I'm pleased, in fact, to see Octavius taking such a central role. In fact, I'd go as far right now as to say that it looks to my eye very much as though the whole production has really been conceived from the start as his story. Not Julius Caesar's, not Mark Antony's. It starts at the very point when the young Octavius is just beginning to become actively involved in the affairs of his family and the politics of Rome. Of course, his story involves some major secondary players, and I'm sure they will have their moments. But in terms of the grand arc of the production, it looks to me as though it is his life story that will form the central peg on which all others hang. And so it should, because he is amazing.
It's a pity, that being the case, that they've got his name wrong. He didn't officially become Octavian(us) until adopted by Julius Caesar, and he didn't use the name himself even then. And a pity that we didn't get to see his first real major public appearance in Rome - the delivery of the funeral oration for his dead grandmother, Julia. But I suppose that that would only have worked for an audience familiar with the device of the Roman funeral oration, and who wants to hear a long boring speech anyway, when they can see him nearly getting killed in Gaul?
On the plus side, his costume was excellent (a bulla! and a toga praetexta!), his physical appearance convincingly like his later portrait images (as indeed was the case for most of the major characters) and his characterisation just perfect. The nerdy kid with a vicious streak, already unnervingly au fait with Roman politics and keen to manipulate and control. Oh yes, all just ready to flower into a most excellent Augustus.
I look forward to seeing more: of him, of the sets, and of the fine details of HBO's Roman world.
Edited 03/11/05 to correct mistake about Julia.