The essence of “Spartacus” lies in the tome of pride versus death and the intent to overcome. Now the essence of how much the series “Blood & Sand” owes to the original intent or “Gladiator” or vice versa remains to be seen. There are, of course, inherent similarities but many stories of this time were. Over the arc of four episodes, the motivations of Spartacus himself remain unchanged but his life is requisitely humbled. The idea of who the Gladiators themselves are is defined in rather uncertain terms which undeniably gives them room to grow.
The choice of John Hanna (of “The Mummy”) and Lucy Lawless (recently of “Battlestar Galactica” as well as “Xena”) as central characters gives a portal into the life of a politically ascending but hopelessly middle managed couple. The way they deal with life is meant to show the norm of the day. The hardest aspect to do (especially with some of the dialogue [which is not bad but at times overstated]) is to make the angle of the series seem grounded, despite the overarching intention of blood which is splayed in a mix with John Woo and the undeniable “300”. What the Lawless and Hanna bring to the production seems to accomplish this. The violence they peddle is simply an extension of the lifestyle.
While these battles at times are interesting to behold, their initial blast seemed a little bit low rent. However upon the viewing of the subsequent episodes, the FX found a nice balance. The sexuality and nudity which at times so far has been villified in the press is very present part of the show but, in every way, seems to enhance it, not because of its egregiousness but because of its way of life presentation that was indicative of the Roman Empire. That society worked in a different way and with a different set of rules than the more conservative 21st century. The only way to capture it is on pay television where the gloves can be taken off. It is all a means to the end and speaks to the dichotomy. In fact it is all these relationships which surround the basic story of Spartacus fighting for his sanity that give the series balance. Now this is no “Rome” to be fair but it is angling for a much different audience and to that point it is adequately succeeds. Out of 5, I give “Spartacus: Blood & Sand” a 3.