When on Rome…

I was all prepared to be disinterested in the HBO series Rome, the first disc of which arrived last week from Netflix, but I had to give it a try because everyone who mattered said I did.

Of course the first episode was terrific and I was hooked, dammit. This brings to six the number of current or recent TV series that I must follow on DVD, the others being Prison Break, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Weeds, and the final season-and-a-half of The Sopranos, which I still haven’t seen (but have had spoiled). I also have yet to sample Dexter or Big Love, both of which sound like they also have the potential to hook me. Thank goodness I lost interest in Veronica Mars and Deadwood and never even liked Heroes.

Anyway, back to the first episode of Rome. As with many first-tier TV productions these days it had outstanding writing, performances, and production values, but when I think about the show, the one thing I keep coming back to is Polly Walker’s nipples.

In her introductory scene as Atia, scheming niece of Julius Caesar, she is astride her lover Timon, both of them oblivious to the slaves and attendants who surround them at a discreet distance as they hump their way to climax. Prominently on display in this scene are Atia’s (that is to say Polly Walker’s) erect and, I have to say, impressive nipples.

Now, I’ve been around a bit. I’ve seen my share of erect nipples, in person and in pictures. I’ve seen plenty of sex in film, both real and simulated. I would not have expected a detail like this could so captivate me this late in my sexual life.

Yet somehow I can’t escape the image. And I doubt I’m alone in this. My tastes are extremely conventional, after all; and as Howard Hughes says in The Aviator, “Who doesn’t like tits?”

That means there is a good chance that the success enjoyed to date by Rome, and by Polly Walker herself, may be attributable in large part to the shrewdly early viewer-hooking use of those tiny but strangely fascinating anatomical items.

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time that nipples have made a career…

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