Spartacus

Full series synopsis:

TL;DR   A Thracian ripped away from his one true love and tossed into slavery refuses to accept his new life given by the Romans. Forced to do gladiatorial battle till the day he dies for Roman sport, the man they try to turn into nothing more than an animal knows the value of human life and that everyone has a choice. He and his brotherhood will stop at nothing to prove to all Romans that life is not something to give and take away, and start a revolution still remembered two millennia later.

Full Series Rating: 8/10

Full Series Re-Watch Value: 5/5

Full series review

Season One

After defying a Roman general, a Thracian commander is sold into slavery for his defiance. To add insult to injury, the woman he loves also faces the same ordeal. Given a new name and purchased by the House of Batiatus, he is promised that if he proves himself in the arena, his wife and his freedom will be returned to him.  But he soon learns the that the house is full of more than secrets and false promises.

The series starts off a bit rough with some odd design and style choices (only a few elements of which actually make it through the series), but can be off-putting enough to make a viewer stray away. Once the story finds its footing and the visual elements calm down, there is an engaging story about brotherhood and how one man’s life can have far more impact that he may believe, as Spartacus sows the seeds for the largest slave revolt in history.

The legend of the slave Spartacus is very fairly short, so it falls to the writers to find an interesting way to stretch and pad out the bare bones left behind by history.

Rating: 9/10

Rewatch Value: 5/5

Season Two

We flash back an unknown number of years to the House of Batiatus once more, where the champion of Capua is Gannicus, a cocky hotshot at the top of his game, and Crixus is nothing more than a new recruit. Along with these new and familiar faces, we follow a younger Batiatus and the ever-growing lies and betrayals that are always brewing in the
ludus.

 

The series was born due to the fact that Andy Whitfield was battling cancer after the first season of Spartacus, and the executives loved his performance so much that they were willing to put the show on hold until he recovered. To keep the audience they had gathered with the first season, they turned their attentions to a prequel, focusing on some of the more popular secondary characters, and provide insight to how the secrets and lies within the walls of House Batiatus began.

In comparison to the solid storytelling they did in season one, this six episode in-between feels a bit like an orgy, as they up the sex factor in order to compensate for the rushed production. A lot of sets are reused and while the backstories of Batiatus and his gladiators are interesting enough, nothing in the series feels like it was really calling out to be told.  The shining light in this season is Gannicus (Dustin Clare): his charm brings so much levity in the character, as he has accepted his life as a slave and is willing to reap the small benefits of wine, women, and glory that come with being the champion. Unfortunately, with only a six episode arc, the underlying facets of Gannicus’ personality are left to the imagination, and you are left craving more.

Rating: 6.5/10

Re-watch Value: 3/5

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