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Da Vinci’s Demons

Fri Apr 26, 10-11.10pm, Fox

Series one, episode two
It’s hard to believe, we know. But back in the day, the Catholic Church wasn’t quite the model of restraint and probity that we recognise today. Tonight, young Leonardo learns that the hard way as the Pope’s dastardly nephew Girolamo Riario turns up in Florence and starts to try out his various instruments of torture. But surely he won’t be able to outwit Leo, portrayed here as shagger, warrior, inventor, detective, artist and wit par excellence.

Much of ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ – the ‘Janet and John’-level symbolism, the clunkily colloquial script, the pantomime action sequences – is utterly ridiculous. Its role model was presumably ‘Rome’ – period gravitas plus seethingly grubby sex and brilliantly gory ultraviolence equals primetime paydirt. In reality, it just about surpasses ‘The Tudors’ – but it’s damnably watchable, all the same.