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Review – Spartacus: Blood And Sand

January 31, 2010

Spartacus: Blood And Sand – Starz – 10:00pm Friday – USA

Spartacus: Blood And Sand is a new series from Starz, the network that brought us the hilarious Party Down and the much less hilarious Crash based on the obnoxious movie of the same name. Seeing as though those two shows cancel each other out Starz reputation can start from scratch and use Spartacus to pry itself up into the big leagues of cable alongside FX, AMC, Showtime and HBO.

If you’ve happened to catch any of the promos for Spartacus you’ll have seen a show desperate to be 300: The TV Series. A show that seems to offer a sexy, action packed, adult historical epic. However instead of that show the producers have decided to treat us to Legend Of The Seeker in sandals with blood and the F word sprayed about.

Spartacus: Blood And Sand (don’t forget the Blood and Sand those are the two most important ingredients) opens with some dodgy CGI and a bloody gladiator battle. This isn’t where the story’s going to start mind you. This is just to let all of you ADD sufferers know that there will be blood spraying about later on because we’ve got to flashback to some earlier scenes, and gosh we hope you don’t get too bored because there’s going to be a lot of talking and with a lot of talking comes a lot of really naff dialogue.

“He speaks out of turn, but the truth falls from his mouth.” And “Then my boot will find your ass in the afterlife.” Are just two of the snappy lines of dialogue these poor actors have to get their mouths around. The story goes that a long haired Spartacus and his fellow tribesmen agree to join the Roman army to help them fight some random invaders. Naturally the Romans betray them and Spartacus’s wife is dragged away. He of course has to vow revenge and blah blah blah he ends up as a slave and then a gladiator.

The gladiator side of things is treated like some kind of Ancient Roman WWE tournament with various gladiator runners parading their shiny chested champions to the emperor and then later to the screaming crowds. Naturally our man Spartacus is the most amazing gladiator to have ever slipped into a sandal. As played by Andy Whitfield (who appeared as Nick in one episode of Packed To The Rafters) Spartacus is all furrowed brows and mumbled sentences. He’s a very serious lad made to seem completely ridiculous by the over the top nature of everything spiralling around him.

There is nothing subtle about Spartacus: Blood And Sand; from the copious amounts of blood spilled to the amount of scenery that gets chewed by the actors to the clunky ham-fisted dialogue. The cast includes John Hannah and Lucy Lawless doing a second rate Attia of the Julii impression. They try their best but along with everybody else the performances tend range from mediocre to downright unwatchable. Especially Kiwi actor Craig Parker (of course he was on Shortland Street, did you really have to ask?) who is horrible as evil Roman Legatus.

The second episode doesn’t fair much better as it offers more blood, more tits, more swears, more unnecessary slow mo, and more daffy overly serious dialogue such as “When you regain your strength we’ll revisit that remark.” And my personal favourite “You have no mother; you were belched from the cunt of the underworld.”

Spartacus is all flash and no substance, and even the flash isn’t all that flashy. The whole exercise is all just kind of silly and Spartacus makes things abundantly clear that this is not the second coming of the sometimes great HBO series Rome. This is highly stylized bullshit that’s part Gladiator, part 300, and part Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. There are only two sorts of people who are going to enjoy Spartacus: Blood And Sand. You’re either a fifteen year old boy who can’t get enough of boobs and mindless violence, or you’re the sort of person who felt that 300 just needed more homoerotic moments and laughable sex scenes. As for the rest of us we can just sit this one out.

Good, Alright, Bad Or Ugly?
Bad

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    March 2, 2011 1:47 pm

    And in retrospect, how wrong you were about this show… It’s one of the best, along with its prequel Gods of the Arena.

    • pdjones permalink*
      March 2, 2011 8:54 pm

      Not completely wrong, the first episode did suck. Haha. But check out my Gods Of The Arena review for what amounts to a full retraction of these comments.

  2. Jamie Rees permalink
    August 27, 2012 2:43 pm

    Hey pd, i do enjoy your reviews and your general snarky nature about our nation’s wanting TV industry. I do agree at a cursory glance Spartacus does seem to be flashy gory bullshit but as the series progressed, it became one of my favourite show and with the all the blood, sweat and heartache this series has gone through, i cant help but defend this series vociferously. You found it’s quality in Gods of the Arena and it was entertaining in Vengeance, even without Andy Whitfield’s presence. Thank you for seeing the quality beneath the blood, profanity and arse.

    • pdjones permalink*
      August 27, 2012 10:04 pm

      I definitely came around full circle of Spartacus after a shaky start with the series. I think it’s great.

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