It wasn't until 2012 when I watched HBO's "Rome" for the first time. I saw it a second time then bought the DVD set. I have watched the full series five times, and season 1 six times. The past couple times I've paid particular attention to the details of the settings. I've read Mary Beard's SPQR and other modern books on Rome and found the HBO series' attention to detail in the costumes, sets, everyday life and locations to be fascinating.
I believe HBO's "Rome" is the best reproduction of that era I've seen on film. It stands in stark contrast to the early film imagery of a premature Imperial era presented in films like 'Cleopatra' (still fascinating, regardless). This series is important because no matter how great a writer describes an era, the film representation reveals a great deal about the era.
The composite characters threw me at times, but I recognize that when too many characters are active it makes a story overwhelming. I liked Ciarán Hinds as Caesar, but I wish he could had resembled the images we have of Caesar; also, I wasn't left with the impression that I'd seen the 'real' Caesar portrayed. Today, Hinds could have been physically altered with CGI if he'd permit it. Regardless, it was a great portrayal, but every actor who has played Caesar comes up with something different.
James Purefoy did an incredible job as Anthony and looked near perfect for the part, although I suspect the real Anthony would wish to look as good a Purefoy. One other thing, I found both young Octavian and older Octavian far too likeable. Don't get me wrong, I actually like Caesar Augustus, but I tend to see him more like Roddy McDowell in 'Cleopatra'. And perhaps, Cicero was a just a tad too squirrelly (heh). Nonetheless, virtually every actor delivered outstanding performances.
When I got the DVD set, I discovered the hundreds of footnotes and other materials; a really nice feature.
Top notch production in my book. Five stars.