Spartacus - Blood and Sand

DIrishB

The Timeline Guy
I bought the first season DVD of this Starz show a few weeks ago.

I'd seen commercials of this show for the past year and been mildly interested, but withheld watching or downloading them mainly because it seemed like a show that was aimed at style over substance, in addition to the fact I've never been a fan of Raimi (barring the Evil Dead films, but I liked those more for Bruce Campbell's performance than for Raimi's direction).

Anyway, I started watching the show and while watching the first episode I feared I'd been right about the style over substance assumption.

After watching a few more episodes I began to be pleasantly surprised by the show. Its ultra-violent, and definitly graphic in everthing from its violence to nudity (full frontal female and male nudity is no stranger here), but there's more going on too. The graphicness is intentional and has its purpose, I'm just not sure if its being pulled off as well as the producers intended.

Whitfield's performance as Spartacus is notable. He brings an unexpected depth to the role off the bat, and as the series progress he grows into the role more and more. The same can be said of most of the characters: John Hannah's Batiatus is fun to watch, and Crixus went from a character I couldn't care less about to one I found had more dimensions I gave him credit for. Peter Mensah's Doctore/Oenomaus is also someone I look forward to seeing more of in Season 2 as he becomes one of Spartacus' generals (along with Crixus). Lucy Lawless kind of annoys me and always has, but she's starting to grow on me. Most of the secondary characters are also likeable and intriguing.

The first season covers Spartacus' fall from a Thracian soldier as a member of a Roman Auxillary Legion, who defies his Legatus when told to march away from his home (which was in peril from roving bands of Getae, a warring tribe), and as a result is forced to execution in the Gladiatorial Arena while his wife Sura is sold into slavery. He defies the odds (4 on 1) and wins the crowd, and begins training (against his will initially) at Batiatus' ludus (a gladiatorial training school) under Doctore. The story goes on from there, culminating in Spartacus' slave rebellion in the series' finale, from which the delayed second season will continue.


Whitfield unfortunately won't be back for the second season--it was recently announced he won't return for the second season as Spartacus and the role will have to be re-cast due to the return of Whitfield's non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and him having to undergo aggressive treatment. Credit to Starz for holding off as long as they did in re-casting in hopes Whitfield could return, even going so far as to film a 6 episode prequel (which airs in January, 2011) to delay the production of Season 2 (which as it stands now should return in September, 2011 with the role re-cast).

Anyway, if anyone else has seen it, I'd be interested in your thoughts. Its not a phenomenal show or anything, but its become a guilty pleasure for me, and I look forward to its return.
 

nigma

Well-Known Member
DIrishB said:
After watching a few more episodes I began to be pleasantly surprised by the show. Its ultra-violent, and definitly graphic in everthing from its violence to nudity (full frontal female and male nudity is no stranger here), but there's more going on too. The graphicness is intentional and has its purpose, I'm just not sure if its being pulled off as well as the producers intended.

what dont i watch?

The nudity was overused in this show, unlike HBO where most of it is in passing. here its used each and every episode. like, "hey, lets see if we can get away with having sex in each episode, we wont call it ****, AND we'll do it in slow motion". I stopped watching the show. it was just too much. Didn't care for most of the actors. the slow motion graphics got very repetitive. and the story line was.....ehhh.

the only good part of the show was Peter Mensah the trainer known as Doctore. he was the most believable person in the whole show.

and the last episode i watched was where his wife got killed.
 

Planet-man

Well-Known Member
I watched the first episode a few days ago. It was depressing. All the gore and lewdness of Rome without any of the deep complexity and commitment to detail that complemented those things and made it a masterpiece. They're very obviously using just enough political stuff and romantic tension to get them from one pointless blood-spurting or t**-sucking setpiece to the next. I wouldn't watch the second episode.

I've read a fair amount about it getting better later into the season but I don't feel like putting up the effort to get there. It just seems like it will always feel like a poor, more vapid person's version of Rome, even if just because of the endless greenscreening instead of incredible sets that made you feel like you'd traveled back in time for an hour every time you watched it. The news about the delay and upcoming main-actor-change further quells enthusiasm. I feel really sorry for Andy Whitfield. That's gotta be devastating.
 

DIrishB

The Timeline Guy
Thats kind of what I'm enjoying about it...Its Rome-Ultra-Light in terms of worthwhile story, which means I can turn off my mind and just watch the visceral action. After watcing shows like Lost, Deadwood, Rome, Sopranos, Dexter, etc, its just a nice change of pace. Sometimes its nice to be shallow.

Like I said, its a guilty pleasure, and it does get better as the show goes on. I'm not defending it, just stating my opinion of it.


what dont i watch?

Um, I don't know. Should I know the answer?
 
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nigma

Well-Known Member
Like I said, its a guilty pleasure, and it does get better as the show goes on. I'm not defending it, just stating my opinion of it.

The show itself gained a pretty strong following towards the 2nd half of 1st season.

Um, I don't know. Should I know the answer?

if you look through the TV section there are very few shows I havn't commented on, it was meant to be a rhetorical-ish question.
 

DIrishB

The Timeline Guy
The show itself gained a pretty strong following towards the 2nd half of 1st season.

Granted, a lot of those fans are 12 year old boys just looking forward to the next nude scene, but there actually is something worthwhile about this show.

I watched an episode last night called "Party Favors", in which Spartacus and Crixus (Spartacus' main competition in the luda) were set to fight an exhibition match at the coming of age birthday party for the son of a senator. Illythia, the wife of the Roman general that Spartacus' shamed (which led to his enslavement) instead seduces said 15 year old boy into instead having Spartacus fight Varro, Spartacus' best friend. The match is uneventful, and Spartacus eventually bests Varro, and awaits the boy's call on life or death. Since it was an exhibition match its understood the loser wouldn't be killed, but the boy calls for Varro's death anyway (due to Illythia's manipulations). Spartacus is forced either to kill his best friend or both be killed, so he kills Varro after promising to look out for his family.

Nothing extremely complex or deep in itself, but after going back and re-watching the episode, there was some pretty nifty foreshadowing to Varro's death I never saw coming, and the acting and emotion was pretty well handled.

All I'm saying is I think it has some promise, and there was a definite improvement between the first and second halves of the season.

Its no Alan Moore or David Lynch, but hopefully it continues the trend of "getting smarter".

Besides, its burly guys beating each other with swords, so I'm sold just on that. I guess I'm easy.

if you look through the TV section there are very few shows I havn't commented on, it was meant to be a rhetorical-ish question.

Ah, I got you. Sorry.
 
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