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TV Review: SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND Starring Andy Whitfield

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

As you know there really is not much on TV right now, of late I have been filling in my time with box sets such as Dexter seasons one and two as well as the same from Breaking Bad, on a weekly basis I’m watching only Falling Skies season 2 and have decided to keep two more seasons of Dexter and Breaking Bad until they have wrapped for their upcoming seventh and fifth seasons respectively. I got home from work late to yet again nothing on TV and decided to turn to a DVD box set which I’ve had sitting for quite some time now, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, earlier in the year I watched Spartacus: Vengeance which quickly became my favorite show on TV all be it a different actor playing Spartacus. After one episode of Blood and Sand I was hooked on what turned out to be an ultra violent show with blood and gore a plenty.
I think too many people took this show a little too seriously, it is what it is really. Fair enough it’s not exactly historically correct (or so I’ve been told) but I didn’t really care, there was enough in storyline, acting ability, sex, and of course out and out violence to more than keep my interest. This opening season sees the rise of Spartacus a Thracian persuaded to join the Roman auxiliary to fight the Gatae by Legatos Claudius Glaber, however Glaber goes back on his word and switches his interest to the Mithridates in order to gain higher standing with the Roman Senate, it’s a move which the Thracian’s don’t take kindly and a soldier with no name is condemned to death in a Gladiator ring whilst his wife Sura is sold into slavery. The soldier refuses to be defeated and kills the four Gladiators sent to execute him becoming a favorite of the Capua crowd, he is sold to Batiatus (John Hannah) and begins life as the most famous Gladiator of them all, Spartacus.
I didn’t really know anything about the actors involved in Spartacus before I started watching but they very quickly get your attention here, whether that’s because of all the naked scenes or just the brilliant blood thirsty violence that’s on display I’m not sure but Spartacus himself, the late Andy Whitfield did put in a brilliant performance as the Thracian warrior and added real believability to his character, Andy actually picked Liam McIntyre to be his replacement in the latest season of the show. Also putting in the other noteworthy performance was British actor John Hannah, who plays Batiatus, the dominoes of the house, dropping F-bombs as there often called on the Internet Hannah puts Batiatus across brilliantly as the power crazy Dominoes wanting to better himself in politics and become the Magistrate with one eye firmly on Rome, his ruthlessness is brutal for such a little guy it’s often hard to believe that the physically superior Gladiator’s didn’t jump him before Spartacus encouraged them too, the reason? Before Spartacus all Gladiators in the house were fighting to take the crown of champion of Capua, a most prestigious award and one that could elevate their status in the house of Batiatus and even win them their freedom.
Crixus (Manu Bennett) is the champion of Capua throughout most of this season, mostly due to the fact that it’s a title that does not interest Spartacus, his only concern is that of his wife Sura and her safe return. Once given the encouragement of course Spartacus takes the mantle defeating one of Capua’s most feared Gladiators and the man who even defeated Doctore (Peter Mensah), Spartacus takes the crown and so continues the bickering between he and Crixus. I don’t want to go into to much story, obviously that will give the game away if you haven’t seen the show but its also available in history (on Wikipedia) as the show does follow the journey of Spartacus, this is the beginning and the story behind why he lead such a massive and successful slave rebellion during a time when the Romans reigned supreme.
I often wonder when watching shows and movies like Spartacus, Gladiator, Rome and 300 if things really were that brutal back then, they certainly lived in a very harsh environment and I suppose the shows and movies are based on real life events so it must have been as bad if not worse for people in slavery, or those who lived free lives but did not have a high standing within the Roman government, it seems if you lived in Rome you were wealthy, if you were a Dominoes you had high standing, if you were a Magistrate same goes, these people were untouchable and free to do as they pleased regardless of repercussions on those of a lesser standing.
Spartacus: Blood and Sand may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I certainly enjoyed it as I did with Vengeance and God’s of the Arena. For me this is a show where you can simply sit back, relax and enjoy the excitement on the screen as the back stabbing on all levels builds to one brilliant finale where Spartacus does exactly as instructed by his wife, kills them all.
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