Power and the pas­sion

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN

A DRAMA se­ries about a pope might not sound like riv­et­ing tele­vi­sion but when that pon­tiff is Pope Alexan­der VI, it’s a true story with more sex, vi­o­lence and in­trigue than any­thing a writer could make up.

Imag­ine The Tu­dors set in the Vat­i­can you will have some idea of what this out­stand­ing se­ries is like.

Sea­son two of The Bor­gias be­gins on Thurs­day on Aus­tar chan­nel W ( 115) and the de­prav­ity and nepo­tism of sea­son one was only an ap­pe­tiser for what is to come.

The Bor­gias is the story of Ro­drigo Bor­gia ( Jeremy Irons), a car­di­nal who used all man­ner of ma­nip­u­la­tions and trick­ery to get him­self elected Pope Alexan­der VI in the late 15th cen­tury.

While his­tory has judged him to have been a fairly ef­fec­tive leader, he is bet­ter known for his af­fairs with mul­ti­ple mis­tresses and the scan­dal of be­ing a pope with chil­dren of his own.

Sea­son one charted Bor­gia’s rise from car­di­nal to the pa­pacy. Irons’ por­trayal of the pope is mag­nif­i­cent, a twisted, in­ti­mate por­trait of a man who is more con­cerned with main­tain­ing his po­si­tion of power than with ac­tu­ally try­ing to do any good with it, and who feels jus­ti­fied em­ploy­ing any means to stay at the top.

As mer­ci­less and self- serv­ing as Bor­gia is, you can’t help feel­ing just a lit­tle sorry for the guy as he tries to keep his mitre while also man­ag­ing his priv­i­leged, bick­er­ing, messedup fam­ily in the back­ground.

His am­bi­tious and ruth­less el­dest son Ce­sare ( Fran­cois Ar­naud) is still locked in a bit­ter ri­valry with his younger brother and mil­i­tary leader Juan ( David Oakes).

Mean­while, Ce­sare must deal with the ru­mours that he is in­volved in an in­ces­tu­ous re­la­tion­ship with his sis­ter Lu­crezia ( Hol­l­i­day Grainger).

And then there is the pope’s rather un­saintly love life.

As sea­son two be­gins, the war with France seems to have ended, with the French king hap­pily oc­cu­py­ing Naples and the pope throws a cel­e­bra­tion.

But be­hind the benev­o­lence, Bor­gia swears re­venge against ev­ery­one who be­trayed him in the events lead­ing up to the in­va­sion, and sets his eyes on a new mis­tress.

Episode one of the lat­est sea­son screened in the US on April 8, so W has cer­tainly brought the new sea­son to Aus­tralian screens quickly.

Mean­while, on Show­case ( 403) sea­son two of the edgy Scot­tish se­ries Lip Ser­vice be­gins tonight ( May 13).

Packed with ir­rev­er­ent hu­mour and sex­ual pas­sion, Lip Ser­vice fol­lows a group of young friends as they search for love and hap­pi­ness.

Cat ( Laura Fraser) and Sam ( Heather Pearce) re­turn to Glas­gow af­ter a loved- up month in South Amer­ica.

But Cat’s feel­ings for her first love, Frankie ( Ruta Ged­mintas) are still sim­mer­ing be­neath the sur­face and there is an­other bomb­shell about to ex­plode within the close group of friends.

It’s a big week of qual­ity drama for Aus­tar sub­scribers, who should revel in the op­por­tu­nity to es­cape Masterchef and The Voice.

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