Da Vinci’s Demons is an American television show that follows the fictionalised life of arguably the world’s most famous inventor, Leonard Da Vinci, only with out his top off (well, most of the time anyway). I suppose you could say it is ‘real history’ to Da Vinci in the same way that ‘real history’ is to the critically acclaimed drama series Vikings; I like to call it fantasy history.
For a while now people have been interested in period pieces that are not directly out of a BBC documentary, you know, ‘real’. It’s far more enjoyable to see what was happening a few hundred or thousand years ago when you have a protagonist to follow, even better when you throw elements of Game of Thrones and Romans into the mix because swearing, boobs and blood maketh man.
Coming from the mind of David S. Goyer, the man who penned The Dark Knight Trilogy and Man of Steel, the show revolves around Da Vinci and his relations with the Catholic Church (not good) and the Medici and Pazzi families in Italy (sometimes good, mostly bad). It follows his life as a young inventor, drug addict, womaniser and all round playful scoundrel. Da Vinci learns of a secret sect known as the Sons of Mithras, who help him in unlocking his full potential by setting him on a quest for the mythical Book of Leaves, an ancient tome that contains the type of great knowledge men would kill for.
One of the appealing things about the show is it’s clever script writing. The relationships are always evolving as are the characters, keeping you hooked week after week as allegiances shift and tensions rise, drop and often turn over on themselves. Da Vinci’s ability to invent, wonderfully depicted in faux-pencil drawings and usually preceded by copious amounts of opium, reminds me much of the same way that Dr House would come to the realisation of a problem (usually preceded by bashing his foot) and the director’s visualisation of that is not only quite beautiful but borderline magical. This adds a certain air of fantasy to the show and in turn stops its rather heavy plot from overcoming the viewer. And heavy plot is what you will get, I mean, the Vatican is involved with subduing Florence (due to the latter’s reputation as a den of iniquity and independence).
Tom Riley plays the troubled genius and does a superb job at convincing us he is brilliant, mad and completely fearless. He also just happens to be some hot totty, if you like that kind of thing. Opposite him is the lovely Laura haddock, his love interest and also mistress of Elliot Cowan’s Lorenzo de’ Medici, head of House Medici and all round Big Boss guy. Yeah, that shouldn’t end in tears. Surrounding this love triangle is a crowd of intriguing and layered characters, none more so than Blake Ritson’s Count Girolamo Riario, the closest thing Da Vinci has to a rival both mentally and in martial aspects. Also the possessor of the coolest but hardest to imitate ghostly whisper of a voice you have ever heard.
During the show Goyer plays around with facts, spinning simple real life events into massive globe spanning conspiracies and swashbuckling adventures for Da Vinci and co, even delving into the supernatural from time to time. Yes this show’s “history” is all bollocks, but its briskly paced and highly entertaining bollocks that gets a hearty recommendation from me! And besides, swords, ships, and secrets!
Season 1: 8 Episodes
Season 2: 10 Episodes
Season 3: 10 Episodes (due 2015)
Last Updated: June 10, 2014