Spartacus: Blood and Sand has finally made it to UK television screens [Tuesdays on Bravo]. For those not in the know, S:B&S has precisely nothing to do with the swords and sandals epic that starred Kirk Douglas. No, this show more resembles the result of some mad professor’s fusing of quivering limbs pared from 300, Gladiator and I, Claudius.
This is juvenile fun throughout – swearing makes up the majority of the ‘dialogue’, blood and nudity abound, and most of the plots are nothing more than devices to lead up to the next brutal fight. And violence in this program is often staggeringly bloody and simultaneously hilarious – in an early episode a pit-fighter flays the faces of his victims and then wears them [he’s like the Roman Gunther Von Hagens!]. Obviously this fashion statement doesn’t help in any way when he comes up against Spartacus and he is soon out of a job [and a life].
At first all of the full-frontal nudity, sex and mindless [and more often than not slow-motion] violence is overpowering, but you quickly become inured to it and find yourself laughing at the cursing [‘Jupiter’s cock’ being a personal favourite], the lack of characterisation or acting [most of the cast are so wooden that Spartacus’s repertoire of squints and grimaces appear Oscar-worthy by comparison].
Whilst all that I have written and described makes S:B&S sound absolutely rubbish, don’t let yourself be put off. Yes, it is terrible, but it is terrible on such a grand scale and the cast throw themselves into it with such vim and vigour that you can’t help but be swept along with it. And if you are still undecided then read John Crace and Charlie Brooker‘s thoughts on it [yes, it has been written about for the Guardian so it must be culturally important!].