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DVD Review

DVD cover

Medici: Masters of Florence
Season One


Starring: Richard Madden, Dustin Hoffman, Stuart Martin, Annabel Scholey, Guido Caprino, Alessandro Sperduti and Ken Bones
Distributor: Acorn Media UK
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 11 December 2017

Born in to the powerful Medici banking family in 1389 Florence, Cosimo De Medici would grow to be one of the most powerful and influential men in Italy. But power comes with a price, both personal and political, when his father, Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, belittles his artistic temperament and forces him into a marriage with a noble house. Forced to take on the Medici banking business, Cosimo becomes a hostage to his own inheritance…

Medici: Masters of Florence Season One (2016. 8 eps. 53 min. approx) is an Italian/British historical drama created by Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files, The Man in the High Castle) and Nicholas Meyer (The Day After, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan). The first season is presented on a two disc DVD set.

The first series starts with a mystery, the apparent poisoning of Giovaani (Dustin Hoffman) supposedly dispatched in the same way Emperor Augustus was. At this point Cosimo (Richard Madden) is thrust into the position of power, a power he never wanted nor craved, unlike his brother Lorenzo (Stuart Martin).

The story takes place in two time frames, the show's present and a period roughly twenty years in the past. Like the Godfather II (1974) it allows us to see how the young and artistically minded Cosimo is turned into a powerful patriarch, wielding influence from the shadows. His artistic leanings are in line with historical fact, the real Cosimo remained a great patron of the arts and the peace that his families influence created paved the way for the Italian renaissance.

In the show, the older Cosimo, is aided, somewhat, by his Brother Lorenzo, though you get the feeling that Lorenzo is not impressed that he was passed over by their father. Because of his innate leanings towards a sensitive nature, Cosimo’s muscle is provided by his friend, Marco Bello (Guido Caprino) whose often violent methods of investigating Giovaani’s possible murder.

He has an uneasy alliance with his wife, Contessina de' Medici (Annabel Scholey), there are children, but no love. Even though this was an arranged marriage, Contessina is treated less like a wife and more like a concubine. From no fault of her own she is the recipient of Cosimo's anger at his father for disposing of the one woman he had loved, all because she was of peasant stock.

Television can make for some strange juxtapositions and it turns out that Contessina’s father is played by David Bradley. Given that Madden played Robb Stark it must have felt strange to play opposite Bradley after he had played Walder Frey, which should have been enough to know that this was not going to be a happy marriage, even if they make it past the marriage feast.

The show is a lavish affair with good production values; even the CGI is up to snuff. The political intrigues and changing Medici fortunes are enough to keep the audience interested. Add in the good acting and the occasional nudity and you have the perfect recipe for another period sex romp.

The first season comes with a few extras. The Making of Medici: Masters of Florence (23 min, 36 sec) is made up of thirteen vignettes covering differing aspects of the show. Set Designing (6 min, 2 sec) is self-explanatory and is made up of three vignettes. The Look of the Century (13 min, 6 sec) is a six-vignette piece and lastly, we have a Picture Gallery. The set comes with two English audio tracks, DD 5. 1 and LPCN 2.0.

So, a pretty good show, it was renewed for a second season, and a set bounteous with extras.


Charles Packer

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