January 21st, 2021

‘Barbarians Rising’ raises the drama standard

By Lethbridge Herald on June 24, 2016.

Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald
Theres nothing better in my books than a week off at home when rain, wind and a lack of heat give me an excuse not to do yard work. And with nearly 50 roses in my yard, plus numerous shrubs, trees and other green stuff, I have more than enough to keep me occupied when I’m not trying to get in 20,000 steps walking the dogs while fitting in a workout at the gym.
Yes, 20,000 steps, which is essentially 10 miles, a goal I strive to reach on a daily basis if I can. At 57, it’s not always easy, I have to admit. But as a dog owner, whose pups’ happiness means the world to me, I have no hesitation hitting the park at 6 a.m. even when the winds are howling or the rain clouds bursting.
Last week’s weather gave me a chance to indulge in another passion — and I don’t mean napping.
I managed to catch up on some series television on days when I’d normally be crashing early to get ready for work.
One series which has absolutely floored me is “Barbarians Rising” Monday nights on History. This finely-acted historical drama focuses on efforts to crush the Roman Empire by the leaders of peoples eager to regain their long-lost freedom.
This week’s two-hour episode focused primarily on Boudica, British queen of the Iceni who led a revolt against Rome around 60 AD after she was whipped and her daughters raped in front of her following the death of her husband Prasutagus, whose will leaving his kingdom to his children, was ignored by the foreign occupiers.
Played fiercely and passionately by Scottish actor Kirsty Mitchell, Boudica was absolutely vicious and merciless, using Roman tactics against them, at one point destroying the key city of Londonium. In one attack, she burned alive numerous women and children, sending a message to Rome they now had an adversary to truly fear.
Mitchell is a dynamic acting force, one who surely has made legions of fans after her starring role in “Barbarians” which is the best historical drama I’ve viewed in ages.
With this series, History is showing just how good television can really be. Hopefully, we will see more of Mitchell, along with her hugely talented castmates, in series to come. And more quality television like “Barbarians,” a series that will deserve serious consideration come the Emmy nominations.
Another favourite of mine — and I’m a real latecomer to it — is “Game of Thrones,” which ends its sixth season on Sunday. Thanks to HBO on Demand, I can start catching up on the previous five seasons after the final episode airs on Sunday. If not for Google, I’d have little clue who the “Thrones” characters are but the acting and writing are so superb even a newbie like me can be drawn into it.
With some timely rain and scorching heat to convince the dogs to stay indoors on my weekends, hopefully I’ll manage to get through all five previous seasons of “Thrones” before summer is over. Considering how the German Shepherd now rolls over on his back and refuses to move if he doesn’t feel like hiking, I’m sure that should be easily accomplished.
For lighter fare, I’m really getting a kick out of the reboot of “To Tell the Truth” on ABC Tuesday nights. Hosted by comedian Anthony Anderson and featuring a panel of Betty White, NBA star Jalen Rose and someone named NeNe Leakes plus a guest, this series has three people proclaiming to be an individual with a special gift or tale to tell, only one of whom is telling the truth.
The panel must figure out who that is and they are hilarious. This is an hour-long guilty pleasure of laughs and lightweight fun that is almost addictive.
Anderson even has his mom involved in the act, keeping score and giving her own opinion on which panellists are right.
With heavy viewing like “Barbarians Rising” and “Game of Thrones” providing the meat of the viewing week, “To Tell the Truth” offers a refreshing dessert.

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