First Impressions: Spartacus: Blood and Sand
“You liked 300, right? Well you’ll probably like Spartacus. It’s like the 300 and Gladiator with lots and lots of sex.”
That was the text message that had me downloading the first season of Spartacus onto my iPad the following day.
The premises of the show; a Thracian warrior is condemned to die in the gladiator arena after his village is destroyed and his wife sold into slavery. The warrior, against all odds, survives and is sent to a ludus in Capua for professional training as a gladiator and is named Spartacus. Initially, he’s defiant and not as great of a fighter as he thought much to the dismay of his owner Batiatus. Batiatus paid an unusually high amount of coin for Spartacus, and in order to sway his attitude, promises to reunite Spartacus with his wife if he becomes a great gladiator.
The visual style of the show is very over-the-top. The slow motion capture as people land attacks is very 300-esque, with crazy amounts of blood splattering the screen with or without accompanying body parts. It’s cringe-worthy, but in a good way if that’s your thing. I guess it’s my thing.
Spartacus depicts quite a bit of nudity and a variety of sexual relations in effort to portray a historical ancient Roman society. Naked people? Sex? Same-sex relations? Don’t even bother raising an eye-brow. It’s refreshing and I love it. I have to admit that whenever I saw a penis on television I screamed something along the lines of “oh my god, peen!” because it’s such a rare occurrence in comparison to showing women nude. Not so much in Spartacus. In fact, I’ve become so nonchalant when it comes to penises, breasts, butts, sex, and orgies. Ancient Rome seemed like a pretty cool place outside of the drought, slavery and murder bits.
Oh, and did I mention Lucy Lawless (Xena, hello!) plays one of the main characters in Blood in the Sand? That woman is a goddess. She’s still badass, just not in a warrior princess sort of way. Her character is politically and socially clever, and easily one of my favourites.
Spartacus: Blood and Sand, a Starz original, is the first season. A second season was delayed because the lead actor Andy Whitfield, who played Spartacus himself, was diagnosed with early-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Starz then produced a six-episode prequel mini-series entitled Spartacus: Gods of the Arena while the actor underwent treatment. When Whitfield’s cancer recurred and he later died, Liam McIntyre was cast to take on the role of Spartacus in the second season titled Spartacus: Vengeance. The third and final season is titled Spartacus: War of the Damned.
Entertaining action-drama with a smidgeon of romance and a ton of political intrigue. Nonchalant penis.