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Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season(TV) (2013)
In a world where thought and faith are controlled, one man fights to set knowledge free. The secret history of Leonardo Da Vinci's tantalizing life reveals a portrait of a young man tortured by a gift of superhuman genius. He is a heretic intent on exposing the lies of religion. An insurgent seeking to subvert an elitist society. He finds himself in the midst of a storm that has been brewing for centuries. A conflict between truth and lies, religion and reason, past and future. His aspirations are used against him by the opposing forces of the time—luring him into a game of seduction where those who despise his intellect need him most.
For more about Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season and the Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 10, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Riley, Laura Haddock, Elliot Cowan, Tom Bateman, Allan Corduner, Blake Ritson
Director: David S. Goyer
» See full cast & crew
Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
Not so inventive as its protagonist.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 10, 2013
Some doorways lead into darkness.
While network television airwaves are occupied by the screeching sounds of reality television "dialogue" and the fabricated "drama" of empty entertainment that accompanies it, cable television has not-so-quietly ventured into another arena, ignoring the lucrative world of the vacuous and unintentionally socially scathing "reality" programing in favor of adult-oriented drama packed with envelope-pushing content that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago but that is now as commonplace on the small screen as it is on the large screen. While modern-day tales of zombies and meth cookers have dazzled audiences and generated incredible ratings and cash reserves, there's an obvious push towards gritty, re-imagined historical drama that may have its basis in fictionalized fact and substantive content but that is superficially defined by an arguable excess of sex, nudity, violence, and language. Highly successful programs like Spartacus, The Borgias, and the Ken Follett miniseries adaptations have found commercial success and critical praise for the blending of history with lurid support elements. Starz's new program, Da Vinci's Demons, offers much of the same as a solidly constructed clone program in the style of The Borgias that sexes up history in a fresh, modern-influenced, and, it would seem, precisely calculated package meant to mimic what sells while only replacing the necessary names and faces to grab an established audience.
Young inventor, forward-thinker, artist, and vegetarian Leonardo da Vinci (Tom Riley) lives in Florence, one region where he believes his ideas and radical thoughts will be tolerated, maybe even embraced. With the help of sidekicks Zoroaster (Gregg Chillin) and Nico (Eros Vlahos), his multiple talents earn him multiple admirers and enemies from all sides, those who see the value in his ideas and abilities, those who fear them, and those who don't understand them. And that division, even in Florence, is understandable. Mechanical birds, menacing new weapons, armored vehicles, and even contraptions that allow man to fly are as frightening as they are amazing in 15th century Europe. As his ideas gain traction -- he's taken on by the influential Lorenzo de' Medici (Elliot Cowan) to construct new weapons of war for Florence -- word of his talents spreads. He also lusts for de' Medici's mistress, Lucrezia (Laura Haddock), while a mysterious figure (Alexander Siddig) guides him towards "The Book of Leaves," a tome that promises da Vinci immense knowledge.
Da Vinci's Demons does little more than repurpose a well known, albeit abstractly well known, historical figure into the mold of trendy cable television programming. That's all fine and good, but there's just nothing new here. It plays like a rehash of The Borgias blended with Ken Follett, achieving little structural or substantive novelty and getting its mileage only from the name of the lead character while riding the wave of adult oriented television success. The show literally begins with Da Vinci hitting the bong, followed by nudity, allusions of homosexual sex, an F-bomb, and gushing blood. Never does the show go to the extremes of Spartacus, but it makes its style and intentions known right from the outset, capturing the audience it wishes to capture and letting everyone else know what to expect from the program. So it's not at all dissimilar from its brethren on the surface, but neither is it all that unique elsewhere. It's a typical tale of corrupted politics and religion, dark themes, and shady dealings. There are secret identities and positions, lustful advances, double crosses, scheming galore, and all variety of nefarious fun that just never does find its own identity on a macro level. In short, Da Vinci's Demons seems content to copy rather than innovate. It'll please hardcore fans of the style, irritate those yearning for something different, and fail to capture the disinterested or those too enthralled by those zombies and drug deals on the other channel (or, in this case, in the other Blu-ray boxes).
The show is at its best when it drifts away from the shady politics and dark dealings and instead takes a lively, inspired glimpse into Da Vinci's genius, whether as an artist, an inventor, or even something of a sleuth. The program jazzes things up considerably, making centuries-old inventions flashier than they probably should be, even considering their forward-thinking natures. It also works Da Vinci's personal backstory into the plot in an integral fashion and to strong dramatic value and success, creating a more complex man who becomes greater than the sum of his artistic and mechanical productions. It's all seamlessly integrated with the more dynamic pieces, yielding a net success even considering the rather blasé nature of the more highly charged drama that produces as much a feeling of déjŕ vu as it does true dramatic excitement. Technically, the show impresses, built through quality direction, acceptable writing, passable though occasionally murky and obviously phony visual effects, and a memorable score courtesy of Bear McCreary who also composes for The Walking Dead. The cast is effective and shows the potential for growth but is now absent that sort of unforgettable, genre-defining, and series-shaping performance or performances that have elevated other decent shows to greater success.
Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season's 1080p, 1.78:1-framed high definition transfer is expectedly gorgeous. The image appears very well defined, usually very sharp, exceptionally clear, and naturally colored. A few softer shots creep in from time to time, but such are rare exceptions to what is otherwise an eye-catching presentation. Details are generally exacting. Skin textures are intimately revealed and costume lines -- whether frayed garb or heavy armor -- showcase exceptional detailing. Image clarity is strong, helping to define background elements and keep stone and brick work sharp and tactile. Colors are bold and balanced. Regal hues and shades exposed under bright lights are particularly strong, but even in lower light or in front of challenging overcast skies, the palette remains steady and pure. Black levels are deep and home to only minimal noise. Skin tones appear natural and balanced. The image shows no major compression problems. This is an excellent all-around transfer from Anchor Bay.
Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack delivers a high quality listening experience in all areas of concern. Musical presence is balanced and spacious, playing large but not overwhelming the stage. Clarity falls on the top end of the chart, and the surrounds carry just the right amount of information. Ambient effects prove effective in sonically recreating the old Florence locations. Dripping water accenting an older locale or chatter and animals shaping the experience of an olden open-air market are fine examples of the track's immersion capabilities. Action effects enjoy the appropriate level of chaos; explosions, clanking swords, and all variety of mayhem are nicely implemented throughout the season. Dialogue plays evenly and clearly, rounding a high-end listen into form.
Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season contains several episode-specific audio commentaries and a few fluff extras found on disc three. All episodes, save for the first, are available with optional plot recaps.
Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season skillfully weaves together intrigue, shady dealings, dark themes, religion, politics, mystery, lust, and love, all while tinkering with all sorts of mechanical inventions and artistic skills that have made Leonardo da Vinci a household name and, now, with a face and a charisma to match. But the show doesn't escape the staleness that hangs over it. It feels like a repeat of The Borgias and all of the other modern-influenced histo-dramas floating about on television and home video. That doesn't make it a bad show, just one that's largely stuck in the shadow of better programming. Perhaps season two will set it apart from the pack, but season one, for as oftentimes captivating, exciting, and engrossing as it may be, ultimately feels like something that's already been made and already been seen. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of Da Vinci's Demons features standout video and audio. Supplements are few and disappointing outside of the handful of commentary tracks. Recommended to fans of modern adult-oriented television while recommended as a rental to newcomers.
Da Vinci's Demons: Other Seasons
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Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway - Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season - August 26, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Anchor Bay Entertainment are offering three members a chance to win a copy of Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete First Season. Directed by David S. Goyer (co-writer of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy and Zack Snyder's Man of Steel) and starring ...
• Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete Season One Blu-ray - June 10, 2013
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment will release on Blu-ray Da Vinci's Demons: The Complete Season One. Directed by David S. Goyer (co-Writer The Dark Knight Rises Trilogy and Man of Steel) and starring Tom Riley, Laura Haddock, Elliot Cowan, Lara Pulver, Ian Pirie, ...
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