Reason #1 I'm looking forward to 2007. I was skeptical at first about a lavish series about the lives, loves and political maneuvering of Rome's plebeians and patricians, culminating in Caesar's assassination in the Senate. And performed by stiff-upper-lipped Brits!?! But after the first couple of episodes, I was hooked. You could argue that there's a temperamental fit between the British character and the sort of hidebound, cultivated machismo--relieved by bursts of carnality and sadism--that one associates with the ancient Romans. They are the folks who perfected the foundations for our legal and political systems, and they also excelled in staging the most gruesome public bloodsports imaginable.
The writing, acting, and design for Season 1 were spectacular. It didn't hurt that Episode 11 featured one of the most vicious gladiatorial battles ever committed to film. Not as low-budget BBC campy as I, Claudius, and not as as intellectually hollow as Ridley Scott's Gladiator, Rome was a history lesson wrapped in opulent pageantry, served up with a thick pungent sauce of sex, betrayal and violence. After this and Deadwood, dare I dream that HBO might underwrite another historical serial: Elizabethan London?
UPDATE: This HBO promo vid for Rome Season 2 was posted on YouTube a month ago. Enjoy.