This. Is. Sparta(cus)

5 02 2011

Hello. Yes, it has been a while. Usual excuses abound of course – festive season, work and other ongoings, coupled with a sense that really, very little of import in my world has occurred of late that I reckon other folks’d be much interested in.  But ultimately : yep. I’ve just been really  lazy. Much easier to read other blogs (oh, and tweets – theres another excuse) than bother with my own. And what is one to blog about? Sheesh, TV programs… ?     Well, funny you should ask…

Don’t watch a lot of broadcast TV, other than ABC/SBS news, even with Foxtel in the house. Give me a movie or even a decent series on disc that I can watch at my own leisure, uninterrupted by ads, and yes, even better in nice bluray clarity and surround sound, and I’m happy. With movies, and miniseries, I tend to be reasonably picky, only watching those that hold a substantial attraction and/or have piqued my interest, perhaps through recommendation, subject matter or a promise of stylised violence to rival no other – hey, I never said I wasn’t also shallow – enter Spartacus, Blood & Sand. JB made brief mention of it over at the Burger last year, so when I was asked what I wanted for Christmas, it seemed like a logical choice.  Best. Series. Ever.

Spartacus, Blood & Sand is a 13 part series detailing the rise of the legendary Spartacus, who lead his fellow gladiators/slaves in revolt against the mighty republic of Rome beginning in 73BC.  No history-channel documentary  this, artistic license is a given of course, but many of the principal characters are named and based on their respective historical namesakes.

What Spartacus does so well is epitomise the genre of Action-Drama series like very few before. Although the emphasis weighs heavily on the side of action, what I was really surprised with was the drama, both in and out of the gladiator ring, the clever casting and portrayals by all the actors involved, the often-clever dialogue and cracking narrative. The 13 episode length was just right to hook you into the characters and storyline without bogging down into un-necessary episodes and minor story arcs like so many longer winded series can.

Some faces in the cast will be familiar, although Andy Whitfield who played Spartacus was an unknown to me. John Hannah as Quintus, the lanista (gladiator owner) and master of Spartacus, Lucy Lawless (yes, of  Xena and BSG fame) as his scheming wife Lucretia, and Peter Mensah as Doctore, trainer of all Quintus’  fighters all bring impressive credentials and gravitas to their roles.

Andy Whitfield also does a first rate job as Spartacus, anchoring our attention to the man who is forced to fight under the false impression that he may live to see his wife Sura, captured and sold-into-slavery, once again.

But yes, the fighting does feature stronly. And it is a very adult series, to say the least. The censors label on the cover reads like a must-have in the type of shows many of us are drawn to : “Extreme violence, blood and gore, sex scenes and nudity”. Can’t ask for much more than that, surely? And plenty of all of the above abounds in each episode, and some of the more creative profanity you’ll likely hear on the screen too. Filmed entirely in-studio, in New Zealand (no wonder Its Good!), the visuals are very much of the 300 variety, with lashings of fake blood and guts, and plenty of Roman-era raunch and debauchery. Plenty of eye-candy for both sides, or so the better half insinuates…

There is a new prequel series just begun showing overseas, featuring many of the original cast, only without the character of Spartacus, and later in the year filming should begin on Spartacus Season 2. Sadly, this is unlikely to feature Andy Whitfield in the title role again as he is currently battling a recurrent round of cancer.

So, yes, if any of the above sounds like it may be your thing, check it out. You won’t be disappointed.




3 responses

6 02 2011

Great show, still not sure about dual swords though.

7 02 2011

Hey Mr B, good point, maybe if you were ambidextrous and very confident… ?

19 02 2011

It’s more in that era you used a shield so who trains and develops the techniques? Then as each sword is the same length to attack with both/either you have to square off presenting a larger target to defend. If the second weapon is smaller (like a main gauche ie parrying dagger) you can present your side and have a light quick weapon for defence in close.

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