Network: HBO
Air Dates: August 28, 2005 – March 25, 2007
Stars: Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker, Max Pirkis, Simon Woods, Lindsay Duncan, James Purefoy, Ciaran Hinds, Tobias Menzies, Kerry Condon, Indira Varma, Allen Leech

Television's current preeminence over film has been largely discussed and written about in recent years, and it's a point that's tough to argue against. Sitting in an unlit movie theater to transport yourself to lavish worlds only read about in books isn't the only option—look no further than refined shows like Mad Men and Game of Thrones.

Back in 2005, the creators behind HBO's Rome captured the period elegance and unflinching brutality of films like Gladiator to deliver fierce entertainment to the small screen. Very loosely adhering to historical fact, Rome chronicled the fall of Julius Caesar and the rise of Emperor Augustus through the blood-soaked lives of two fictional warriors (played by Ray Stevenson and Kevin McKidd).

Rome also predated the present trend of more and more accomplished film directors dabbling in TV: One of the show's co-creators was John Milius, known for writing Apocalypse Now and directing action flicks like Conan the Barbarian and Red Dawn. —MB