I write a review of the pilot episode for Da Vinci’s Demons, The Hanged Man, the new Starz series created by David S. Goyer, writer behind The Dark Knight Trilogy and the upcoming Man of Steel.
S1x01: “The Hanged Man”
Another day, another TV Review. Only this time, it’s something different. Compared to yesterday’s Space-Western Defiance, Da Vinci’s Demons is a bold new take on Leonardo himself, and David S. Goyer does a superb job at bringing Reinessance-era Florence to life, and if you’ve enjoyed Da Vinci’s character in Assassin’s Creed, or indeed have been a fan of Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones, Game of Thrones or indeed The Shakespeare Code from Doctor Who Series 3 (which I was), then this series might just be right up your street, introducing us to the adventures of Leonardo Da Vinci, played expertly by Tom Riley who is very entertaining and memorable in his role of Da Vinci.
The visual aspects of this show are very strong indeed. Florence looks very realistic, and I loved the whole design of the city itself in the establishing shots, and can’t wait to explore more of it in future episodes. However, if you’re expecting a TV program that the family can watch then you’ve come to the wrong place. Hugh Bonneville, The Duke of Milan, not only dismisses his much younger male lover earlier on but also gets stabbed shortly afterwards upon his arrival at a church, establishing immediately for anyone who doesn’t know their history that the rulers of Italy didn’t get on well at all, and there is most likely going to be some very intense political drama at work here, much like Game of Thrones.
However, the episode itself doesn’t really create a strong sense of plot direction despite the opening assassination and political intrigue. We’re not given a clear direction of where the series is going to go from here, in a similar problem that I had with Defiance. However, this episode itself is very focused on the introduction of one main character – Leonardo Da Vinci himself, who dominates the bulk of the screen-time, coming across as a blend of Indiana Jones and Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes as already stated, with no Ezio Auditore in sight. Seriously – can you imagine how awesome it would be if they even referenced Ezio’s family just once? But alas, as Ezio didn’t exist – we’re probably not going to see Assassin’s Creed references any time soon.
Whilst this may not be the best show for a purist, Da Vinci’s Demons is still a very entertaining look at the character and his inventions. I can’t wait to see what they have to show to us in future episodes of the series, which I will most certainly be sticking around for. I mean, I was really impressed by this debut, even if Da Vinci is probably the only memorable character here, as the others don’t really have enough screen time to make their presence felt, although I look forward to see how the friendship between Da Vinci and his two companions, Nico and Zoroaster develops in future episodes.
DA VINCI’S DEMONS SEASON 1: S1x01: The Hanged Man, S1x02: The Serpent, COMING SOON: S1x03: The Prisoner, S1x04: The Magician, S1x05: The Tower, S1x06: The Devil, S1x07: The Hierophant, S1x08: The Lovers