my ears hear braveheartesque music?
sneezydove:: hey it's the music from braveheart!
VESTAL VIRGIN TEMPLE. No, really, it says that on the TV. Seriously, you have to see these location titles for the scenes; the font's almost... Wild West-looking. Anyway, Octavius hits on our Vestal Virgin Voiceover chick. They talk about gods and Minerva and blah. Vaguely ethnic wailing (Titanic?) warbles in the background. The Vestal Virgin
Blah blah more politics blah. Mark Anthony looks like someone, but I can't think who. Really light eyes, very striking. Tom Sizemore, but without the batshit? NO! I KNOW WHO IT IS! IT'S EUDORUS FROM TROY! Damn, these people are shameless.
(I should mention here that the IMDB credits list him as "Marc Anthony." This character has requested that I change the spelling to the more historically correct "Mark Anthony," or even "Mark Antony" if I'm feeling real pedantic, because, as he says, "Not married to J. Lo, kthnx.")
elysium:: OKAY so, will someone tell me what the hell is going on so far?THE SLAVE QUARTERS. You know, for a slave, Tyrannus's wife dresses pretty well. They have a kid named... Piso? You mean, like... Spanish for "floor"? Apparently. He teaches Piso to swordfight with wooden spoons and then Piso is sent to bed and Tyrannus and his wife make out because poor heroic people are always in love and Happy Despite Their Limited Circumstances. Rich people? EBIL. Speaking of which, Tyrannus wakes up to find, like, a Jedi master hanging around outside his little mudbrick of a house. Hey, it's Caesar! Hail Caesar (drink)! Caesar takes Tyrannus walking in a giant field of wheat in daylight, so--damn, that wheat field must have been far away. Hell, I think I see Maximus's kid playing in the background. Caesar takes way too much time explaining the significance of the wooden sword he's giving Tyrannus as a symbol of his freedom so his son won't grow up in chains because LOOK, WE ALL SAW GLADIATOR, OKAY? In return, Tyrannus just has to protect... you know, I forget who. Caesar? Octavius? All I know is, when shit goes down, Tyrannus ain't anywhere near, so the point, she is moot. Tyrannus is all choked up: "I... I don't know what to say." TAKE THE SWORD ALREADY! I'm telling you, everything on this show happens in real time; it's excruciating. They stare at each other moistly.
Princess Cleolinda:: jack shit, ely
Princess Cleolinda:: they ripped off the middle of gladiator, and politics are boring
StephenTrendy:: this applebee's commercial looks like it has a bigger budget
[Half the chat defects to House.]
And then they make out.
Okay, they probably didn't really.
VESTAL VIRGIN TEMPLE. The city of Rome looks like the producer's kid made it for an English project. Camaro's all upset because there's bad juju in the bowls of vestal goat blood or whatever. Virgin Superior Amanda Root is like, "Later, kid, I gotta get back to the Regency era."
SOME MARKETPLACE IN THE SLAVE QUARTER, OR SOMETHING. Look, all I know is that Wifey takes Piso out to the market, and while she's looking at flowers some creepshow with a freaky cataract swipes young Floor, and she runs through the market screaming, "Piso! Pisoooo! PIIIIIIIIIISOOOOOOOOOO!," although I started to wonder at this point if she was actually saying "MISO," or if maybe she was just really hungry, yet woefully unable to find a good restaurant. And then she runs to get Tyrannus at the Gladiation Academy or whatever and she's all like "OMG I LOST PISO" and Tyrannus races to the market and starts screaming for PIIIISOOOO himself, and he keeps asking if anyone's seen a kid "this high," and all the slave extras just stare at him, because hell, the show can't even afford a decent set; they're sure as hell not paying for gratuitous speaking parts.
CAESAR'S TOTALLY SWEET MANSION. Atia: "Brother, do not go to Rome!" Octavius: "Uncle, do not go to Rome!" Vestal Virgin Camaro: "Hail Caesar, the goat blood says don't go to Rome!" Atia and Octavius just kind of stare at her. Caesar goes to Rome, because he fears nothing and will die as he lived and--goat blood? Seriously?
So what we have next is this whole flashing-back-and-forth thing between Tyrannus and Caesar, all set to the enthusiastic wailing of Our Lady of Soundtrack Sorrow, and I'm telling you, this is the last big scene in this episode, and it starts at eight thirty-five. Cataract Man gives Tyrannus the stink-eye (perhaps literally), and Tyrannus chases him into some dark alley or catacomb or something because they pay him for his gladiation, not his book-learnin', and a bunch of henchdudes are there and of course Tyrannus kills them all. But it takes a really, really long time. And in between every frickin' punch, we cut back to Caesar... sloooowly... inching up... [PUNCH] the Senate... [THRUST] stairs... [PARRY] Haaaaaaail... [STABNATION] Caeeeeesar. Mark Anthony is diverted. The conspirators stare at each other. Caesar sits dowwwwwwwwn. The senators staaaaaaaare. Some Guy comes up and asks Caesar for something and Caesar's like, "Shpffft, hell no," and Some Guy pulls him forward and aaaaall the senatorrrrrrrs staaaaaaaaaaab hiiiiiiiiiiiim. WooooOEoeOEoeOeOeOEOEOEoeoeoeoeEEEEEEEEE
Okay. I wanted to have this recap done last night as a surprise. Yeah, it was two hours, but, as we have established, a full fifteen minutes (I am not making this up) was taken up with The Sloooooooooow Death of Juuuuuulius Caeeeeeeeeeesarrrrrrrrrr. But in the middle of writing that last paragraph, I was suddenly gripped with this deathly urge to sleep. Seriously, like I would have a seizure and faceplant on my keyboard if I did not go lie down. Forget the Ambien commercials between each segment, man--all you need is Empire.
So now it's Wednesday and we're still on the Deaaaaaath of Caeeeeeeesarrrrrrrrr. And do you know what he says when young Brutus (who has a strong resemblance to Mr. Bean, I must say) comes up for the last stab? "You... too... my child?" A zombie hand pushes up through the dirt over Shakespeare's grave and gives this show the finger. Meanwhile, Tyrannus retrieves young Floor and he's about to leave and Cataract Guy is like, "You may have saved your son, but what about your CAESAR?" And Tyrannus goes galloping off--I guess he throws Floor into the hut on his way--and this is why I say it doesn't really matter who Caesar asked Tyrannus to protect, because: yeah. He dead. Well, not yet, actually--Tyrannus makes it to the Senate and Caesar is STILL ALIVE. Thirty stab wounds, and he's still kickin'. "Ty...ran... nus... you must... protect him... because... we have clearly... established that... you're so good at... protecting..." Tyrannus, cradling Caesar in his arms, is all like, "Who? WHO?" "You must... protect..." "YES, GOT IT, WHO?" "Not... Mark Anthony... My... heir... Octavius..." And just when you're thinking that this is more protracted than That Death Scene in Matrix Revolutions, Caesar's arm does the Death Flop. Now, this may have been mentioned in one of the Politics Are Boring sections and I just missed it, but apparently this "my heir Octavius" thing is a big ol' WTF. And just then Mark Anthony shows up and he's all shocked and distraught (*emo tear*). And then Mark Anthony storms downstairs to, like, the basement of the Senate (what?) or something, where all the conspirators are hanging out feeling guilty and/or cranky in their bloody robes, and he's all like YOU ASSHATS and Cassius is like STFU and the mob outside is like RAAAA and Mark Anthony's all like, "All I want is to honor Caesar, say, with a funeral speech that will fuck your shit up," and Cassius is like, "Not no but HELL NO."
CAESAR'S TOTALLY SWEET MANSION. I don't know who's playing Atia--I mean, the name didn't ring a bell--but she reminds me a lot of Olivia Hussey. Anyway, Tyrannus rides up and she's all like, "Ew, get your sweaty hands off me, slave!," and he's like, "OMGWTFCAESARISDEAD" and she won't believe him until finally he's like, "LOOK, I AM SUPPOSED TO PROTECT YOUR SON, SO MOVE IT OR LOSE IT." And Octavius is all like, "Whaaaa?" And Tyrannus is all like, "I SWORE TO PROTECT YOU," and Octavius is all like, "Whatever, Aragorn." Look! The Evil Romans are coming! Atia sends them off on horses and they gallop off through more fieeeelds of wheeeat and Tyrannus has to bust out some more stabnation with a Dramatic Unsheathing of Sword(s) and I was like, "I swear to God, if he holds that sword in front of his face, I'm... hey, he's kinda hot." And so Tyrannus and Octavius are safe. FOR NOW.
And then they ride off into the sunset, The Heir of Caesar and His Kind of Hot But Not Very Good at Protecting Protector. And they totally make out as the Vestal Virgin Voiceover (VVVO) blah-blahs on about something.
Princess Cleolinda:: okay, what's this music?
Princess Cleolinda:: it's kind of Indiana Jones Love Theme
kitten rat:: left over from a Danielle Steele
Brainchild:: It sounds vaguely like music from the Mask of Zorro
StephenTrendy:: it sounds like the Star Wars music when Luke is watching the suns set
sneezydove:: it's still kinda braveheart to me
No, for real.
Okay, probably not.
(To be continued.)