Review of "Marco Polo" on Starz From The TV MegaSite

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Marco Polo poster

"Marco Polo" review by Sundi 12/11/14
Airs on Netflix

Just so you know, I usually trust anything that Netflix offers. They deliver quality TV. Such is (sorta) the case with the new epic drama, Marco Polo. While in the long run, Marco Polo really delivers on its potential, it takes a while to get to it, building slowly through the first three episodes. I’m only about half way through the series, but I am liking it more than I am hating it, so if you start it, stick with it. .

Some critics have characterized it as boring and even slow, and it really kind of is, at first. But once you get over the lag of the exposition of the first few episodes, it starts to take off. What adds to slow pace are all the old-world, Asian politics to sort out. That gets confusing, and Marco Polo doesn’t do as good a job as History’s Vikings did with helping us understand who hates who and why.

The premise of the show surrounds a young Marco Polo on an expedition with his estranged father through the lucrative and treacherous Silk Road. This is a trade route that runs through the most valuable regions of the world and is overseen by the tyrant Kublai Khan. At this point in history, Khan’s empire is the largest to the known world, and only the Chinese Song Dynasty have been able to resist his hordes.

Marco has been deposited in the court of Khan as collateral for use of the Silk Road, and the events leading up to his arrival in Khan’s court are told in flashbacks throughout the first episode. There are a lot of moving parts in this series, as with any good epic, period drama, but the chaos starts to come together around episode 4.

There is quite of bit historical input in this series, but I always take that with a grain of salt. What I am taking most seriously is the general beauty of the series. It cost 90 million dollars to shoot this film, and it looks like every penny. If you’re bored, at least you’ll have the gorgeous scenery and immaculate costumes to feast your eyes upon.

I mentioned History’s Vikings above because Marco Polo feels a lot like that, with a little Game of Thrones thrown in for good measure. If you don’t mind complicated historic backstories, gratuitous sex and gore, and ubiquitous British accents (even on the Asian actors) then this show is worth checking out. I like it enough to finish all ten episodes.

What do you think?  Tweet me @sroseholt.

For more of my thoughts and opinions about the shows I watch, visit my blog at Entertainment Weekly’s The Community

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Page updated 12/28/14

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