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Published: Friday, April 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

'Da Vinci's Demons' paints Leonardo as swashbuckler

The title, "DaVinci's Demons," may sound like an anthology of author Dan Brown's best sellers, but in fact this new series falls into an increasingly popular genre: historical fantasy.
In this Starz original, which debuts at 10 p.m. today after the series finale of "Spartacus," our dashing hero is the quintessential Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci (rakishly played by Brit Tom Riley).
He is described in the press material as an "artist, inventor, swordsman." That last title is meant, I believe, to cover both senses of the word.
Leo can charm Lorenzo Medici (Elliott Cowan) as well as Lorenzo's mistress, Lucrezia Donati (Laura Haddock). One into business, one into bed.
And if there's a situation this insolent, prankish genius can't talk his way out of, well, en garde. Da Vinci can best a whole squadron of the pope's armored thugs.
All this while tossing off exquisite sketches and schematics for machines that are centuries before their time.
Suffice it to say "Da Vinci's Demons" (warning: it contains nudity, violence and profanity) has a lot of balls in the air. But it manages this juggling act with aplomb. The British cast is excellent, and the series, shot in Wales, does a pretty job of simulating early Renaissance Florence.


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