In the new series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” the Starz channel is clearly trying to raise the bar of its programming to the level of HBO’s “Rome” or Showtime’s “The Tudors,” and in many ways they have succeeded.
The writers have taken historical license with the tale of Spartacus, but who really cares: Oliver Stone does it all the time. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the tale, Spartacus (played by Andy Whitfield), who lived one hundred years before Christ, revolts against the Romans during battle and ends up an enemy of the empire. After he is captured, he is sent to the arena for certain death but somehow manages to emerge after killing four gladiators. After the spectacle, Spartacus achieves hero status and is sent to the ludus (gladiator training school) run by Batiatus (played by John Hannah). Spartacus’ only reason to live is to be reunited with his wife, so he perfects his gladiator skills in an attempt to survive. There you have in a nutshell.
If you can withstand the blood splattering, sex, and cussing that is done in graphic novel imaging similar to the movie “300”, there is actually a plethora of intrigue and deceit going on that would make Tony Soprano proud.
I have to be honest and admit that I almost turned it off after the first two episodes but somehow I managed to survive without blowing chow (I felt that if I wanted to see a no-brain blood spill I could have a Tarantino-fest). After a while you will become desensitized to the blood flow and focus more on the characters attempts to betray each other and this is really the crux of the story.
The first 13 episodes of Spartacus are now available at Blockbuster.
Let the games begin!