Da Vinci’s Demons: The Complete First Season Blu-ray ReviewOctober 16, 2013
STARZ’ Da Vinci’s Demons is a historical drama, a gritty, re-imagined take on the life of famed inventor Leonardo da Vinci. Similar to other series such as Spartacus and The Borgias, the show ups the violence, sex and action while embellishing or completely rewriting history to create a compelling show to captivate a modern audience. While it may play fast and loose with the minutia of the history books, Da Vinci’s Demons is definitely worth watching, and it looks and sounds fantastic in its Blu-ray release.
Young inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci (Tom Riley) toils away relentlessly on his projects, determined to win some amount of respect and adoration for his ideas. With the help of his friends Nico (Eros Vlahos) and Zoroaster (Greg Chillin), he manages to bring some of his forward-thinking inventions to life – which leaves the townspeople of Florence both in awe and fear. Soon enough, Leonardo manages to catch the eye of influential ruler Lorenzo de’ Medici (Elliot Cowan), who gives him a stipend to begin work on weaponry to defend their homeland. Meanwhile, Leonardo’s gaze wanders towards Lorenzo’s mistress Lucrezia (Laura Haddock), while trying to solve the mystery of the Book of Leaves, a mythical tome that promises vast knowledge. His hunt for the book will see him siding with the Medicis and taking up arms against the church of Rome and Pope Sixtus IV (James Faulkner). The Pope’s nephew and right-hand man Count Riario (Blake Ritson) will stop at nothing to keep da Vinci from obtaining the ancient tome.
Da Vinci’s Demons features gorgeous scenery, some incredible landscapes, and some of the best costume designs you’ll find on TV. The show manages to appeal to those that aren’t into period pieces, layering on plenty of political intrigue, shady dealings, sexuality, and even a bit of the supernatural for good measure. Some people might have a bit of a problem with Leonardo da Vinci walking around with a rock star haircut and leather jacket, but it works for the show and you quickly get used to it. There’s a definite Assassin’s Creed II vibe here. There’s even mention of the protagonist of the game, Ezio Auditore – also from Florence – on one of the audio commentaries. The visuals are all perfectly preserved and presented on this 1080p HD transfer, utilizing the show’s original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The image is crystal clear, sharp, and vibrant, and the threads of every costume are rendered in great detail. The sound is just as good, with dialogue and sound effects coming through with near-perfect clarity in the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound mix.
As for special features, the set has a fair amount of them. There are four audio commentaries featuring different actors and producers. “Mastering Da Vinci” interviews composer Bear McCreary on his thought process behind constructing the show’s catchy theme song – which, as it turns out, is meant to be identical when played in reverse. “Constructing Da Vinci” shows the effort that was put into turning an abandoned Ford factory into Renaissance-era Florence, and it must be said that the set designers did an incredible job. “Dressing Da Vinci” talks about the myriad costumes that were created for the show, and the color-coding that was employed to keep track of the various factions in Italy. “Worldwide Fanfare” sees the cast and producer David Goyer visiting both Comic-Con and Florence, Italy for the show’s premiere. There’s also a collection of eight deleted scenes and a promo for the second screen app called Citizens of Florence.
Overall, Da Vinci’s Demons is a fun twist on historical events, with interesting characters played by fine actors. It may lose a bit of focus throughout the season, and the show seems unable to commit to a certain genre, but it’s still a well-produced, intriguing medieval drama. History buffs will either love it or hate it, but give it a shot – the show may surprise you.