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April 26, 2012
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By Dean Robbins

‘The Borgias’ sets the standard for depravity

With their greed, brutality and lust — not to mention their Italian Renaissance duds — the Borgias family make the Sopranos family look practically modest. Neil Jordan’s “The Borgias” (Sunday, 9 p.m., Showtime), based on the powerful 15th century family, wallows in deliriously bad behavior in season two. Jeremy Irons is the quintessence of depravity as patriarch Rodrigo, who sees no reason to cut back on sex and plunder just because he’s become Pope. Rodrigo claims to have God on his side, making Him sound like the world’s biggest shakedown artist.

In this week’s episode, Rodrigo beds an ally’s wife, blackmails an army into giving all its spoils to the church (i.e., him), and instructs son Cesare (Francois Arnaud) on the finer points of vengeance.

In a meeting with Rodrigo, the king of France can barely mask his disdain. He addresses him as “holy father” but spits out the phrase like a curse.

Truly, “The Borgias” makes “holy” seem like the world’s dirtiest word.


Thursday, 7 p.m. (NBC)

The community-college sitcom has been working hard to justify its existence and this week, it offers a sublimely silly parody of fellow NBC series “Law & Order” and its spinoffs. The setup: A yam has been pushed off a counter in the science lab, ruining an experiment. Whodunit? The merciless script torpedoes every “Law & Order” cliché, from the investigation to the interrogation to the coroner’s report. Meanwhile, characters get cut off in mid-speech by that oppressive BOINK-BOINK sound effect.

The satire is so devastating that I predict a tense encounter should the “Community” and “Law & Order” groups cross paths in the NBC commissary. CV

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