Starz has been carving out a little niche for itself with original programming the past few years. Outlander, Flesh and Bone, and Black Sails are among the more well known and critically praised series they offer. Their latest home video release is the closing chapter to a series that presents a somewhat fantastical version of the life of one of the most brilliant and talented figures in our history, Leonardo da Vinci.
Based on true events, albeit heavily fictionalized, the show looks at the life of da Vinci in Renaissance Italy working for the Medici family. His position throws him deep into Italian politics, and his inventions lead to an appointment as military engineer in an effort to help protect the city of Milan. Throughout his work, he continues to struggle with his relationship with an estranged father and his life is further complicated by the Sons of Mithras, a cult that is interested in how da Vinci will affect the future.
With such a synopsis it sounds a little crazy, but the show blends these elements together into a rather interesting mix. As a period piece, its look at Renaissance Italy, its people, and politics is fascinating. Da Vinci himself is a catalyst for looking at the clash between science and faith at a time when religion dominated people’s lives. His inventions and discoveries are perceived as heresy by many. Through this and other narrative devices, the show also looks at the weight of genius.
These elements offer a rich vein of ideas for the show to tap into, and it succeeds at times, but often doesn’t commit fully enough. With a large cast and multiple plotlines all interweaving with each other, the show sometimes only examines ideas in a way that skims the surface. Season three takes the ideas of challenging the establishment further with a more direct feel embracing more action driven stories stemming from the ramifications of his inventions being misused and used against him. His position as military engineer and adviser coming to the fore. It’s more of a bombastic wrap-up to the show than some of the headier earlier episodes.
The show was conceived by David S. Goyer, well known from his work on Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, the Blade trilogy, and is involved with much of the current DC film universe exploits. Starz collaborated with BBC Worldwide on the venture, and the show is actually filmed in parts of Wales. As such you’d expect handsome period detail and production design, and the show doesn’t disappoint. There’s even a score by the uber talented Bear McCreary to appreciate.
The image quality on the transfer is fantastic; deep colors, textures, and detail are exceptional. It’s one of the best looking TV releases on Blu-ray I’ve seen in a long time. Sadly the release comes with no extras.
Da Vinci’s Demons is a intriguing show, offering much to appreciate, notably great production values, a fantastic score, and a talented cast. But it never fully explores the richness of the place and people it has created. Despite this the show remains enjoyable and this release, no extras aside, is a quality one showcasing many of the positive attributes of the series.
Da Vinci’s Demons is released on January 26th, 2016.