Spartacus TV Series - Quick Review

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Spartacus TV Series - Quick Review

Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:05 pm

My wife and I watched a new swords and sandals series on the American cable channel Starz. The series is very originally titled, "Spartacus, Blood and Sand". Only the first episode has aired and is available on video on demand.

The show was less than impressive. Production relies heavily on computer-generated backgrounds, scenery, and extras, so much so that I was reminded of the early days of PowerPoint -- every presentation was full of sound effects, animations, clip art -- when the form distracted from the content. Particularly egregious were the battle and single combat scenes. They followed the pattern of the film 300: slow motion until a killing move. The screen is then literally filled with computer generated blood.

It appears that everyone who lived in ancient times had a body like a Greek god or goddess. I don't mind eye candy, and there was plenty of nudity, but the faces of the women, at least, did not match their Olympian physiques.

More irritating is the portrayal of the Romans. They all have one or more vices, avarice, lust, ambition, infidelity, etc., and all lack any virtues whatsoever. Romanitas is reserved for the noble Thracians.

On the positive side, the creators of the series put some effort into the reproductions of costumes, armor, villas, etc. And the smattering of Latin that was thrown in from time to time was actually correct! This is the only point in which the series is superior to the film Gladiator.

Since almost nothing is known about the origins of Spartacus (other than that he was from Thrace), the creators of the series had to invent his early history. They didn't do a bad job in portraying him as a minor Thracian village chief who joins the Roman auxiliary along with his compatriots but is later betrayed by the Roman commander.

My wife and I will probably keep watching the series simply because we like the period so much, but we'll be switching to it with less than enthusiasm.
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Re: Spartacus TV Series - Quick Review

Postby Quintus Servilius Priscus on Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:56 am

It reminded me of "300". At least special effects wise. The first episode to me was just so-so. I hope as the series progresses it will get better. I still liked HBO's "Rome" better.
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Re: Spartacus TV Series - Quick Review

Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:30 pm

We watched the second episode last night. It was much better than the first one, with more character development and less reliance on virtual blood in the fight scenes. I was again impressed by the recreations of the scenery and costumes as well.

There wasn't much Latin in this episode, and I was irritated by the non-use of the vocative case, e.g. "Dominus, I swear to...". Instead of Domine. There is no reason that any audience could not catch on to the change in the endings when a name or title is used in direct address. Maybe I'm expecting too much...

We're kind of looking forward to the third episode now.

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Re: Spartacus TV Series - Quick Review

Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Sat Feb 20, 2010 4:59 am

The third and fourth episodes continued the series' improvement. Character development took the lead over fake blood. Oh, there was plenty of extreme violence, don't worry about that, but it is better balanced now. We're definitely going to continue to watch.
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Re: Spartacus

Postby Aldus Marius on Sat Feb 20, 2010 8:17 am

Salvete amici,

Always good to see a Roman series get a little traction! >({|:-D

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