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Spartacus: Blood and Sand — The Olympics of Sex and Decapitation

Spartacus_Blood_and_Sand Work with me here. You may have heard through the grapevine that there's some kind of sports... something... going on in Vancouver. Which is apparently in Canada. Extensive research tells us that these sports... things... are called the Winter Olympics, and apparently in some circles they're kind of a big deal. Skiing may be involved, as well as something that involves brooms. The broom thing may be apocryphal, however, so don't hold us to it. All of this, of course, leads us into a discussion of Starz' brand spankin' new series of swords, sandals and - yes - softcore porn, Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

Wait! Wait! Don't go! We can make this connection work. So here's the thing: despite the fact that these so-called Olympics involve things with brooms, they are apparently derived from the same ancient Greek spectacle that gave us the marathon, rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized diving: THE OLYMPICS. Or, as they're known to the vast majority of American men, the Olympics That Matter Except For Hockey™. History teaches us that the Olympics began in olden times when Hercules ran 26.2 miles and then tore the head off a minotaur and then the King of Greece gave him a gold medal to say thanks. Fast forward 10,000 years, and you've got the biathalon.

The biathalon is the biggest non-broom facilitated crowd pleaser in today's Olympics because it's the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup of sports: two great tastes that taste great together. Cross-country skiing? Awesome. Shooting things? Awesomer. Cross-country skiing with momentary breaks to shoot at things? Awesometastic. And really, wouldn't lots of sports be made more interesting if they included firearms? Tell me you wouldn't watch bowling on TV every weekend if you knew the competitors were packing heat. Go ahead: tell me. I DON'T BELIEVE YOU.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand is the biathalon of ancient Greece: an unholy fusion of gleeful, ultra-stylized bloodletting (which not a bit accidentally calls to mind the creatively epic gore of 300) and really, really, really extensive, Skinemax-quality softcore porn. As brought to us by the good people at Starz and offering, in all honesty, virtually no resemblance to the 1960 Kirk Douglas/Stanley Kubrick classic of the same name beyond the most fundamental plot trappings, this hour-long show (now someplace around midway through its first season) is a veritable orgy of sex and violence.

I mean that in a good way, of course.

The set-up: Spartacus is a Greek soldier/leader of men who's betrayed by the Roman army and sold into slavery, where he becomes a gladiator. He shows an immediate aptitude for, y'know, killing people, and pretty much every week has an opportunity to do just that. In between killing people and hanging out with other gladiatorial types, he has lots of flashbacks to his hot wife. If this sounds familiar, it's because it's the exact same plot that won Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe a boatload of Academy Awards for Gladiator. Starz, wisely recognizing a workable formula, have combined that framework with the whacked-out, super-slow-mo spurting blood and flying, disembodied arms, legs and heads of 300 to create the kind of action that all right-thinking Americans (and potentially right-thinking Canadians, if they can tear themselves away from the riveting sight of men scrubbing brooms against ice while a large rock spins in slow, concentric circles) won't be able to get enough of.

But it's not just the gallons of blood the show spills with such gusto and regularity that makes it such a good time. There's boatloads of nudity, too! Taking the aforementioned hot wife of Spartacus as an example, we can look at the show's premier episode — which featured an extended dance remix sex scene betwixt Spartacus and Mrs. Spartacus that lasted something like 25 minutes. Honest to God, I started to get paranoid that people across the street were going to look through my living room window and see these long, involved and fairly graphic scenes of boobs and butts and rippling... everything... and come to the conclusion that I'm some kind of raging pervert. Not that they'd be wrong, necessarily, but I'd rather have them suspect than know.Lucy_Lawless_Spartacus

And there's more! Because this is set in the midst of the Roman Empire, there's all kinds of politicking and subterfuge and blahblahblah... well, whatever: there are lots of subplots and people scheming against one another in ways I can't really be bothered to follow, but not infrequently these subplots and schemes result in more softcore porn action than you can shake a stick at. Which is nice, should you find yourself with a stick to shake. 

Slightly disconcerting, in the midst of all this glorious sex and violence, is the presence of John Hannah as one of the Roman dudes who owns lots of gladiators. I know what you're thinking: John Hannah in a Roman gladiator drama? John "Hog" Hannah, the Hall of Fame Left Guard for the New England Patriots of old? Oh, you silly MamaPop reader. No, no... I speak, of course, of John Hannah the Scottish actor — the guy you probably know best as the heartbroken lover of the dead, bearded Hamish who provides that wrenching reading of the Auden poem at the funeral in Four Weddings and a Funeral. "That guy?" you ask incredulously. "That guy is playing a Roman gladiator owner with an improbably hot redhead wife?" That's right. Same guy. It's a little odd, to be honest.

What's more, his wife - the aforementioned hot redhead, who gets it on quite energetically with at least one lucky gladiator - is played by Lucy Lawless. That's right: New Zealand's own Xena plays a redheaded übersexualized wife of a Roman gladiator owner. If that's not Olympic-quality awesome, I don't know what is.

Look, if you're not sold by now, I don't know what to tell you. Boatloads of vivid and creative bloodshed. Even more boatloads of Roman depravity and accompanying nudity. If that doesn't spell wholesome family fun to you, well... time to get a new family. Spartacus: Blood and Sand — check it out, yo.

. . . . .
TwoBusy will have his vengeance. In this life, or the next.

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A Vapid Blonde

Also implants....lots and lots of implants. Thats always a plus!


No commentary about Lucy Lawless going from redhead to blond inexplicably within the episodes?


Oh! How I looooooove this show. My husband tries to talk to me on Friday nights and it's all, "sssssshhhh! Hot GLADIATORS! Please to not speak!" I even watch the reruns on Sunday...because....um....hot. gladiators.

The first ep left me very disappointed but the follow ups have been divine. Lucy Lawless is fabulous and, hello?!, she's 41. It's nice to see a hot chick in a hot chick role who's over the age of 25.

Well done, Starz. Mommy like.


As I understand it Spartacus is not Greek, he is a Thracian.


@AVP Agreed.

@Glynis I have a vague recollection of a scene that featured her taking off a wig — although that may have been entirely a hallucination on my part. Until the series comes out on DVD, we may never know for sure. It'll be like "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?" And nobody really knows the answer for sure.

@Jennifer Daddy like, too.

@Angela You are, of course, entirely correct. He's a Thracian, which extensive Wiki research shows is a geographic area that encompasses parts of what are now Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. None of which really affects our ability to enjoy the blood and boobs one way or another, but hey: we all learned a little something. And that's what MamaPop is all about.


Dammit! That should've been AVB, not AVP. My apologies. You are not an Associate Vice President. As far as I know.


Yes, there was a wig scene. I'm thinking it was spliced in later due to reshoots and the like, because I keep looking and looking at that hairline, which looks exactly like a hairline and nothing at all like a wigline.

This show is heinously campy and awful, yet I cannot stop watching it. At my house, it is called, 'Spartacus: Blood and Tits' and my husband refuses to watch it ever again.

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