Spartacus : Gods of the arena dir. by

23 March 2011

Genre: ,
Cast: , , , , , , ,
Setting: ,
Rated :

First things first, this is an awesome show. Awesome! Anyone who says different is just plain wrong!

When I first started watching Spartacus : Blood and Sand I have to say that I wasn’t overly impressed. Obviously influenced by the style and look of 300 it seemed to be a show that existed only to show glossy violence and sex. And boy did it ever show that. But after the first few episodes it developed into a very enjoyable, almost addictive, show. But then its star was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and so film making was delayed as he underwent treatment. And so instead of a second season we got a prequel. Spartacus : gods of the arena. Don’t be fooled by that name in the title, this has no Spartacus as all, instead it tells the story of how John Hannah’s Lentulus Batiatus comes to run the family ludus, and how Crixus becomes a gladiator.


And yes, there is excessive blood shed and violence. And tits and cock are almost constantly on show. But once you get used to that you can ignore it and if you do you’ll come to realise how enjoyable and entertaining this show is. The dialogue is wonderful, pseudo-shakespearean in style it really gives the show a different feel to any other on the telly. There are only six episodes, so I flew through the series. Thank you TV3 and series-link on the UPC.

But the real attraction is the characters. Which is almost a strange thing to say about a show I started watching just to see how bad it would be. And yes, during the early days of season one there were a bit too many echoes of other much loved shows, Rome being among the obvious to compare it with. But pretty soon that season came into its own, and this prequel hit the ground running. The scheming of the Batiatuses begins here, and this offers a huge amount to explain their later ruthless behaviour. Of course, both are hardly angels here, but both Lawless and Hannah seem to be really enjoying these characters, and that sense of glee really does come across. Not only that, but the gladiators, many of whom were probably cast on account of abs & muscles are all great. I particularly enjoyed seeing Crixus start out life as a lowly slave. And the origins of Asher too are revealed.

If you haven’t seen this show you really should. Your life is not complete without it! Honest! ;)

    Episode list

  1. Past Transgressions
  2. Missio
  3. Paterfamilias
  4. Beneath the Mask
  5. Reckoning
  6. The Bitter End

Other reviews: Lord of the films ; Episode recaps from Hey don’t judge me ; Unreality mag

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6 Responses

  1. Harlequin says:

    I've got all these stacked up and waiting to watch but just haven't gotten round to it yet. I loved Blood and Sand and it's absolutely rotten they've had to recast Spartacus – it just won't be the same without Andy Whitfield, poor fella. :-( More Asher is not what I want to see though – that total and complete bastard! Right up there with the little fucker who gave poor Varro the thumbs down.

  2. Caroline says:

    I think I saw the very first episode and thought it was too much of a 300 imitation but after reading your review I made up my mind to give it another chance. I like the era. Thanks.
    Caroline´s last blog post ..Halldór Laxness- The Fish Can Sing aka Brekkukotsannáll 1957 An Icelandic Coming-of-Age Tale

  3. Harlequin says:

    That bastard! :-) Speaking of 300, I'm totally intrigued by all the ads for Sucker Punch – OK, so it looks like it's designed for geeks to watch while *ahem* in their bunks, but I just like the look of it. Wonder what his Superman will look like?