So, Tuesday night I got invited to a sneak peek at the new Starz original series, Spartacus: Blood and Sand. I was actually looking forward to it. Blood, sex, and violence in a period of time that involves hot guys greased and leathered beating the crap out of each other appeals to my nether regions. Oh, and I do really like Lucy Lawless and John Hannah, but not in that order. In eager anticipation of the evening’s festivities, I IMDB’ed the show to see who was in it. I also consulted Geppetto on any word on the show. All I gather from anywhere, and by anywhere I mean five minutes of research Tuesday before I left home, was that the show cast quite a few Kiwis, Aussies, and Brits and the title character is in less than half the episodes. At least there was free food and booze.
Geppetto had heard it was visually akin to 300. Here’s what I got out of episode one. The special effects are neither special nor effective. I know having an epic battle scene with lots of blood in slow motion seems cool but when done every five minutes seems well, like overkill. Even when the characters are in a relatively minor fist fights you REALLY don’t have to go all slow motion-hey look at “the sheets of blood” mode. If you enjoy watching the slow motion blood spurting/gushing then you will really enjoy this. Most of the first half of the episode is shot badly in what is clearly a blue screen effect. Check out the scene where Spartacus is “running” through the snow in the woods. I’ve seen better effects on the Graham Norton Show.
As bad as the blood is the sex is far worse. Little hint, I am fairly certain ancient Roman women did not have feathered-coiffed hair with bangs nor did they have pink frosted lipstick. The sex itself is painful and tedious to watch. In another scene a Roman wife sneeks into camp to play bouncy bouncy with her husband a Roman colonel… general… who knows? Do you remember in the 1970s and 1980s when any hooker in a movie or TV show had a big red fur coat? The wife has an ancient Roman version of said coat in cloak form. Now, here’s the best part, she’s naked underneath but, and I can only speculate, that Viva Bianca is not a method actor, and did not wish to go au naturale on the pubic front and therefore required stunt pubes. This wasn’t just any stunt muff. It was a carefully manicured topiary of faux bush. Costume department I salute you.
Now, as for violence, there’s plenty and it’s really bloody, overly bloody, super bloody. This becomes more annoying than anything. Until a big fight scene with gladiators in the coliseum. One guy gets his legs whacked off at the knees. As he tries to crawl away, his legs only have a trickle of blood each. Here’s a fun fact, boys and girls, the femoral artery is in the thigh. The thigh is part of the leg. If you suddenly find your self without leggage from the knees down, chances are you will bleed a heck of a lot more than a finger-wide trickle. Also, just because you’re on cable doesn’t mean you have to swear. Randomly swearing makes you sound like a parent trying to sound cool to their kids.
The only things I enjoyed were John Hannah and Lucy Lawless. They seemed like they could develop into fun characters. Alas, they are only in half the series, too. I’m still not really sure what this show is about, who I should take as a major player, and if I should bother. I will probably DVR this one and fast forward to John Hannah and Lucy Lawless… for a while, at least. Here’s the trailer.