With Marco Polo, an intriguing series of historical ass-kicking, Netflix aims to join HBO’s prestige TV game

December 11, 2014 5:45 PM

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This Friday, Netflix unspools its most expensive and expansive production to date. Made at reported cost of $90-million, the 10-episode, Weinstein company co-produced Marco Polo sets the video streaming company’s sights squarely at the big game of prestige television (that would be of the Game of Thrones variety) and, perhaps more importantly, on the international market — which goes a long way to explain why it is both marvellous and, more often than not, marvellously frustrating.

In a viewing of the first four episodes, it’s not hard to see where the money went. Marco Polo, which sets up the relationship between the Venetian merchant (Lorenzo Richelmy) and Kublai Khan (Benedict Wong), avoids the obvious CGI flourishes in favour of hundreds of actual human extras, meticulousl...

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