Friday, January 28, 2011

Spartacus: Blood and Sand (season one review)

 Spartacus: Blood and Sand
It is bloody, loud, and very entertaining.
Spartacus is one of those TV shows that starts out extremely bad and uneven, but gets progressively better after each episode. Instead of relying on a lot of CGI blood and slow motion, the show started to focus on the characters and the political stuff more.  And, that is when the acting and writing started to get better as well. 
The show is full of nudity, blood and gore.  The show seems to marvel in the sin in same manner as the other Roman-based show Rome.  Every noble born character seems to live in excess and give nothing to lower classes and the slaves.  There are a few times when the excessive cruelty from the noble class felt a bit forced to get a point across.  However, Roman culture is very brutal and revenge driven.  I enjoyed all the backstabbing plots and betrayals that ran throughout the season.  Knowing a little bit history of the time period, we will probably see more of an action centered 2nd season. 
So, how is the acting?  For the most, the acting is top-notch.  The classically trained actors from Rome stand out more than Spartacus.  However, the acting is still superb from most of the cast.    
There are four names within the cast that need to be noted.  Andy Whitfield as Spartacus is spot on as the lead character centered on the show.  John Hannah, from the Mummy series, is really outstanding as the slave master/gladiator owner Batiatus.  Hannah doesn’t look the part of a total asshole, but you will be convinced by the middle of the series.  Hannah deserves an award for his role. 
Lucy Lawless plays the spoiled and vindictive wife of Batiatus.  Lawless’s character is such a departure from the Xena that you will have to give props to her performance.  Did I also mention that Lawless has never been sexier than in this show, and you will see her nude a lot…and I mean a lot?   Peter Mensah plays the trainer of the gladiators.  He really brings out the honorable warrior side of a character in world where honor isn’t as important as getting rich and famous. 
As I sated before, the show grew in quality when it started to move away from 300 and more toward the character and political roots of Rome.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of 300, and the first two episodes of the series seemed to be influence too heavily from the worst parts of that movie, and I almost gave up on the show.  However, I stayed with the show and it got progressively better with the acting and storylines that moved throughout the season.
The season ends with a bang too.  The action scenes in that last episode are violent and spectacular at the same time.  We see everything that the writers have built up come to a head full of murder and action.  And, this season end payoff is the reason to stick through the uneven first few episodes.  This is sign of good writing when the writers actually change over the course of the show from being okay to making it a wonderfully pleasing show.
Spartacus Blood and Sand will not be for everyone.  The violence and gore is extremely graphic and extensive.   And, the violence isn’t only centered on the men in the arena, but young children and women will also see edge of someone’s blade.  In addition, there are numerous scenes of sex and nudity.  But, if you watched the entire series of Rome, you should be use to it now. 
Spartacus is one of those rear shows that reward you for sticking with the show.
Grade: B+

Spartacus:  Does the training videos have to be Gladiator or 300? : 

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