The Borgias: The First Season Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1:78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish 2.0 Stereo
- Subtitles: English SDH, English
- Region: A (B? C?)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Run Time: 747 Mins.
- Discs: 3 (3 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: December 27th, 2011
- List Price: $65.99
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Showtime’s The Borgias tells the story of Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons), a Spanish cardinal to Pope Innocent VIII. Upon the pope’s death, Borgia seeks to use his money, power, and influence to elevate himself and his family to the papacy of Rome.
Once elected Pope by the ever-corruptible College of Cardinals, now Alexander Sextus (VI) proceeds to secure his reign against rivals and ensure his family’s installation into powerful positions throughout Roman society. Son Juan is made the Gonfalonier of the Papal Armies, effectively the military commander of Rome. The rest of the family moves into new estates befitting of their new status. Shortly into his reign, plots are revealed, culminating in an attempt to poison his Holiness.
Following this disaster, Alexander seeks new allies. His son Cesare (Francois Arnaud), previously a high ranking Vatican official, is quickly appointed cardinal in order to secure Borgia’s power by ensuring a majority of the College of Cardinals favors the new pope. And this is merely the beginning of the intrigue that will dominate the rest of the season.
Highlights include discussions about simony (the buying and selling of church titles) Jesus and the Romans, and Cesare’s interest in a married woman. There is also the matter of daughter Lucrezia’s marriage to the Italian Sforza family for a political alliance and the impressive skills of a hidden assassin named Micheletto (you’ll never think of a cheese cutter in the same way). As all this occurs, foreign powers are energized for Italian conquest at the behest of the Pope’s rivals, with the King of France being a serious threat for the duration.
The acting is solid, with Mr. Irons giving a more subtle performance that scandal and intrigue might suggest. Despite being a rather flawed man, we can see that he cares for his family and for his church, quite the opposite of what one might expect from a person who essentially buys his way to the Throne of St. Peter’s.
Francois Arnaud is a powerful actor as well in Cesare, and I look forward to seeing more of his work. His character serves as something of a foil to his father, keeping his ambition in check and his person aware of plots against Alexander. Ambitious himself, Cesare is a compelling watch. One moment he is struggling with the idea of being a cardinal at such a young age, only to readily abuse his new authority at the first opportunity. This dichotomy gives his character a wide range for the audience to appreciate.
The Borgias is a compelling watch in this all-too-brief 1st season, meant mostly to establish its characters. Here’s hoping that its strengths will continue through Season 2 and beyond. Fans will be there to watch at its April premiere and hopefully years into the future.
The 1:78:1 framed, AVC/MPEG-4 encoded disc features a splendid transfer. The vistas of Rome and the splendor of the Renaissance period shine throughout, beautifully presented with full clarity and vision. There are also the dark corridors of the Vatican and concealing tunnels in which all manner of misdeed is glimpsed, serving as a fine contrast to the above. There is no apparent artifacting or poor color saturation. Truly, an exemplary video presentation by Paramount.
This First Season of The Borgias is presented with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track, which is excellent. Dialogue is well reproduced, clear and without grain, be it in English or occasional bits in French, Latin, and so on. Atmosphere isn’t the kind of top notch, A-level Hollywood action packed atmosphere. Rather it’s the kind of subtle aural experience that makes this TrueHD track one of the better TV mixes. LFE is deep and dominate at times, offering up some solid bass that brings home the tension and emotion of the series. The main title is a Gregorian sounding chant that punctuates the dramatic imagery, especially at higher volumes. Trevor Morris, the series musician, has developed the kind of mix that captures the essence of the Roman 1490s setting. All in all, this is a solid, satisfying track Paramount has provided us.
There are no physical extras present here, but there are BD-Live supplements:
- Casting of Cesare
- Episode 2 of Dexter Season Six
- Episodes 1 and 2 of Gigolos
- Episodes 1 and 2 of Californication Season Four
The Definitive Word
Additional Screen Captures
Tags: AVC/MPEG-4, Blu-ray, Crime, David Oakes, Derek Jacobi, Docudrama, Dolby TrueHD, Drama, Francois Arnaud, Historical Fiction, Hoanne Whalley, Holliday Grainger, Jeremy Irons, Lotte Verbeek, Paramount, Paramount Home Entertainment, Sean Harris, Simon McBurney