Helen Of Troy

Lavish by TV standards, if lacking the courtesy to list Homer's Illiad as its inspiration, this mini-series sails buoyantly through ancient history; the gods should be pleased. Cassandra (Bettina Paris), the young daughter of King Priam of Troy (John Rhys-Davies), prophecies that her newborn brother, Paris, is destined to cause the downfall of Troy. Because...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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Lavish by TV standards, if lacking the courtesy to list Homer's Illiad as its inspiration, this mini-series sails buoyantly through ancient history; the gods should be pleased. Cassandra (Bettina Paris), the young daughter of King Priam of Troy (John Rhys-Davies), prophecies that her newborn brother, Paris, is destined to cause the downfall of Troy. Because Cassandra's predictions have proved accurate on other occasions, Priam orders that the infant be exposed on a hilltop. A childless peasant rescues the baby and raises him to be a shepherd. Meanwhile, in Greece, the stunningly beautiful Helen (Sienna Guillory) grows up parentless after her mother leaps off a tower. Power-hungry Agamemnon (Rufus Sewell), King of Mycenae, plots the destruction of Troy and consolidates his power by marrying

Helen;s sister, Clytemnestra (Katie Blake); Agamemnon's brother, King Menelaus of Sparta (James Callis) can't take his eyes off the bride's sister. Also smitten with the teen beauty, King Theseus of Athens (Stellan Skarsgard) abducts Helen, but her brother, Pollux (Craig Kelly), leads a rescue party that returns her to her Menelaus. Meanwhile, the grown Paris (Matthew Marsden) challenges the royal family's right to help itself to his adoptive father's flock, and takes his grievance to King Priam's palace arena. Paris distinguishes himself in competition and resumes his rightful place at court. Paris represents his father's government at a peace-keeping summit in Sparta, where Helen is so smitten with the handsome Trojan diplomat that she runs away with him. Agamemnon, Menelaus, King Odysseus of Ithaca (Nigel Whitmey) and legendary warrior Achilles (Joe Montana) now have the excuse they need to attack Troy. Perhaps they could breach the city's massive walls with the gift of a large wooden horse filled with Sparta's fiercest soldiers… Although a "Who's Who in Greek Mythology" would sometimes come in handy, writer Ronnie Kern streamlines the narrative intelligently and director John Kent Harrison keeps the kings, heroes and innocent bystanders in play with an absence of stagey pomp. Guillory's Helen hardly seems capable of launching those 1000 ships, but she could easily set off a small fleet.

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