Da Vinci’s Demons

Leo head goodI’m a bit divided over which lingering memory stays with me more from Da Vinci’s Demons: the sight of Hugh Bonneville’s bare buttocks (seriously) or the fact that this grandiose drama turns Leonardo Da Vinci from being widely perceived as gay, to straight.

David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Rises, Dark City, Batman Begins, Flashforward) takes an historical figure and shapes him as a matinee idol in this brash new FX drama. If anything this bears a great deal of influence from Showtime’s The Tudors and Jonathan Rhys Meyer’s rock star Henry VIII.

Da Vinci’s Demons is a rollicking, historical fiction, fusing the inventory skills of its lead character with political drama, religion, romance and action. He swordfights two men at the same time, invents mechanics that fly and draws freehand with the flourish of a hand.

He is at odds with his father, is drawn to alluring women, and is considered a troublemaker by authorities. He also has a backstory of trying to remember the face of his mother. But more than anything, this Leo is a debonair action hero, portrayed by Tom Riley (pictured, left) complete with a buff chest.

“I see things as they are. Not as they might be,” he insists.

There’s money on the screen here, and more than a bit of CGI, with elaborate sets and renaissance costumes. Produced by Goyer and Julie Gardner (Doctor Who) and Jane Tranter (Torchwood), it’s a big pitch to establishing a new franchise.

Expect to see masquerade balls, sex scenes, banquets and duels.

The first episode takes a while to get going, and centres mostly around Da Vinci’s desire to be employed as a military engineer for statesman Lorenzo Medici (Elliot Cowan). His chief invention is a multi-cannon gun, but it has never been tested.

Da Vinci is also dabbling with death by having a tryst with Medici’s semi-naked mistress Lucrezia Donati (Laura Haddock). Any suggestion that he was having affairs with his male pupils is overlooked here, in this most Hollywood of period adventures.

The show’s most impressive character is the villainous Count Girolamo Riario (Blake Ritson) who gets all the best scenes as Da Vinci’s nemesis. Ritson’s contained performance as the resident bad guy is enjoyable stuff. By the second episode the two men have been nicely set-up as broad personifications of good vs evil.

Goyer directs this as a sexed-up tale, bringing contemporary narrative concepts to a classical canvas. Like most of his works there is a dark undertone throughout, but so far it is more about style than substance.

Da Vinci’s Demons doesn’t look like knocking off Game of Thrones anytime soon but it has a sense of fun that may yet surprise, so long as historical facts aren’t your thang.

Da Vinci’s Demons premieres Tuesday 7.30pm on FX.


  1. seriouslysquare

    straight?? hmm I think that could change… homosexuality, in fact sexuality does define you in this series.

    I am looking forward to seeing where the series goes, whether it will keep my interest is another thing, it seemed some what complicated at the start with the story jumping around, there was a sense of not knowing what was actually happening. the guy that was killed at the start, why? I need to re-watch it and pay closer attention.

    by the end things weren’t any less complicated but you had a brief understanding as to what was happening.

    the Da Vinci character him self is well done, but a little all over the place. from sketching a naked chick to making a flying machine/kite/hand-glider to making a robotic? pigeon. then towards the end he had sex with the chick he had been drooling over the entire episode, even though it seemed like he was in-love with her…

    I can’t wait to see what the vatican has to say.. lol.

  2. I watched the pilot and liked it, can’t wait for the 2nd ep. The style kinda reminds me of Game of Thrones or The Borgias with the usual amounts of nudity for a cable show.

    Love the theme music also.

  3. Julie Gardner gets the Doctor Who credit and Jane Tranter the Torchwood credit but in actual fact they were both involved in both shows.

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