- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2006

‘Rome’ on DVD

One of HBO’s most critically acclaimed series made its DVD debut yesterday. “Rome: The Complete First Season” is now available in a lavish six-disc set.

The first season of the brutal and bloody series, which shows how the Roman Republic became the Roman Empire, spans the eight years from 52 B.C. to 44 B.C. As the series begins, Gaius Julius Caesar (Ciaran Hinds) is making his way back to Rome after eight years of war and the conquest of Gaul. Despite the general’s victories, trouble awaits him back in the great city. His old friend and leader of the Senate, Pompey Magnus (Kenneth Cranham), has been turned against him by the ruling class, who feel threatened by Caesar’s return.

Kevin McKidd is Lucius Vorenus, and Ray Stevenson is Titus Pullo, two very different soldiers who are friends nonetheless.

Stealing the show is Polly Walker, who was nominated for a best-actress Golden Globe as Atia, Caesar’s self-serving niece and one of TV’s best villains.

We all know how this story ends, but you’ve never seen Roman history quite this way before; the Golden Globe nominee for best drama is not for the squeamish or the prudish.

The HBO-BBC production is sumptuous. The Italian sets make up the largest standing set in the world. These first 12 episodes cost $100 million to make.

Indeed, the show was so expensive to produce that executives apparently have decided its second season will be its last. That season is slated to premiere in January 2007 on HBO. Until then, fans can enjoy the impressive extras on this new DVD set, which include shot-by-shot looks at how the show is made, actor commentaries, and a character guide to help viewers figure out all the twisted relationships.

Food TV’s Charm City

Baltimore chef Duff Goldman makes his Food Network prime-time premiere tomorrow night.

The channel’s new series “Ace of Cakes” airs Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. It chronicles the adventures of Mr. Goldman, a cake decorator, rock musician, power-tool aficionado and owner of Baltimore’s Charm City Cakes. Mr. Goldman and his creative team of pastry experts create everything from a 3-foot buttercream sculpture of Elvis and a seven-tier Cat-in-the-Hat-themed wedding cake to a massive edible replica of Wrigley Field.

Reality dominates TV

Reality shows dominated the ratings during another slow week on television.

Citing data from Nielsen Media Research, Associated Press reports that six shows in the top 20 last week were competitions among people looking for a big break: “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Hell’s Kitchen” and two entries each of “America’s Got Talent” and “Last Comic Standing.”

Three editions of “Big Brother 7” made the Nielsen’s top 30.

CBS’ strong rerun lineup gave the network yet another comfortable victory. The Eye Network averaged 7.3 million viewers in prime time last week. NBC averaged 6.6 million, ABC had 5.46 million, Fox had 5.45 million, UPN had 2 million and the WB had 1.8 million.

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision had 3.2 million, Telemundo had 820,000 and TeleFutura had an average of 460,000 viewers.

NBC’s “Nightly News” won the evening-news ratings race, averaging 8.1 million viewers. ABC’s “World News” had 7.6 million viewers, and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.9 million.

For the week of Aug. 7 to 13, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships: “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 11.42 million; “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 10.4 million; “So You Think You Can Dance” (Wednesday), Fox, 10.11 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 9.76 million; “America’s Got Talent,” NBC, 9.67 million.

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance from staff and wire reports.

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