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murphyslaw
Feb 16, 2007
It never fails



So who here wants to see a show that has the polish of Vikings season 2, the occasional spectacle and indulgence of Wuxia movies, and what is apparently the production budget of a small Eastern European country's GDP, all while giving a relatively sober perspective on a period and region that has been mostly untouched on by television? Look no further, Netflix has your rear end covered!

I'm currently on episode 5 and have been thoroughly entertained so far. The spotlight of the show is far from fixated on the titular character, as the viewer is taken on a spectacular exploration into Kublai Khan's empire and its many troubles, external and internal. Intrigues, battles, and dumb sex scenes abound, as can be expected from any modern historical drama, but with what I find to be some pretty awesome filming and editing. Set, costume, and visual designs are absolutely stellar in my opinion, and the cast of characters is as diverse and exotic as befits a series that focuses on one of the largest multi-ethnic empires in the history of the world. Definitely worth anyone's time, especially if you enjoy the stuff offered by shows like Vikings and Game of Thrones.

So grab a flagon of airag, a slab of mutton, and get ready to !



Spoiler policy: none, OP is an idiot.

murphyslaw fucked around with this message at Dec 13, 2014 around 14:23

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pentyne
Nov 7, 2012


Pretty sure the spoiler policy for a Netflix show is no one has to black bar anything. That's how every Netflix show thread has been run up to this point.

murphyslaw
Feb 16, 2007
It never fails

pentyne posted:

Pretty sure the spoiler policy for a Netflix show is no one has to black bar anything. That's how every Netflix show thread has been run up to this point.

Shucks! You're right. OP amended!

Steve2911
Jan 22, 2013

Please be excited.


First episode interested me but I'm not enthralled quite yet.

I reckon I should read up some of the history though.

FELD1
Nov 4, 2009

Cat Army
2nd Battalion


Marco Polo is one of my favorite historical stories (I generally love reading anything about explorers), so I'll definitely check this out. Gratuitous sex scenes is just icing on the cake.

Kawasaki Nun
Jul 16, 2001



Uh this show is... Bad. It can't seem to figure out whether it wants to be a kung fu movie or historical drama, and doesn't have the style or depth to carry either drama. Its p.good if you don't mind bad kung fu and awful writing with lots of nude Asian ladies, but as a total package it is completely forgettable aside from some nice cinematography.

MiddleOne
Feb 17, 2011



FELD1 posted:

Marco Polo is one of my favorite historical stories (I generally love reading anything about explorers), so I'll definitely check this out. Gratuitous sex scenes is just icing on the cake.

Gratuitous sex scenes is like 50% of the tale.

DarkCrawler
Apr 6, 2009
Probation
Can't post for 6 hours!


I loved it, but you probably have to be a history buff to get a lot of gratification out of it. There are bit too many weird plot motivations and unsatisfying resolutions for it to be as stellar as the visual direction is. Some characters are great, with Polo, Kublai Khan and the Empress standing tall among them...but some are not. I could not have cared less about the love story between Polo and the Blue Princess (Christ, how can you even give her a second look with Khutulun hanging around? I'd get my rear end beaten by her any day), the whiny Prince became frustrating to me halfway through and Jia Sindao is a boring cartoon villain with zero redeeming traits. I'd still say it's way better written then 90% of stuff out there, but it's not as good as it could be.

Still, if you are even slightly interested in history you should watch it. I binged through it. And the sex scenes are indeed gratuitous. Plus how many historical shows are there where 99% of characters are non-white? Definitely hoping for a second season with better characterization.

DarkCrawler fucked around with this message at Dec 13, 2014 around 22:37

Mr.48
May 1, 2007


Watched about 7 episodes since last night and I have to say that I'm pretty impressed, production values are top-notch. Its not perfect, but between this and House of Cards, Netflix is shaping up as pretty good competition for HBO.

Astro Nut
Feb 22, 2013

Nonsensical Space Powers, Activate! Form of Friendship!

DarkCrawler posted:

I loved it, but you probably have to be a history buff to get a lot of gratification out of it. There are bit too many weird plot motivations and unsatisfying resolutions for it to be as stellar as the visual direction is. Some characters are great, with Polo, Kublai Khan and the Empress standing tall among them...but some are not. I could not have cared less about the love story between Polo and the Blue Princess (Christ, how can you even give her a second look with Khutulun hanging around? I'd get my rear end beaten by her any day), the whiny Prince became frustrating to me halfway through and Jia Sindao is a boring cartoon villain with zero redeeming traits. I'd still say it's way better written then 90% of stuff out there, but it's not as good as it could be.

Still, if you are even slightly interested in history you should watch it. I binged through it. And the sex scenes are indeed gratuitous. Plus how many historical shows are there where 99% of characters are non-white? Definitely hoping for a second season with better characterization.

That's how I'm coming to feel about it, though mixed due to the range from decent historical accuracy to outright artistic llicense. The portrayal of Kublai himself is interesting, given he wants to conquer the world (mandate from heaven and all that), but for him it means he is willing to appreciate what it may have to offer him in terms of service. Meanwhile, they decided to outright skip over most of the mess with the civil war against the Golden Horde, which feels like a missed opportunity, and a strange choice to make. Or having a figure as obscure as Bayan, and yet... making him a blind, Taoist master?

I also don't mind too much the performance of Richelmy too much, though I've seen some critics rail on about it. I kinda imagine him as having some difficulty pronouncing Mongolian, and then it fits in character. Similarly, that some of the Khans speak roughly whilst Jingam has an easy inflection feels like it could be to contrast the cultural influences... if some other parts of the cast didn't throw all that into question.

I'm still trying to get through the series so who knows how my opinion will change, but I can certainly see some entertainment value in it. At the same time, a lot of it is clearly built off the Game of Thrones bandwagon, and I really doubt that they got the full value of their money out of the final production. Seriously, 90 million dollars?

Party Plane Jones
Jul 1, 2007

BORN TO MOD
USPOL IS A FUCK
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Fun Shoe

Having seen some of the episodes you definitely can tell they put a huge chunk of change into amazing cinematography.

murphyslaw
Feb 16, 2007
It never fails

I'm not going to lie, I'm liking this mostly for its visual aspect. It is quite a messy series otherwise. But I'm not getting the feeling that the writing is bad, and if it is, it has some pretty solid moments, if ye olde witty comebacks is your thing.

DarkCrawler
Apr 6, 2009
Probation
Can't post for 6 hours!


Party Plane Jones posted:

Having seen some of the episodes you definitely can tell they put a huge chunk of change into amazing cinematography.

Yeah, it's honestly worth watching for that alone, it's easily one of the prettiest shows I've seen.

Snowy
Oct 6, 2010

A man whose blood
Is very snow-broth;
One who never feels
The wanton stings and
Motions of the sense





Fun Shoe

Sad to see the reviews for this seem to be so negative. I'm hoping the boobie quotient is high enough to make up for other flaws.

Party Plane Jones
Jul 1, 2007

BORN TO MOD
USPOL IS A FUCK
Onigami Toxx Em All 2019
I am party plane jones
410,747,864,530 PERMABANNED SHITPOSTERS





Fun Shoe

Snowy posted:

Sad to see the reviews for this seem to be so negative. I'm hoping the boobie quotient is high enough to make up for other flaws.

In the first five episodes there's easily double digit numbers of sex scenes.

SunshineDanceParty
Feb 7, 2006

That man has the largest penis I have ever seen. I actually don't even know if he has mumps, forgot to look. I was distracted - by the largest penis I have ever seen


I'd rather get a series about Ibn Battuta's travels but that's never happening. I basically have to give the series a shot even though all the reviews confirmed my worries about it.

Sunning
Sep 14, 2011
Nintendo Guru

I'm half way through but I've warmed up to like I did for Spartacus Blood and Sand. The minute by minute dialogue and some of the subplots aren't very good but cinematography, the casting, and the overarching character study of Kublai Khan makes up for it. The directors are doing their best to channel Chen Kaige. Anyone watching this in 4K?

Yudo
May 15, 2003

I create

Story wise I thought it was an okay series. I was entertained. It sucks that they had so, so much to work with and yet did so very little with it.

They did, however, a great job visually portraying the artwork and landscape of Central Asian nomadic cultures (though a lot of what we saw was Krygyz, I think), the former rarely appreciated in the west. I know little about southern China, but the sets all around were fantastic. I also liked many of the casting choices though most were not given much to work with.

If the irredeemable pile of poo poo that is "Hemlock Grove" got two seasons, so should this if for nothing else the art and cinematography.

DarkCrawler
Apr 6, 2009
Probation
Can't post for 6 hours!


Snowy posted:

Sad to see the reviews for this seem to be so negative. I'm hoping the boobie quotient is high enough to make up for other flaws.

It's nowhere close to being a BAD show, just unambitious in other areas then the cinematography/Kublai. Netflix shows tend to have a lot of focus on one area. House of Cards is sub-par whenever the Underwoods aren't chewing scenes for example.

Mr. Nix
Jun 2, 2012


I came into this show wanting to like it (fan of this period in history) and I was totally with it right up to the scene where a completely nude courtesan kills three armored soldiers with a taint-flashing roundoff and a hairpin.

That's the point where I first realized, "Oh! This is a stupid show. If I continue to watch it I should expect more stupid things to occur."

I should have been tipped off by the Matrix-style kung-fu training scenes.

DarkCrawler
Apr 6, 2009
Probation
Can't post for 6 hours!


Eh, no dumber then say Spartacus in my opinion.

MiddleOne
Feb 17, 2011



I think I'll be looking into this show in a week or 2 when I get a hold on a stable internet connection, certainly looks interesting enough.

DarkCrawler posted:

Eh, no dumber then say Spartacus in my opinion.

I will fight you.

enraged_camel
Jul 4, 2007

I posted my food for USPOL Thanksgiving!


I'm on episode 5 and so far I like it a lot. The cinematography is quite amazing and the story compelling (although a bit overwhelming at first). Some of the actors are quite talented (Marco and Kublai are both very, very good) and I like that I don't recognize anyone from any other show. It feels very... fresh.

Gawain The Blind
Apr 16, 2006

"..and then came the black crow, herald of doom, who foretold the coming of death."

Grimey Drawer

This is dumb as hell but I powered through all ten episodes in two days, and I want more. It hits all the same spots that Spartacus did, but with better production values and more kungfu.

It's even less historically accurate than Spartacus, but if you're watching it for that then you've made a horrible mistake already.

Naked kungfu is the best kungfu.



edit: I don't really understand why Marco Polo is our protagonist. Did they think we needed a European hero?

Gawain The Blind fucked around with this message at Dec 14, 2014 around 10:50

BCBUDDHA
Jul 19, 2014


on episode 7 and so far kevin spacey hasn't done something sexually that made me uncomfortable to watch. A+ Netflix

Astro Nut
Feb 22, 2013

Nonsensical Space Powers, Activate! Form of Friendship!

Gawain The Blind posted:

edit: I don't really understand why Marco Polo is our protagonist. Did they think we needed a European hero?

To likely get it funding from an American company? Yes.

Mind you, there's no indication that Fusco ever intended it to not be about Polo, as that is where the classic, non-'gently caress where did these guys come from and why are they killing us so badly' perspective on the Mongolian Empire for Europeans and their cousin nationalities comes from. And because of established notions in fiction about audience 'relatability' to a protagonist, both from corporations and general audiences, it can often be an easier sell for a show in the west if it has a 'normal' (read: white, middle class, lacking skills but has potential) audience surrogate. Orange Is the New Black's main character was, in the words of the show's creator, the 'trojan horse' in order to display the rest of the cast.

Honestly, I think they should have perhaps played up Marco's own cultural background, to both A) contrast against that of the Mongolians and B) contrast that of the likely viewer. Seriously, he's from 13th century Venice. That's more than a little removed from modern Italy, let alone Europe or the rest of western civilisation. Since part of the show's gimmick is to show a (relatively) more nuanced view of the Empire, and how in some ways it was more progressive than its counterparts of the time, it would've been nice if perhaps applied some of that to outlining how Marco just being 'white' doesn't necessarily outline his cultural perspective.

ufarn
May 30, 2009


The show doesn't really go anywhere, so it's only for you if you like the diverse cast of characters and the cinematography. It's weird that it isn't more educational - I feel like I learned more about tantric sex and praying-mantis kung fu than the Mongolian empire.

Josh Lyman
May 24, 2009




Just saw the pilot and really enjoyed it. I can definitely understand this being a much more niche show than House of Cards or Game of Thrones, but that's unfortunate. I just don't think American audiences have a palate or tolerance for Asian-centric material.

I don't really understand the Game of Thrones comparison, and the fact that people keep repeating that stinks of ethnocentrism.

The strongest part of the show is cinematography. It's as if Hannibal had five times the palette and ten times the budget.

The weakest part of the show is definitely dialogue, but it's not cringeworthy by any stretch.

It doesn't have the driving plot of House of Cards and I didn't feel compelled to watch episode 2 immediately, but that's not necessarily a problem. The show is certainly not perfect, but it's not bad, and it's a little upsetting that people are trashing it.

I think it's incredible this show even exists. $90 million on an "Asian TV show" is pretty amazing.

edit: It has an 8.5 on IMDB but 47 on Metacritic. I think that says everything.

Josh Lyman fucked around with this message at Dec 14, 2014 around 12:39

Shasta Orange Soda
Apr 24, 2007


I watched the first episode and a half. The writing is just so bad and the characters are so boring that no amount of cinematography is gonna make up for it. I kept making excuses for it and wanting to like it, but the hackneyed dialogue, the forbidden princess who the main character falls in love with at first sight and she obviously loves him too even though she's mean to him at first and aaauuuggggh are you kidding me with this, Netflix? Basically, all the bad poo poo added up real quick.

ufarn
May 30, 2009


Netflix have a pretty weird record on TV shows. They're not exactly the killer company as far as that's concerned.

The battles in Marco Polo are also incredibly weird; they make it seem as if the Mongolian army were 1,000 people.

Josh Lyman
May 24, 2009




Shasta Orange Soda posted:

I watched the first episode and a half. The writing is just so bad and the characters are so boring that no amount of cinematography is gonna make up for it. I kept making excuses for it and wanting to like it, but the hackneyed dialogue, the forbidden princess who the main character falls in love with at first sight and she obviously loves him too even though she's mean to him at first and aaauuuggggh are you kidding me with this, Netflix? Basically, all the bad poo poo added up real quick.
You're projecting years of Hollywood tripe onto the relationship between Marco and the princess. I don't think he's in love with her - he just has the hots for her. And she certainly doesn't reciprocate his crush, at least not as of halfway through episode 5.

Josh Lyman fucked around with this message at Dec 14, 2014 around 16:10

murphyslaw
Feb 16, 2007
It never fails

Josh Lyman posted:

I don't really understand the Game of Thrones comparison, and the fact that people keep repeating that stinks of ethnocentrism.

Well, when I make that comparison it's to let people unfamiliar with the show know what to expect; ye olde tyme political intrigue and drama, sex, people getting chopped up, etc. 8 years ago I'd be comparing it to Rome. GoT is the Big Thing most english-speaking people would be familiar with when it comes to this kind of series, so invoking it is more a descriptive shorthand for me, rather than unexamined racial chauvinism. Unless I'm misreading you?

MrSlam
Apr 25, 2014

And there you sat, eating hamburgers while the world cried.

I don't know. I've been burned in the past by American made period piec-
Wait! Did somebody say gratuitous Asian women doing things gratuitously?

MrSlam fucked around with this message at Dec 14, 2014 around 19:05

Jose
Jul 24, 2007



Watched the first episode today. This apparently is the second most expensive season of a TV show ever after Game of Thrones.

qbert
Oct 23, 2003

It's both thrilling and terrifying.

Just finished the season and the show is perfectly decent. I was expecting way worse from the reviews, but the worst thing I can say about the show is that it aspires to be GoT and falls short. I still admire the ambition of attempting a show with a big cast, plenty of subplots, and a more complex than usual plot. I give the show huge points for being 99.9% non-white, having the Marco character in only like 25% of the scenes, and having the whole season available at once, which I'm sure made its deficiencies more palatable than they would've been watching week to week.

At least it's better than Da Vinci's Demons.

Jose posted:

Watched the first episode today. This apparently is the second most expensive season of a TV show ever after Game of Thrones.

I've seen that headline too and I wonder where people got that from. Apparently the first season of this cost $90 million, which is way more than any season of GoT cost to produce.

Steve2911
Jan 22, 2013

Please be excited.


Is it just me or did every character pick an accent from a hat? Some have a twinge of American and some sound like they're from Romford.

tuyop
Sep 14, 2006

Every second that we're not growing BASIL is a second wasted


Fun Shoe

/\/\ yeah that's bizarre. And Marco seems to go from light Italian to British seamlessly and at random.

You definitely need to know a bit of Yuan China history to appreciate it. Since I do, I've really been enjoying it despite the artistic license at times.

Put this next to True Blood (which my wife has been watching when I'm not in the room) as Haute Television and I have no idea where the complaints of writing and character come from. Most TV is loving terribly written and shot and Marco Polo is not.

Shasta Orange Soda
Apr 24, 2007


Josh Lyman posted:

You're projecting years of Hollywood tripe onto the relationship between Marco and the princess. I don't think he's in love with her - he just has the hots for her. And she certainly doesn't reciprocate his crush, at least not as of halfway through episode 5.

Or she's playing hard-to-get for a while to stretch the love story out. I could be wrong, like I said I didn't even finish the second episode, but it definitely felt like things were heading that direction, especially considering the quality of the show's writing.

tuyop posted:

Put this next to True Blood (which my wife has been watching when I'm not in the room) as Haute Television and I have no idea where the complaints of writing and character come from. Most TV is loving terribly written and shot and Marco Polo is not.

I think people are comparing it to the sort of shows it clearly wants to be, not the normal crap on TV.

Astro Nut
Feb 22, 2013

Nonsensical Space Powers, Activate! Form of Friendship!

tuyop posted:

/\/\ yeah that's bizarre. And Marco seems to go from light Italian to British seamlessly and at random.

You definitely need to know a bit of Yuan China history to appreciate it. Since I do, I've really been enjoying it despite the artistic license at times.

Put this next to True Blood (which my wife has been watching when I'm not in the room) as Haute Television and I have no idea where the complaints of writing and character come from. Most TV is loving terribly written and shot and Marco Polo is not.

Polo's actor learned English in the process of filming, so its possible he's got a bit of a mix from whomever was teaching him, the people he worked around (including the British Benedict Wong), and then of course his own natural accent. What some people forget is that just having an accent won't necessarily make you consistent in using it.

Beyond that though, the critical stuff regarding writing probably has to do with some expectations on how fictional characters are 'meant' to speak. I mean, sometimes the dialogue can get cringeworthy, but at the same time, given its the 13th century, its not surprising to see someone say, give a boastful speech about how they plan to rule the world - honestly, its pretty tame compared to some of the stuff that was said in such times. Bayan's comments about yin and yang are weird because him having Taoist beliefs is just odd given what's (vaguely) known of the figure, not that such dialogue has somehow never come out of a real life person's mouth. Because, y'know, people have and do believe in the influences of yin and yang, whatever some writer might say about it being 'cliché' due to whatever number of wuxia films they've watched. Its a really subjective thing, so I think say, for more casual viewers, it'd be less of an issue, because they're less focused on whether or not the dialogue is also laced with character insight or if its similar to lines said in five other shows because they probably haven't watched all of them, compared to critics who have to go over (and listen to) this sort of thing again and again. They're more inclined to seek dialogue that strikes them, and isn't something they've seen before, even if it may otherwise make sense in context.

Though I do expect there's also an element of hype letdown, for some folks. As stated (and admittedly used by myself), Game of Thrones was the main source of comparison for Marco Polo, and being frank, that set the bar fairly drat high. Combine that with Marco Polo's obscene budget, and its role as Netflix' 'big venture' and many were likely hoping to have a masterpiece of historical drama to serve as GoT's similarly grim, but 'real life' counterpart. What we got is what I'd call overall decent, but certainly not what many had been hoping for, in lieu of all that.

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Party Plane Jones
Jul 1, 2007

BORN TO MOD
USPOL IS A FUCK
Onigami Toxx Em All 2019
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Fun Shoe

ufarn posted:

The battles in Marco Polo are also incredibly weird; they make it seem as if the Mongolian army were 1,000 people.

They're using actual extras for it and not CGI though which cuts down the numbers of troops they have available. The amazing flyby with Kublai and Ariq shows about 2,000 or more horsemen. It doesn't make much sense, yeah, when they say somebody is commanding a tumen. That's 10,000 troops.

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