Friday, December 3, 2010

Spartacus: Blood and Sand - S1E1 and 2

Starz's pay-cable series, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, is awesome.  Take the bloated Russell Crowe vehicle Gladiator, mix it with Gerard Butler's 300, add a TON more gratuitous nudity and even more heavily-stylized blood splashing across the screen ... and you've got Spartacus: Blood and Sand.  Seriously: the fight scenes are taken right from 300, what with the freeze-frames and the pseudo-motion capture and the gushing blood, and the revenge story is totally taken from Gladiator, except that our hero (played by yummy Welshman Andy Whitfield, now undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma and we wish him wellness) is a Thracian, not a disgraced Roman general.

In the first episode, the Thracians join forces with a Roman legion ostensibly to protect their villages from marauding raiders but when the Romans change their tactics, leaving Thrace vulnerable, the Thracian soldiers desert.  The Romans don't take kindly to that and capture the deserters, ripping them from home and family and forcing them into either slavery or, if they're tough enough, the enforced servitude of gladiatorship.  In the second episode, Spartacus - not his real, Thracian name, but we don't know what that is - learns what it's like to be in a gladiator training house: ugly, brutal and bloody, with multiple glimpses of full-frontal male nudity plus lots of nekkid butts.  Our hero is not inclined to fight, even to save his life, until his new master promises to help him find/rescue his beautiful wife, raped by the Romans and sold into slavery.

Solid female full-frontal nudity, quick and distant male full-montys, lots of boobs, serious sex scenes, sweat and dirt and blood and swear words (who knew the ancient Romans dropped so many f-bombs?) ... this series is hard to take seriously but is a lot of fun to watch if you're in it for the violence and eye candy.  Lucy Lawless, she of Xena and (to a lesser extent) BSG fame, plays the wife of the owner of the gladiators.  She's 42 and flashes a lot of skin - bare boobs and butt - and good for her as she looks great.

Despite being a decent success (word is, it improves as the season continues), S:BaS is in hiatus now, due to its lead actor's cancer.  I've heard both that they may recast the lead or they'll wait and see how his treatment goes.  Frankly, I'd like to see them wait for Andy Whitfield: after two episodes, he's good but not great, but with a twinkle in his eye that promises more, and DANG I approve of the tiny leather loincloth wardrobe has him in.  I'll keep up with these mini-recaps through the season, with more detail now that I've committed to the show.

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