'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' Gratuitous or Just Enough?

‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand’ Gratuitous or Just Enough?

Copyright (c) 2010 Starz

Right off the bat, I should point out that HBO’s Rome was the best TV series ever made. That’s right, ever made. I’m a huge fan of Roman history and mythology.

I was extremely impressed by the creators of HBO’s Rome because they took their accuracy seriously. So seriously in fact that even the craftsmen in the bazaar were actual Roman craftsmen. The money spent to create a truly accurate atmosphere just may have had a tiny bit to do with why it was canceled after 2 seasons.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand, however, doesn’t care nearly as much about history. What it does care about is blood and sand. The title does not disappoint. Within the first episode, I swear, a gladiator spewed gallons of blood on a very sandy plane of death.

A human body holds around 8-10 pints of blood, so it’s quite a feat for a gladiator to expunge even a few gallons. These men must have been built very tough and it seems very liquidity.

While the mono-syllable, shoddy dialogue is straight out of 300 or perhaps G.I. Joe, the view is stunningly breathtaking (for TV).  Spartacus is wholly gratuitous in a cheesecake, soft-core sort of way, but it’s worth noting that it is equally gratuitous. There are plenty of raunchy shows that panhandle to men in the audience with oh-so-classy shots of women come undone. These same shows forget that perhaps some women might be watching.

Here’s the thing, I wake up every morning from my plush bed, walk up to the mirror, and what do I see? Boobs. I see boobs all the time. So when I see them onscreen, I think, eh, no biggie, I got that.  Granted us ladies tend to get reeled in by juicy, romantic plots and witty verbiage to match, but that shouldn’t give shows the ok to write off some fine-looking visuals as well.

This series has a lot of hot gladiators roaming around and occasionally fighting each other. Okay, so they fight each other a lot. They are hot, sweaty, and wear bikinis that do not cover their bare assets.

When I see ALL of the very massive gladiator, Crixus, walking around talking about something masculine (I strangely forgot what he was talking about), I think, finally, here’s a show with some guts. Or should I more aptly say— balls?  So, nicely done Spartacus: Blood and Sand, nicely done.  Did I mention it was shot in a very classy way?  Extremely classy.

Before I go on, I should mention Lucy Lawless has been hiding a bangin’ bod behind that Xena armor. Apparently she is rightly named as the laws of nature do not of apply to her. Her character is fantastically smart, smutty, and definitely saucy.

She works as a team with her barely-making-it-recessionista husband and when he’s not there, well, she just plain works it. What her husband doesn’t know won’t hurt him. She orders the gladiators to get down to some very naughty business just as you or I would order fries with our McNuggets. She doesn’t apologize for it- she simply enjoys it. She has a good life.

Alright, so I guess I should mention Spartacus since this is a series about him. If there were emos in Roman times, Spartacus would be leading the pack. He tears up at every opportune moment and all he thinks about his is precious wife. Granted, I’m being a bit hard on him.

He’s stuck eating small scraps of food, has to work out all day, and is told when and where to fight. Hmmm, sounds a little like Angelina on the set of Tomb Raider. Dude, she could totally take you Spartacus. Actually, Maddox could totally take him.

Is it just me, or do others miss the Spartacus of old who fought for the release of his fellow prisoners, who fought for more than just selfish reasons? There are men and women suffering all around him and all he can think about is his beautiful wife who chooses to wear a torn, shred of a dress while picking fruit during a snowy, winter day. Based on Spartacus’ under-performance in the smarts category, I presume he thought she was positively brilliant.

In reality I suppose a man in that position would probably be dreaming about the same thing. But this isn’t reality, this a 300-esque TV show about a hero’s journey. So, man up Spartacus and quit asking the man in charge to find your wife. Like that’s really at the top of his list.

All in all, Spartacus: Blood and Sand gives the audience exactly what it thinks it wants: blood, sand, bountiful scenes of lust, and tacky dialogue. I will say, though, every episode is better than the last. So stay tuned as life continues to suck for the habitually whining Spartacus and the glorious gladiators all around him.

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  • al
    April 22, 2010 at 12:01 am

    decent review, but i think youre overgeneralizing when you say that Rome’s fall can be attributed to the diefication of its emperors and Amercia’s problems to celebrity worship. I’d say it was even downwright incorrect 😛 The Romans didn’t actually worship their emperors as Gods, they diefied them after they died, if the late emperor was popular enough. New emperors often used this as a ploy to gain the support of the people who liked the old one. It was a bizarre practice and the honor was often bestowed on people who weren’t emperors and for very wierd reasons.

  • erhm
    March 6, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    question: do the fact that 90% of the people posting here think this is a good review have any relation with the other fact, that you people voted a monkey for president ? I think so. In fact, I think you are so stupid and completely ignorant, that you never in your poor lifes, opened a book about what and how was in ancient rome. Blah, I am sure about it. The bad thing is that you guys actually give birth and this way your crappy genes dont die with you. And together, all morons are making the united states of america, the most stupid country in all world.

    Can anyone here tell me without googling who was Matisse and what made him famous ? I think not. How about Peter Bruegel? No, he wasnt a basketball player, nor a nascar racer. Plutarch, anyone ? Of course you dont know, your an american, which these days equals idiot. yeah, idiot, complete retardation, obese morons, etc etc. Like the disabled girlie that writes this crap and thinks that if she goot boobs, she is an equal to any woman. sadly, she isnt, only in her mind.

    • Diane Panosian
      March 6, 2010 at 8:03 pm

      Wait, 90% of people think this is a good review? Thank you for the compliment, I will take it! P.S. I goot boobs.

      • zero
        March 6, 2010 at 8:22 pm

        Can anyone here tell me without googling who would look better in a leather thong: Matisse or Bruegel?

    • Erhm's Brother
      March 13, 2010 at 10:13 am

      A monkey president would be AWESOME!!! We could put a little tuxedo and top hat on him, and he could do a dance every time legislation was passed (which wouldn’t be too often that it would get old). The press conferences where the monkey president threw feces at the reporters would be the absolute best. I guess this guy is right – I am making the U.S. the “most stupidest country in all world.” HA-HA, God Bless us all, and pray that one day we can actually have a monkey president.

      • Randy Baby
        March 13, 2010 at 10:17 am

        Without google: Explain punctuation, capitalization, and proper tense to Erhm.

  • Fifi
    March 6, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    dude, if you didnt got that the blood effect is completely artistic and you actually make an article writing your theory about how much blood someone has, you are the 2nd most retarded journalist I ever saw, 1st being another moron who claimed that this show has more sex and crime that ancient rome had… I pitty you.

  • Deniselover
    March 3, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Equal opportunity my butt! I am a lesbian and I would like to know where all these movies and shows are that show all these nude women? I see a few boobs here and there, but they are seemingly fewer and fewer these days.

    I have seen so many penises (ugly!), nude men, and men without their shirts in the last 10 years and fewer women exposed. If they want to show some equality, give me some completely nude hott girls showing everything (p*ssy please) without just boobs and an occasional shot of pubic hair, Boooring! Please someone with some guts do this for me 🙂

  • ACG
    February 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    I like historical dramas, I loved ROME. This is neither. This is a gorefest. I feel like I am watching a character level up in a video game. That said, it is a raunchy, fun, equal opportunity gorefest. One thing that I really like about this show that I have heard others complain about is that Spartacus starts out kind of sucking as a gladiator. He is talented but he actually requires training to develop the skills necessary for survival. I really like that that training didn’t consist of a three minute montage in the second episode. Just like Spartacus is slowly developing into a good gladiator, the plot develops and it is all about the supporting cast.

  • Lary9
    February 25, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    I also loved ‘Rome: The Series’. In fact, I own both DVD box sets…and moreover, I watch them regularly about once every 6 months or so. I’ve already gone on the record at IMDB as an old fashioned guy with a long enduring admiration for Stanley Kubric and his original SPARTACUS. I often begin confessions with; “No. I’m Spartacus.” But I would not recommend this Starz voyeuristic weekly TV tabloid. It’s way too bloody and such gratuitous fare is indicative of the extreme de-sensitization that we have undergone as a society over the past 25 years.Surely the Romans went through the same process. It serves to confirm another of my idiosyncratic opinions—that America is the New Rome and we are on the verge of a profound collapse of the American empire. Prepare for 2nd. class global citizenship.

    • Diane Panosian
      February 28, 2010 at 1:39 am

      Hey Lary9, thanks for reading and your insightful comments. I too believe America is the New Rome. I believe I read somewhere that when the Romans started revering its emperors as gods the empire started to collapse on itself. As this is happening today with our heavy celebrity culture, I can only guess as to the future. In any case, thanks for your thoughts and rest assured I take Spartacus: Blood and Sand as light entertainment.

      • Lary9
        March 6, 2010 at 12:36 am

        Thank you too and you’re quite welcome.

  • bruce
    February 25, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Dianne. regarding lawless’s body u can thank a boob lift and some liposuction for that,it’s not magic,it is a good surgeon.

  • Anthony
    February 23, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Good review. I was excited about the show when I saw the first teaser trailer. But after five episodes, I feel like it’s going no where fast. I don’t mind over the top blood, lust, and sex, but it just seems like that’s the point of the show. The most interesting character is Crixis. He is the most dynamic character on the show.

  • shannon hood
    February 23, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Nicely done, and welcome. We shall get along swimmingly. My best friend said almost the exact same thing about the series. You are right on the money. I find it refreshing for shows to take the equal opportunity approach.