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Da Vinci’s Demons: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray Review)

Da-Vincis-Demons-Season 2Get ready to journey into one of the greatest minds in history! From Creator and Executive Producer David S. Goyer, comes the second season of Da Vinci’s Demons, bigger and bolder as Leonardo da Vinci travels to South America, Naples, and Turkey, in his quest to find answers. Science mixes with love, lust and thrills in an adventure that is as inventive as the man who inspired it. This is the must see series that critics are calling “Explosive” and a “Fantastical drama” (TV Guide Magazine), “Compelling” and a “Well-crafted story” (New York Daily News) and simply “a whole heck of a lot of fun” (Zap2it). Da Vinci’s Demons: The Complete Second Season is unlike anything ever seen, a historical fantasy drama that truly soars to new heights!

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Season 

Da Vinci’s Demons: The Complete Second Season  begins as Florence is thrown into chaos in the wake of the Pazzi conspiracy and Leonardo da Vinci must push the limits of his mind and body to defend the city against the forces of Rome. When the dust settles, friends are buried and rivalries enflamed. While the Medicis go to unthinkable lengths to deal with new threats, da Vinci continues on his quest to find the fabled Book of Leaves and uncover the secret history of his mother. He’ll come to realize that he has lethal competition in his quest — new enemies who may be even worse than the forces of Pope Sixtus.

The second season of Starz’ Da Vinci’s Demons is pretty bold and really breaks out and goes much bigger than the first season.  As someone mentions in the bonus features, the feeling is they went from little closeted warehouses to massive sound stages.  Visually, the season is very open, large and with greater possibilities and a much larger world for this series to explore.  There are a lot more possibilities for this show than the first season even hinted at.  In season 2, they’re not afraid to just go for it right away.

And its not just in the locales explored with new peoples and characters being introduced.  The show really ups the ante in its presentation and as well.  The sex from the first season is toned down a lot, traded in for enhanced graphic violence and some added cruelty.  There are some Game Of Thrones‘ level moments of gore and violence.  Is it exploitative?  Maybe to a degree.  But what matters it that the violence here counts.  It hurts and we don’t take enjoyment out of watching it happen to the characters.  Our eyes pop open with shock, we squirm in our seats, we hide our eyes, we imaginatively feel that pain.  It really works.  The modern master of this kind of thrill is Neil Marshall and Da Vinci’s Demons really gravitates and excels on that level.

Narratively, this season is structured a little oddly.  Season 2 is really episodes 3-8.  The first two episodes of this season feel like the conclusion or missing 2 episodes from season 1.  The final two episodes are kind of their own thing.  One cleans up some loose ends from this season and last and the finale basically feels like it could be the first episode of season 3.  What’s weird is that episode 9 feels as if that story could have lasted for a good majority of its own season, but manages to be all taken care of and swept under the rug in an hour’s time.

Really, the crux of Season 2 is those middle 6 episodes where every splits apart on their own personal quests and journeys.  Because of the kind of scattered, choppy narrative that comprises the second season, I almost gave this a rating of 3.5.  However, the strength of these middle 6 episodes is so strong and is the best run the show has ever had.  It was the stuff of a good page turning novel where you couldn’t stop.  I texted Brian during this run and recommended he check the show out because I was enjoying it more than ever.  During season 1 I told people it was a nice show that if they get time and need something to see, it was a fun little filler.  Here in season 2, it was worthy of a recommend.

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Some new characters are introduced in season 2 as well as some more ancillary one from the first season are explored a little more.  The highlight of them all was Ima, who was a love interest for his mother and had information for him about his mother and “The Book Of Leaves”.  Not only is the actress quite stunning and easy on the eyes, she definitely knew how to take command of a scene and work well with the cast.  She was quite captivating.  I don’t know if we’ll revisit her at all in the series, but I for one wouldn’t be opposed to her returning.

My one fall back of the second season was the treatment of Lucrezia Donati.  She was the major factor and big player in the show’s first season.  Next to Leonardo Da Vinci, she was the biggest part.  She’s also the second billed performer in the credits.  She’s given her own quest, but relatively nothing interesting to do.  Haddock is on her own and given none of the main cast to interact with.  I also swear a few episodes when by and she didn’t even make an appearance.  Her return and allegiance at the end of the season is, I think, supposed to be a surprising affair, but because I didn’t care much for her storyline throughout, it didn’t mean much to me or have any  sort of impact.

While Lucrezia is kind of bumped down in this season, I felt Lara Pulver’s Clarice Orsini (Wife of Lorenzo) was given a lot more meaty stuff to do with some really interesting political plotlines.  She seemed a commanding force, and had a nice engaging political storyline with her husband away and her in charge of Florence.  They also gave her a scandalous affair subplot too, that just seemed to be filler but I think really panned out in some devious ways with a big reveal in the penultimate episode.

I just wrote a lot about the women on the show, but I felt their contributions were interesting if not the “substantial” main plot lines.  Leonardo Da Vinci is more focused this time and less eccentric.  The imagination and “vision” stuff is still present this season, but toned down to where it is an essential need of the plot.  Most of the “fun” and one-liners are given to Zoroaster who bumps up to a more regular contributor as sort of a comic foil for Da Vinci on his quest.  We are also given much more Riario this season, and he’s a guy you just love to hate.  I’m really interested to where we see this guy go next.  This season you can kind of see them really building him to become the “big bad” of where ever this adventure ends, which is cool.  Lorenzo is given a very difficult story for him that is pretty humbling compared to where he was last year.  It also includes some very graphic “serial killer”-esque visuals with a character he interacts with for his portion, which is groovy.

Awaiting you in the show’s sophomore season is a LOT of adventure, exploration and mystery.  The show manages to dabble in some really good suspense and edge of your seat entertainment.  Its focus on its middle 6 episodes argues for it to be considered great and “must watch” television.  You’ll also enjoy all the new sets and locales the characters venture to throughout the course of the season.  The show has gone from nice, to one we should probably start paying more attention to.  The show’s third season is starting up soon, and this time I’m going to try to follow along as there’s a nice setup.

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Episode Guide

“The Blood Of Man”

“The Blood Of Brothers”

“The Voyage Of The Damned”

“The Ends Of The Earth”

“The Sun And The Moon”

“The Rope Of The Dead”

“The Vault Of Heaven”

“The Fall From Heaven”

“The Enemies Of Man”

“The Sins Of Daedalus”

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  This digital show looks as pristine as ever.  Detail runs high, as you can make out wrinkles, tears and loose threads on fabrics.  Surfaces of swords, floors and tables reveal dirt, cracks, smudges and blood stains.  No detail goes hidden.

Depth:  The show features a nice 3-dimensional look in a 2-D presentation.  Environments hold their ground nicely as characters and objects live in them.  There’s a great sense space and distance, especially in caverns, Da Vinci’s workspace and dungeons.  Blurriness in background and foreground is only presented as intended.

Black Levels:  Blacks are nice and rich.  Detail is not hidden as dark hair follicles and textures, tears and patterns on black clothing are easily discernible.

Color Reproduction:  The color scheme looks very lifelike without a lot of embellishment.  Golds tended to look really nice in the image.  Whites also feature a nice variety and detailed tints and shadings.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout.  Dried blood, sweat, dirt, wrinkles and stubble are all purely visible at any distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish Stereo

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:

Low Frequency Extension:  Action events such as cannon fire, explosions, waves crashing and punches produce a nice hard stomp from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Rear speakers gets some really involved ambiance.  There’s moans, spooky noises and people going about there business emanating from the rear channels.  The front speakers keep busy with movements across the screen and accurate placement of action and volumes in coordination with onscreen events.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp and produced with much clarity and great volume.  Pitch and volume are accurately representation to where a character is on or off-screen.

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Extras 

Da Vinci’s Demons: The Complete Second Season comes packaged identically to the first season.  Its a nice hard, glossy tri-fold with sturdy slip cover that goes over it.  Unlike the first season, this one lacks having any commentary tracks.  Instead its left to just promotional jargon supplementals that I’m sure aired during commercial breaks on Starz.  They’re still decently informative though.  All the bonus features are on Disc 3.

The Journey Begins: Season 1 Recap (HD, 4:15) – The title of this feature pretty much says it all.

A Closer Look (HD, 10:50) – David S Goyer, along with the cast and crew, talk about going much bigger in season 2 and their desire to split the cast up to go on their separate ways.

Creating The New World (HD, 3:41) – Discusses shooting in Mexico, and bringing early America to life for the Da Vinci crowd.

New Sets (HD, 4:30) – Focuses on doing bigger, more elaborate set pieces and blue screen CGI work for the sophomore season.

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Summary 

There’s no real “sophomore slump” here with the second season of Da Vinci’s Demons.  Its a bit choppy in its narrative, but I felt the show improved and become bigger and better in season 2.  The 6 episode run from 3-8 was the best and most exciting the show has ever been.  If anything, it kept with being as good as season 1 and turning it up a notch.  This Blu-ray has a fantastic audio and video presentation, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since its a modern Anchor Bay title.  It comes in very nice packaging, but doesn’t offer too much in the extras department.  And the extras are a step down from the season 1 set.  However, if you’re a fan of the show, this is still well worth your money to have in the collection.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “Da Vinci’s Demons: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Would you be lost if you jumped into this show second season without having seen the first? It does look interesting!

  2. Brandon Peters

    I think you’d be very lost. First season is pretty good and its shorter (8 eps) too. I recommend the first on account that its good, with the second season being better and having a “great” run of episodes in there.