Prequels today are all the rage. Personally, I blame George Lucas for the modern rise of this trend, but you may see things differently. Regardless, in addition to the origin stories for our favorite scruffy nerf-herders, would-be Übermensches and socially-conscious arrow slingers, Starz is going historical and finally giving us the Leonardi Da Vinci coming of age story we didn’t know we wanted. I give you Da Vinci’s Demons!
Makes you wonder if the demons have a code or something...
You can check out the first trailer for the show here. From the official description:
Starring Tom Riley ("Monroe," I Want Candy), as the title character, "Da Vinci's Demons" is a historical fantasy, following the ‘untold' story of the world's greatest genius during his turbulent youth in Renaissance Florence. Brilliant and passionate, the twenty-five year old Leonardo Da Vinci is an artist, inventor, swordsman, lover, dreamer and idealist. As a free thinker, with intellect and talents that are almost superhuman, he struggles to live within the confines of his own reality and time. He begins to not only see the future, but invent it.
I confess I’m a little ambivalent about this.
Pro: I love history, so anything that gets people more interested in a chapter of history, especially for someone like Da Vinci who, despite being well-known, isn’t really someone most people know anything about, is gravy in my book. Also, the series is by David S. Goyer, who recently wrote a couple of movies that you may have heard about and which I think are all uniformly incredible. Goyer is a master at understanding how to employ action and character in a way that supports multiple deeper themes. Given how lush Da Vinci’s life and work was, the potential here in the hands of such a capable writer could be amazing. Also, judging by the preview the thing looks bloody incredible. The production values are high, the visuals are stunning, the whole thing just looks beautiful.
Con: Really, Starz? I know it’s Hollywood, but was “Sexy Leo Da Vinci” really a thing that you had to resort to in order to get this thing greenlit? Da Vinci’s life is fascinating and there are plenty of opportunities to play with the political and social intrigues that he was really involved in without skirting toward the Twilight audience. As a cable network, you can count on a viewership that’s going to be more discriminating. Also, given that Da Vinci lived a somewhat notoriously celibate life, possibly because he may have been gay, this seems like a stretch.
The early Virtuvian Man sketch looked a little different, apparently.
Another potential concern, one that could outweigh the slick visual design, is the production team which is the same that produced Torchwood: Miracle Day, another show that looked great but had some unfortunate missteps that ended up hurting the final package. Hopefully, that team has picked up a few lessons since their inaugural outing.
Finally, why refer to this as a historical fantasy? History is pretty fantastic (and fantastical) when you actually look at the details. It doesn’t need magic realism in order to dress it up. Of course, I’m also the guy who liked Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, so maybe I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth here. This also may be the least concern, since the show descriptions are being more than a little coy about how much fantasy this thing actually is.
Da Vinci’s Demons will air on Starz sometime in 2013.