Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Porn-acus is Over!

If ever a TV show got the award for 'Most Uninspiring First Episode Only to Create Awesomeness' then it would have to go to Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Or Pornacus, as we call it.

Mrs G. and I watched the first episode with almost detached indifference. It was there, doing things, but nothing really grabbed us. It looked like a Rated-R version of '300' done by someone as a college film project and really nothing to write home about. It was only as a freak of circumstance that the series had stayed on our SKY+ planner that we watched the second episode and then were hooked for the rest of the series. Once the show hit the gladiator school, it was addictive viewing.

Its hard to pinpoint what has made the show so good. Obviously it mixes action, intrigue, sex, romance and adventure into one heady rollercoaster ride, but thats not really it. Maybe its because it does it all with such gay abandon. The violence is truly viscerally violent. The action borders on superheroic on occassions, especially with the patended salmon leaps. The intrigue slips beyond twirling moustaches and becomes a genuine web of ambitions and lies. The sex is ... unforgiving. Brutal and wanton and omnipresent. The language is a mix of pseudo-theatrics peppered with coarse swearing. And it keeps you on your toes. Plot threads are raised and dealt with in blistering speed. Characters live and die on a whim, appropriately, and it has an almost Game-of-Thrones-esque disregard for the lives of popular characters.

In fact, its hard to see how they have squeezed so much into only 13 episodes!

The characters have also been a pleasure. Obvious props go to the scheming John Hannah as Batiatus and Lucy Lawless as his desperate wanton wife, Lucretia, flanked by her scheming (and equally evil) nemesis Ilithyia. The niaive Varro, noble Doctore, manipulative Ashur and fallen Crixus all made their mark. And of course, the title character is awesome as well.

What hit home to me in the last episode was that in the midst of the bloodbath, the real conflicts were essentially social.

- Could Spartacus persuade Crixus to be part of his rebellion?
- Could Spartacus persuade Doctore to cast aside years of servitude and rebel?
- Could Ashur trick Doctore to escape?
- Could Spartacus persuade Varro's wife that he was innocent?

The fighting was superfluous in the end - set dressing to the main event which were these conflicts and the one-liners between the various characters as they died, escaped or rebelled.

And in the end, only two of the main characters* died at the end of the show (and then, one was still twitching!) despite it appearing to be a complete cast TPK scenario. Genius. A true feat of televisual sleight of hand.

There is a prequel coming, Spartacus: Legends of the Arena, and then Season 2, now that the actor that plays Spartacus has recovered from cancer. Personally, I cannot wait. Oh, and DVD in Sept. too. Excellent.

* I don't count the Gaul brothers as main...

1 comment:

Metaresearchboi said...

One of my favourate shows on my V+ record button at the moment and a real shame to see it off the schedules. Think the prequal will be good as both Batiatus and his wife were my two favourate characters, and it'll be a real shame not to have either in series 2 (that said, will Lucy Lawless's character actually survive?).

Thought the Crixis character was really well developed thoughout the series and they definately went all out to give him depth in the last few episodes. Think the actor of Crixis probably has a Dolph/Van Damme style career post Sparticus as an "action hero" in shite straight to DVD movies. Which is a shame, as I think he's actually a good actor.

For all it's flaws (at there are a few) the show was still to me excellent TV, not quites Sons of Anarchy must-watch-TV, but very good.