Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pilot Review: Suburra: Blood on Rome

Suburra: Blood on Rome (Netflix)
Premiered October 6

I’ve seen for a while now that Netflix has been releasing foreign-language series, some available just outside of the United States in the countries where the language is spoken and others watchable by all subscribers. Some of these are coproductions and others are full originals, which is the case of this latest entry, the first Italian series created by Netflix. While I worry that it’s way too much to watch every single show made by Netflix (I already skip any children’s programming on Amazon and anything that premieres on Freeform), I thought this had to be worth a shot, especially given my affinity for the mostly Spanish-language “Narcos.” I’m sure that everyone who watches this show will compare it to that one. It is a different beast since the element of law enforcement and the adaptation of real historical events isn’t all that similar, but I can understand why people would think of them together. This show has a distinctly Italian look and feel to it, reminiscent of another TV prequel to a popular Italian film that started a few years ago, “Gomorrah.” The first scene was certainly wild – unnecessarily so in my mind – and this show isn’t too worried about featuring casual violence, foregoing guns and other weapons and just having characters use fits to pummel each other. By the end of episode one, I don’t feel that I could easily distinguish between the rival organized crime organizations and any of their players, but this show does have a certain visual and tonal appeal.

How will it work as a series? The priest is going to be blackmailed if he even manages to recover enough from whatever he just endured and has left him near-dead, and everything is only going to get worse as people are deemed missing and deals go south. There’s no shortage of ways all this could go, and plenty of material here.
How long will it last? I can’t find much in the way of reviews, and Netflix doesn’t do ratings data, but I think that expanding into a new country with a show that they can proudly call their own is an enterprise they’ll want to see through, with a likely renewal coming soon as long as viewership seems to be somewhere around what they want.

Pilot grade: B

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