Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I am Spartacus.....man I wish

A few things before we get started:

1) I am trying to branch this blog out into areas other than writing and self publishing so this will be my first TV show review. Hopefully, I can do a few more of these as time goes on.

2) I had this blog ready to go at the beginning of last week but decided to hold off because of all the craziness going on in Boston. My thoughts are with all the victims and, hopefully, some day those people and the city as a whole will be back to some semblance of normal.

3) Go check out my editors new look blog and editing website. Pretty snazzy if you ask me. She is pretty amazing at everything she does with writers. Cannot recommend her enough. Even if you aren't working on a novel, she might be able to help with you essay, article or blog post. http://www.eclecticeditor.com/

If you are a fan of the show Spartacus: War of the Damned and have not seen the series finale "Victory" stop reading this and go watch it already.

I have watched a lot of TV in my life. Some of it really good like The Walking Dead (which may be my biggest obsession) and some of it pretty terrible (my wife "makes" me watch Teen Mom 2 and it doesn't get much worse than that).  Very few shows really got to me the way that Spartacus did throughout the course of its run.

Back in 2010, I stumbled upon the first episode of Spartacus: Blood and Sand in a fit of insomnia one night. I figured the show couldn't be too bad so I gave it a shot. Boy was I wrong. The first episode of the series was not very good. I almost gave up halfway through, but there was something about Andy Whitfield's portrayal of Spartacus that made me want to actually watch the second episode. I DVR'd the next few episodes and decided to watch them on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Halfway through episode two, my wife walked in and thought I was watching a cheap porn. If memory serves, she walked in the room and yelled at me because she was so appalled. I explained to her that it was just Spartacus, not porn and she was surprisingly okay with it despite the fact that she told everyone this story for the next few weeks. This was the one aspect of the show that I felt was overdone in the first season and, as the show grew more confident, was needed less and less.  

Near the end of the first season, the show really hit its stride and Andy Whitfield became Spartacus in my eyes. The show looked like one that would last for years and years. I couldn't wait the year it was going to take for the next season to start. Not too long after I finished the first season, Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with and, tragically, passed away after a fight with cancer. I believe this was the point the show itself began to mirror the story it was telling. The show became tragic and hopeful at the same time with the casting of Liam McIntyre (glad to see the news that he was just cast to play a major role in the new Hercules movie) and the decision to not cancel the show.

This brings me to the last season of Spartacus. I was quite upset when they announced that there would only be one more ten episode season. The show finally hit its stride at the end of Vengeance and then they decided to end the show, I felt, one year too early. I believed there was no way they could give the show a proper send off in just ten episodes. I nearly decided not to watch so Starz wouldn't get the satisfaction of taking the show away from me (the hubris we have about things personal to us never ceases to amaze me). I still believe four or five more episodes exploring the stories of some of the new characters would have been nice.

There can only be one series finale, and if it is screwed up, it can ruin everything the series ever stood for. This was not the case with "Victory". Nothing extremely surprising happened (although my jaw did drop when I saw Kore up on the crucifix) and history was served fairly well by this retelling. That being said, a part of me still rooted for Spartacus to make it over the mountains even though, deep down, I knew he could never make it out. I still groaned a bit when the first spear went through him even when I knew it would happen (thanks Twitter for spoiling it for me).

The good (the impressive overhead view of the battle scene, Crassus finding out about his son's death and previous indiscretions with Kore, the meeting between Spartacus and Crassus on the hilltop, Gannicus' death scene in the arena) certainly outweighed the bad (Spartacus dying by being stabbed in the back despite the Caesar reference, Naevia's unceremonious death). All in all, I think the writers, actors and directors did every possible thing they could to give the audience closure. That is what I felt in the end, closer. I even teared up a bit when they showed Andy Whitfield from season one yelling "I am Spartacus" in the arena. The entire series came full circle.

Despite the sex, nudity and gratuitous violence, Spartacus was a show about hope, fighting for what is right, not giving up on your family, and brotherhood. Not too shabby for a show my wife thought was a cheap porn.

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