Marco Polo (TV series)

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Marco Polo
Marco Polo 2014 title card.jpg
Promotional poster
Genre Historical Drama
Created by John Fusco
Directed by
Theme music composer Daniele Luppi
Ending theme Altan Urag
  • Peter Nashel
  • Eric V. Hachikian
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 20 + 1 special (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Romain Lacourbas
  • Vanja Černjul
  • Xavier Grobet
  • Gavin Struthers
  • Malcolm Jamieson
  • Michael Berenbaum
  • Allyson C. Johnson
  • Andrew Marcus
  • Barbara Tulliver
  • Elizabeth Kling
  • Malik Johnson
  • Martin Nicholson
  • Erica Freed Marker
  • Andy Keir
  • William Henry
Running time 51–60 minutes
Production company(s) The Weinstein Company TV
Original network Netflix
Picture format 1080i (HDTV), 2160p (4K UHD)
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1
Original release December 12, 2014 (2014-12-12) – July 1, 2016 (2016-07-01)

Marco Polo is an American drama web television series inspired by Marco Polo's early years in the court of Kublai Khan, the Khagan of the Mongol Empire and the founder of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). The show premiered on Netflix on December 12, 2014.[2] The series was written and created by John Fusco and stars Lorenzo Richelmy in the title role with Benedict Wong as Kublai Khan.[3] The series is produced by The Weinstein Company. On January 7, 2015, Marco Polo was renewed by Netflix for a 10-episode second season, which premiered on July 1, 2016.[4]

On December 12, 2016, Netflix announced they had canceled Marco Polo after two seasons. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the series' two seasons resulted in a $200 million loss for Netflix, and the decision to cancel the series was jointly taken by Netflix and The Weinstein Company.[5]

Cast and characters[edit]


Actor Character Seasons
1 2
Lorenzo Richelmy Marco Polo Main
Benedict Wong Kublai Khan Main
Joan Chen Empress Chabi Main
Remy Hii Crown Prince Jingim Main
Uli Latukefu Byamba Main
Zhu Zhu Nergui / Princess Kokachin Main
Mahesh Jadu Ahmad Main
Tom Wu Li Jinbao a.k.a. "Hundred Eyes" Main
Olivia Cheng Jia Mei Lin Main
Rick Yune Kaidu Khan Main
Pierfrancesco Favino Niccolò Polo Main
Amr Waked Vice Regent Yusuf Main Does not appear
Chin Han Chancellor Jia Sidao Main Guest
Claudia Kim Princess Khutulun Recurring Main
Jacqueline Chan Shabkana Khatun Does not appear Main
Ron Yuan Prince Nayan Does not appear Main
Leonard Wu Prince Orus Does not appear Main
Michelle Yeoh Lotus Does not appear Main
Thomas Chaanhing Gerel Khan Does not appear Main
Chris Pang Arban Khan Does not appear Main
Gabriel Byrne Pope Gregory X Does not appear Main


Actor Character Seasons
1 2
Chloe Luthi & Jaime Chew + Princess Ling Ling Recurring
Max Kellady Emperor Gong of Song Recurring
Esther Low Princess Kokachin Guest Recurring
Tan Kheng Hua Empress Dowager Xie Daoqing Recurring Does not appear
Patrick Teoh General Red Brow Recurring Does not appear
Lawrence Makoare Za Bing Recurring Does not appear
Nicholas Bloodworth Tulga Recurring Does not appear
Shu An Oon Jing Fei Recurring Does not appear
Vanessa Vanderstraaten Princess Sorga Recurring Does not appear
Corrado Invernizzi Maffeo Polo Recurring Does not appear
Baljinnyamyn Amarsaikhan Ariq Böke Recurring Does not appear
Jason Chong General Kasar Does not appear Recurring
Daniel Tuiara Sukh Does not appear Recurring

+ Luthi portrays Ling Ling in season 1, Chew in season 2.


The series was originally developed at Starz, which had picked up the series in January 2012.[6] After attempts to film in China failed, the project was released back to The Weinstein Company.[3] Netflix then picked up the series for a 10-episode season, for approximately $90 million, making it one of the most expensive TV shows in the world, second to Game of Thrones.[7][8] The project was officially announced at Netflix in January 2014. Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg serve as executive producers and directed the pilot and second episodes, "The Wayfarer" and "The Wolf and the Deer", respectively.[9] The series was filmed in Italy, Kazakhstan, and at Pinewood Studios in Malaysia.[9]

Stuntman Ju Kun was working on the show alongside fight choreographer Brett Chan, but went missing with the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 during pre-production.[10]

To prepare for her role as Chabi, Joan Chen read the book The Secret History of the Mongol Queens by Jack Weatherford, as she wanted her performance to reflect the culture of the time period.[11]

During his extensive research, show creator John Fusco traveled the Silk Road by horseback and also crossed the Ming Sha Dunes of Western China on camel. In Venice, Italy he sought out and studied the Last Will and Testament of Marco Polo.[12] While some Mongolian viewers and experts view it as "riddled with historical errors", many have praised the series. Orgil Narangerel, who played Genghis Khan in a BBC documentary, said it was more accurate than any previous foreign portrayal of Mongolian culture. "As a Mongol and an artist, Marco Polo makes me feel like our dreams are coming true," he told AFP. "I watched all 10 episodes in just one day."[13]


The series featured music by Mongolian bands Altan Urag and Batzorig Vaanchig of Asia's Got Talent, who cameoed as a singer. Daniele Luppi composed the main theme, whilst Peter Nashel and Eric V. Hachikian are composers of the original score.


Season 1[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original release date
1 1 "The Wayfarer" Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg John Fusco December 12, 2014 (2014-12-12)
After three years crossing seas, deserts and the Silk Road, a young Marco Polo finds himself a prisoner of the great Kublai Khan.
2 2 "The Wolf and the Deer" Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg John Fusco December 12, 2014 (2014-12-12)
As Kublai Khan battles his warmonger brother for rule over Mongolia, Marco learns that justice in Khan's Imperial City is swift as it is deadly.
3 3 "Feast" Alik Sakharov Michael Chernuchin December 12, 2014 (2014-12-12)
Marco begins a dangerous relationship with the beautiful Blue Princess as tensions grow between Kublai and Xiangyang's cunning Chancellor.
4 4 "The Fourth Step" Alik Sakharov Brett Conrad December 12, 2014 (2014-12-12)
As war looms with the walled city of Xiangyang, Prince Jingim tests his diplomacy skills while Kublai questions Marco's allegiance.
5 5 "Hashshashin" Daniel Minahan Patrick Macmanus December 12, 2014 (2014-12-12)
Marco searches for the mastermind behind a murderous plot, while Prince Jingim weighs the risks of retaliation.
6 6 "White Moon" Daniel Minahan Dave Erickson December 12, 2014 (2014-12-12)
On the eve of an auspicious ceremony, Marco searches for the culprit behind the assassination attempted on Kublai Khan, even as a new one takes shape.
7 7 "The Scholar's Pen" David Petrarca Michael Chernuchin December 12, 2014 (2014-12-12)
Marco and Hundred Eyes take on a dangerous mission to infiltrate the walled city of Xiangyang, while its Chancellor struggles to hold on to power.
8 8 "Rendering" John Maybury Brett Conrad December 12, 2014 (2014-12-12)
When Kublai sets his sights — and his army — on the taking of the walled city of Xiangyang, Marco's allegiance is tested.
9 9 "Prisoners" David Petrarca Patrick Macmanus December 12, 2014 (2014-12-12)
Marco finds his fate in the hands of Kublai yet again. Meanwhile, behind the walls of Xiangyang, Chancellor Sidao sets his sights on regaining power.
10 10 "The Heavenly and Primal" John Maybury John Fusco December 12, 2014 (2014-12-12)
Marco's ingenuity — and loyalty — is put to the ultimate test when Kublai takes a violent and bold step in his quest to become emperor of the world.

Christmas special[edit]

Title Directed by Written by Original release date
11 "One Hundred Eyes" Alik Sakharov John Fusco December 26, 2015 (2015-12-26)
A 30-minute origin story of Hundred Eyes, in which a defiant warrior-monk arrives at Kublai Khan's court in chains and earns his nickname.

Season 2[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original release date
12 1 "Hunter and the Sable Weaver" Daniel Minahan John Fusco July 1, 2016 (2016-07-01)
On Prince Jingim's wedding day, Kublai receives disturbing news about the ambitions of his cousin, while Marco navigates a delicate mission.
13 2 "Hug" David Petrarca Patrick Macmanus July 1, 2016 (2016-07-01)
Marco gets an unpleasant surprise upon return to Kublai's court. Kublai faces an impossibly difficult decision.
14 3 "Measure Against the Linchpin" Daniel Minahan Elizabeth Sarnoff July 1, 2016 (2016-07-01)
Haunted by recent events, Kublai journeys with Marco into the mountains for answers. Empress Chabi takes action to insure an heir to the khan.
15 4 "Let God’s Work Begin" David Petrarca Kate Barnow July 1, 2016 (2016-07-01)
The Challenge for the throne escalates when two of Kublai's sons are endangered. From far away in Acre, the Holy Land, another threat to the Khan is born.
16 5 "Lullaby" Jon Amiel Bruce Marshall Romans July 1, 2016 (2016-07-01)
Rebel attacks flare up in the south and pull Kublai's attention away from home. Kokachin gets an unwelcome visitor from her past.
17 6 "Serpent’s Terms" Jon Amiel Noelle Valdivia July 1, 2016 (2016-07-01)
Ahmed's deadly and secret chess match against Kublai enters its endgame, even as Kublai's thirst for power grows stronger than ever.
18 7 "Lost Crane" Alik Sakharov Matthew White July 1, 2016 (2016-07-01)
Kaidu's ruthlessness reaches new levels in his bid for power, while Hundred Eyes' former lover has him questioning his loyalties.
19 8 "Whitehorse" James McTeigue Elizabeth Sarnoff & Patrick Macmanus July 1, 2016 (2016-07-01)
Marco's allegiance to Kublai is tested like never before. Mei Lin's bold move throws Ahmed's plans into chaos.
20 9 "Heirs" James McTeigue Kate Barnow July 1, 2016 (2016-07-01)
Marco's past with Kokachin resurfaces. Kublai's position as Khan faces a final challenge, even as he welcomes a new heir into the world.
21 10 "The Fellowship" Alik Sakharov Elizabeth Sarnoff & Patrick Macmanus July 1, 2016 (2016-07-01)
The day of the Kurultai arrives, shaping Kublai's fate as Khan. Ahmed makes his final stand, and Marco learns a terrible truth.


The first season of Marco Polo was met with negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season holds a rating of 24%, based on 33 reviews, with a rating average of 4.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "An all-around disappointment, Marco Polo is less entertaining than a round of the game that shares its name."[14] On Metacritic, the show's first season has a score of 48 out of 100 based on 21 reviews by critics, indicating "mixed reviews".[15]

In his review for Entertainment Weekly, Jeff Jensen gave the first season a "B−" rating, calling the premise "stale", but added "Somewhere in the middle of episode 2, though, Marco Polo becomes surprisingly watchable. The filmmaking becomes bolder."[16] Writing for People, Tom Gliatto praised the series, calling it "...a fun, body-flinging, old-fashioned epic".[17] USA Today reviewer Robert Bianco gave the series 1​12 stars out of 4, saying, "Clearly what Netflix hopes you'll see a [sic] big-bucks, prestige entertainment along the lines of that HBO fantasy epic, but in truth, Marco is far closer to one of those cheesy international syndicated adventures."[18]

In 2015, the President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj presented John Fusco and the Marco Polo creative team with an award, honoring their positive portrayal and global presentation of Mongolian subject matter.[19] Fusco, himself, has described the series as historical fiction, based on the accounts of the Venetian traveler Marco Polo.[20]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2015 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music Daniele Luppi Nominated
Hollywood Music in Media Awards Best Main Title – TV Show/Digital Series Daniele Luppi Nominated
Australian Production Design Guild Awards Set Decoration on a Television Drama Christian Petersen Won
SXSW Film Festival Excellence in Title Design Nominated
2016 American Society of Cinematographers Awards Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Regular Series Vanja Cernjul Won
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Television Movie/Mini-Series/Pilot Romain Lacourbas Nominated
2017 Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing – Short Form Sound Effects and Foley in Television Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Marco Polo TV series finishes shooting in Slovakia". The Slovak Spectator. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  2. ^ "Netflix's 'Marco Polo' Sets December Premiere Date". August 28, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Netflix's 'Marco Polo' Sets Its Cast". The Hollywood Reporter. April 8, 2014. Retrieved April 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ Fowle, Kyle (July 1, 2016). "A mega Marco Polo recap: Let's talk about all of season 2". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 6 July 2016. 
  5. ^ "'Marco Polo' Canceled at Netflix After Two Seasons". Retrieved 13 December 2016. 
  6. ^ Villareal, Yvonne (13 January 2012). "Marco Polo to get the Starz treatment with new original series". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Weinstein Company, Seeking Hits, Shifts to TV". 25 November 2013 – via The New York Times. 
  8. ^ "Netflix Is Creating One Of The Most Expensive TV Shows In The World — Here's Why It's So Important". Business Insider. Retrieved 2016-01-07. 
  9. ^ a b "It's Official: Netflix Orders Series 'Marco Polo' From Weinstein Co". January 14, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Malaysia Airlines MH370 passengers include stuntman, honeymooners". 7 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Mike Ayers. "Inside 'Marco Polo,' Netflix's $90 Million Epic". WSJ. 
  12. ^ "Riding the Silk Road". Traveller. Retrieved 2016-04-12. 
  13. ^ "Netflix Marco Polo Series 'Riddled With Historical Errors'". January 29, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2016. 
  14. ^ "MARCO POLO: SEASON 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Marco Polo (2014) : Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  16. ^ Jensen, Jeff (January 7, 2015). "Marco Polo Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  17. ^ Gliatto, Tom (December 12, 2014). "Netflix's Fun New Marco Polo Is All About the Wrath of Kublai Khan". Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  18. ^ Bianco, Robert (December 12, 2014). "'Marco Polo' gets lost on the Silk Road to nowhere". USA Today. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  19. ^ Newbould, Chris (28 June 2016). "New season of Marco Polo to reveal the dark side of characters, says actor Lorenzo Richelmy". The National. Retrieved 4 June 2017. 
  20. ^ Makinen, Julie (19 September 2014). "'Marco Polo' brings the court of Kublai Khan to Netflix". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 June 2017. 
  21. ^ "Creative Arts Emmys: The Complete Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. September 12, 2015. Archived from the original on September 21, 2015. Retrieved September 21, 2015. 
  22. ^

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