So, the last episode of this season’s Game of Thrones just ended, and you still can’t believe what happened?
Are you starting to have the withdrawal shakes? Or worse, waking up in a cold sweat trying to rid that last scene out of your mind? You know that it’s going to be another long year or so until the show comes back, so now is the time to look at some shows that you may have overlooked in the past or just never heard of. If you are in need of period pieces with high drama, sword and sandals or just plain old blood, guts, and @ss, see the suggestions below. Also don’t be surprised to see that, as you check out these series, some of the same actors and actresses appear across different shows listed below. Some may have also popped up on Game of Thrones in varying roles as well!
What is it: Rome was one of the early shows that set the bar for pseudo-historical drama. Set in Rome (duh!), it’s the story of two commoners, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, as they serve as soldiers in service to Julius Caesar. We also see the rise of Octavian as he battles Mark Antony. The show was originally planned for 5 seasons, but due to the expensive budget, it only lasted 2. Just imagine if it had been given the gravitas that Game of Thrones was given, and what a show it could have been.
What is it: For fans of 300 and Gladiator, this is one of the more underrated shows around. This show gives us the rise and fall of Spartacus as he becomes a gladiator, escapes captivity, and becomes a rebel of Rome. You may not know it, but it has a huge cult following. The show had a good start until its star (Andy Whitfield) passed away, leading to a prequel that aired until a new actor (Liam McIntyre) to play Spartacus could be found. If you are near the Washington DC Metro Area, or if you are big enough fan that you want to travel, check out SpartaCon in August this year.
What is it: Pillars of the Earth and its sequel, World Without End, are based upon the novels of Ken Follett. Set (approximately) in 12th century England, Pillars tells the story of Tom Builder as he attempts to build a cathedral in the town of Kingsbridge. The sequel, World Without End, is set 157 years later at the start of the Hundred Years War and the rise of the Black Plague. It’s a very good show with high production value.
Where to find it: Amazon Prime
What is it: For Vikings fans, this is a telling of Uhtred, a young Viking warrior as he is forced to choose between his people and the English. Based upon a series of novels called ‘The Saxon Stories’ this show interweaves fiction and fact in bringing to light King Alfred the Great as he tries to unite England into one kingdom. Season one is in the can and season 2 will be on BBC America in the fall. It’s really worth the look.
What is it: The Tudors, was THE show before Game of Thrones. Fans will like it because just like Game of Thrones, it’s all about politics, scheming and sex. Lots of sex. You’ll find many recognizable faces here, including some you may have seen popping up on Game of Thrones. With four seasons available for streaming, it’s sure to keep you busy for awhile.
What is it: What it lacks in depth in comparison to Game of Thrones, it makes up for its whimsical nature. Da Vinci’s Demons is a highly fictionalized account of Leonardo Da Vinci’s early years in Italy. Some of the show’s story lines take on a MacGyver-esque turn as Da Vinci must create an invention that will get him through whatever mishap comes along his way.
What is it: The Lannisters have nothing on the Borgias. The Borgias actually debuted 2 weeks before Game of Thrones. It also has everything needed for comparison: incestuous lovers, lots of cheating, murder, torture, bribery and more. Worse, is that these were real life historical figures and even though Jeremy Irons was criticized for not ‘looking like’ the real pope, his depiction of the character leaves little room for sympathy. It’s a shame that it didn’t make it 5 seasons as, like the aforementioned Rome, it was deemed too expensive to produce.
So there you have it. There are a few shows that we omitted such as Vikings and a few others, but this list will hopefully point out a few shows that some may have missed during their original run. It’s going to be a long year before we get to go back to Westeros, so maybe these suggestions will help. But, when all else fails…just watch Game of Thrones from the beginning or check out the game by Telltale.