Netflix seems to be setting the standard for good TV these past couple of years. The new series "Marco Polo" is a fascinating look at the legendary adventurer/explorer during his time in Kublai Khan's court in 13th Century China.
While Lorenzo Richelmy plays Polo as a wide-eyed innocent for most of this first season, the show turns into an education for both the character and the audience in Mongolian and Chinese culture. Richelmy is surrounded by a fantastic group of actors which breathe life into a charming (and usually dangerous) cast of characters, most notably Bendict Wong as Kublai Khan (who wants to be Emperor of the world); Tom Wu as Hundred Eyes (a blind master of the martial arts who becomes a mentor to Polo); Olivia Cheng as Mei Lin (a "concubine" who kicks ass and is forced to become an assassin in order to save her daughter) and Chin Han as the ruthless Chancellor Jia Sidao (the "big bad" for this first season). Everyone in the cast is memorable and charming and each one is deserving of more screen time. The women on this show are of particular interest: the concubine who only wants to save her daughter; the Empress who gives sound advice to her husband and is quite the marksman with a bow and arrow; the "Blue Princess" who is more than what she appears; the wrestler who won't marry until she's beaten in combat.
The show boasts some impressive martial arts and sword fighting as well, though nothing quite as bloody or grotesque as you'd see on Game of Thrones. There's also some magnificent scenery shown off throughout the show from deserts to lush gardens. Of course, the political intrigue, squabbles among the royal family of Khan and Polo's own knack for getting himself in trouble (usually by falling for a woman or his own arrogance) help move the show forward.
And, like most shows who want to hook you in for their second season, there's also a nice little cliffhanger at the end that sets up a new enemy for Kublai Khan and thus Marco Polo himself.
All in all, [Marco Polo](movie:403893) is a fantastic show with a rich group of characters and enough action and intrigue to warrant a day long marathon of the first season.