Netflix has a handful of popular original series under its belt now (House of Cards and Orange is the New Black being the best known examples), and the upcoming Marco Polo could be the latest addition to the streaming service’s collection of hits. The series, as you can see from the teaser above, follows the young Marco (played by newcomer Lorenzo Richelmy) on his adventures in Kublai Khan’s court and war-torn China in the 13th century.
Per the norm with Netflix shows, the Marco Polo teaser footage is closer to the risqué side of cable entertainment, with its hints of some grisly violence and steamy content to come. The series was created by John Fusco – writer of The Forbidden Kingdom and the upcoming Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend (slated to premiere on Netflix in 2015) – and executive produced by Harvey Weinstein. Hence, Marco Polo boasts fairly impressive production values, relative to your average small screen venture (even those on Netflix).
Marco Polo was originally developed as an original series for Starz, going a few years back. Although the network eventually passed, you can see from the teaser how Marco Polo would’ve been at home under the same umbrella as such TV series as Da Vinci’s Demons and Black Sails (as a grittier and pulpier historical drama). Helping to establish the series’ tone and blend of violence, sex, and political intrigue in that regard is Game of Thrones alum Dan Minahan, who directed two episodes for Marco Polo‘s 10-episode first season, in addition to serving as an executive producer.
Rounding out the cast of Marco Polo are such folk as Zhu Zhu (Cloud Atlas) as Marco’s love interest Kokachin, Bendict Wong (Prometheus) as Kublai Khan, Joan Chen (The Last Emperor, Twin Peaks) as Empress Chabi, and Remy Hii (Neighbors the TV series) as Prince Jingim.
The first two episodes of Marco Polo were directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, who also helmed the Oscar-nominated low-budget sailing adventure Kon-Tiki; meaning, the pair has experience crafting visually-lush drama with more limited resources, which bodes well for their work here. Starting in early 2015, the directors will set to work on Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, so their work on Marco Polo will offer a second test run of their abilities, in a sense.
As for Netflix, Marco Polo should allow the streaming service to continue diversifying its original entertainment offerings for customers, between its already established hits and upcoming programs. Indeed, what with stuff like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Marco Polo, and its developing series – be it Marvel Studios’ Daredevil or Scholastic’s Magic School Bus 360 degrees – Netflix really is beginning to reach the point where it has something for everyone.
Marco Polo will be available for viewing on Netflix starting December 12th, 2014.