Marco Polo: The Wayfarer
December 15, 2014 2:39 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

In a world replete with greed, betrayal, sexual intrigue and rivalry, "Marco Polo" is based on the famed explorer's adventures in Kublai Khan's court in 13th century China. [IMDB]

This doesn’t seem to have got off to a good start, but I really want to like it because it’s the sort of show I'm generally interested in (sweeping historical drama). It had a terrific opening sequence that quickly bogged down.
Cinematography is great, well acted, just a turgid script. Hopefully it will pick up.
Love the Flacco haircuts.

Related: and now that we do podcasts, here are some bonus podcasts included for some actual factual history type listening (we do all subscribe to IOT and Hardcore History don’t we?): In our Time - Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the celebrated Venetian explorer Marco Polo and Dan Carlin - Wrath of the Khans.

Disclaimer: One of my cats is named Marco Polo. He has no interest in this show. My other cat is named Lulu Bell, she has even less interest.
posted by unliteral (10 comments total)
I'm giving this a whirl but I'm finding it terribly bland. Marco especially just kinda wanders around without any real passion. It wasn't even a surprise when his father left him with Khan; the guy had been trying to dump Marco since day one.

The costumes are nice. Khan's son, Golden, is more interesting as a character and actor than Marco.

Da Vinci and The Musketeers are better shows though, even if their production values appear to be lower.

Unliteral, will you be posting weekly or daily? All the episodes are out.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 5:34 PM on December 15, 2014

Are the women in this written well or at least as equally badly as the male characters? I'm holding back because I have a huiuuuuge love of Khan history and I don't want to watch a boys-only version. Also child deaths on screen?
posted by viggorlijah at 5:47 PM on December 15, 2014

Unliteral, will you be posting weekly or daily? All the episodes are out.
I was going to do daily. Watching episode two tonight.
posted by unliteral at 7:21 PM on December 15, 2014

We've been watching this. I had read somewhere (perhaps on reddit?) that the first two episodes are terrible but the next four are better. I do think the first two are kind of terrible, we watched them back to back. The first one here is rather rushed and you have no idea what's going on at all. They compress a four thousand mile journey into a long montage and then suddenly you are in the court of the Khan.

I've seen the first five. The standout of the show is the actor playing the Khan. His part isn't written well -- just as the show isn't overall -- but he's the only likable character. The third and fourth episodes pick up considerably from the first two. So far the gender roles aren't going to make too many people happy, I think. On the plus side there's a bit of unexpected diversity in the Khan's court. But on the minus side anything to do with the south -- China -- looks like a typical Chinese period movie. (The 'mantis-style' scene in the third had us howling with laughter.)

But you've already met the blind kung-fu master in the first episode, so you know what you are getting into with this show.
posted by Catblack at 8:34 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I watched the first two episodes back to back. Over the last couple of days I have played a few more episodes in the background while I cooked and did chores around the house. I finally gave up when I heard one historical gaff too many. I just couldn't suspend any more disbelief unless I were to whack myself vigorously upon my head with a frying pan.

I think Netflix is doing it backwards. It seems like they are polling what viewers like and then creating shows that fit the results. I'm willing to give these shows a chance when they come out but I can only take so much historical nonsense. I suppose next on the menu will be a Netflix series about the Battle of Alesia. I imagine I'll give that one up, too--right about the moment that Caesar calls in air support to help break the siege.
posted by CincyBlues at 11:17 PM on December 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Saw a remark that this would have been deemed a fine cable drama a decade ago -- precisely why it is so disappointing to be on Netflix now: too conventional by half. Nothing like the mold-breaking of e.g. OITNB.
posted by dhartung at 1:34 AM on December 16, 2014

I try to extend some extra credit to any show with a majority-POC cast, but this show is really not making it easy. It takes a couple of cues from Game of Thrones ("rad costumes" and "if you're going to have an exposition dump, put some naked women in the background/foreground"), but misses two of the most important ones ("this character is fun to spend time with" and "this dialogue is not super-grating").

Marco is a ridiculous Gary Stu. Everyone in the show keeps yammering about how great he is, and I am entirely at a loss as to why.

I would 100% watch a show about Kublai and Arik riding around having adventures, though.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:45 AM on December 16, 2014

Marco is a ridiculous Gary Stu. Everyone in the show keeps yammering about how great he is, and I am entirely at a loss as to why.

I haven't really noticed this. The only character that really thinks he's worthwhile having around at all is Kublai, and otherwise he has been fucking up almost constantly. The thing they say he's really good at is writing, which we haven't seen anything about.
posted by Hoopo at 1:43 PM on December 16, 2014

Without getting into any spoiler territory, IMO eps 3 and 4 start to get a lot stronger.
posted by dnash at 9:06 AM on December 17, 2014

I don't know, dnash. I'm on ep 6 and I just now feel like I'm getting something of a payoff from my investment.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 5:52 PM on December 17, 2014

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