Spartacus: Blood and Sand

Spartacus: Blood and Sand
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Genre Historical drama
Sword-and-sandal[1]
Created by Steven S. DeKnight
Written by Aaron Helbing
Todd Helbing
Miranda Kwok
Steven S. DeKnight
Brent Fletcher
Tracy Bellomo
Andrew Chambliss
Daniel Knauf
Directed by Michael Hurst
Rick Jacobson
Jesse Warn
Starring
Composer(s) Joseph LoDuca
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 13 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) Chloe Smith
Charles Knight
Aaron Lam
Editor(s) Gary Hunt
Jonathan Woodford-Robinson
Location(s) New Zealand
Cinematography Aaron Morton
Running time 53 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel Starz
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
Original run January 22, 2010 (2010-01-22) – April 16, 2010 (2010-04-16)
Chronology
Followed by Spartacus: Vengeance
Related shows Spartacus: Gods of the Arena
External links
Website

Spartacus: Blood and Sand is the title of the first and most critically acclaimed season of Spartacus, an American television series that premiered on Starz on January 22, 2010. The series was inspired by the historical figure of Spartacus (played by Andy Whitfield), a Thracian gladiator who from 73 to 71 BC led a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. Executive producers Steven S. DeKnight and Robert Tapert focused on structuring the events of Spartacus' obscure early life leading up to the beginning of historical records.The show stars Andy Whitfield and has been rated TV-MA for graphic violence, strong sexual content, and coarse language.

Plot

The story begins with an unnamed Thracian's involvement in a campaign against the Getae (Dacian tribes, in what today is Romania) under the command of the legatus, Claudius Glaber. In 72–71 BC, Roman general Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus, proconsul of the Roman province of Macedonia, marched against the Getae, allies of Rome's enemy, Mithridates VI of Pontus. The Getae frequently raid the Thracians' lands to the south, so the Thracians are persuaded by Glaber to enlist in the Romans' service as auxiliaries. Glaber, persuaded by his wife Ilithyia to seek greater glory, decides to break off the Getae campaign in order to confront the forces of Mithridates in Asia Minor. The Thracian preferring to protect his homeland as promised, feels betrayed and leads a mutiny against Glaber, but returns to find his village in flames. The Thracian finds his wife Sura, but they are captured by a vengeful Glaber the next day; the Thracian is condemned to die in the gladiator arena, while Sura is condemned to slavery.

The Thracian is shipped to Capua in Italy, a center of gladiator training. Against all odds he slays the four gladiators appointed to execute him in the arena and becomes an instant sensation with the crowd. Senator Albinius commutes the punishment from death to slavery. The prisoner's true name unknown, Lentulus Batiatus, the owner of a ludus in Capua, suggests to name him "Spartacus", because he fought like the ferocious Thracian king of that name. Noting well the Thracian's fierce raw talent and popularity with the masses, Batiatus purchases him for training within the walls of his ludus under the tutelage of the doctore (or instructor) Oenomaus, a former gladiator and fellow slave. He is befriended by Varro, a Roman who sold himself into slavery to pay his debts and support his family. He is harassed by more senior gladiators, notably Crixus, an undefeated Gaul, and Barca, a Carthaginian. Spartacus soon learns that Sura was sold to a Syrian slave trader. Batiatus, who has been unable to control Spartacus during his first days of training, returns a makeshift garter of hers, and promises to find Sura and reunite them in exchange for his cooperation in the arena.

After many near-fatal ordeals and much further training Spartacus attains the status of a living legend and is named the "Champion of Capua". Batiatus arranges the purchase of Sura, but she is delivered mortally wounded, supposedly having been waylaid by bandits en route. Her murder was secretly ordered by Batiatus to keep Spartacus loyal and focused. Spartacus casts off his heritage as a Thracian and forgets his dream of freedom, becoming content with life as champion.

The turning point comes when Spartacus is set to fight his only friend in the ludus, Varro, in an exhibition match celebrating the coming to manhood of the Capua magistrate's son, Numerius. Ilithyia, who has hated Spartacus since he embarrassed her husband Glaber by his mutiny, seduces the young man and convinces him to demand death for the loser of the match. Spartacus wins (as expected), and when the young man gives the "thumbs down", Batiatus, wishing to ingratiate himself with the boy's powerful father, forces Spartacus to comply and kill Varro. Suffering from both a wound received during the match and his remorse over having to kill his friend, Spartacus has feverish dreams that lead him to suspect that Batiatus arranged Sura's death. He is later able to confirm his suspicions. Knowing that it is all or nothing when it comes to resistance of his enslavement, he resolves to "kill them all" and lead a revolt against the ruling house he once fought for.

In order to get his revenge, Spartacus enlists the help of Crixus and the rest of the gladiators to defeat the house of Batiatus once and for all. A battle to the death between Crixus and Spartacus is arranged for the Capuan elite at the ludus. The doctore, Oenomaus, confronts Batiatus about Barca's death and Ashur's hand in it. Spartacus gains support from Mira, who agrees to surreptitiously open the gate to the villa from the training area. Crixus initially refuses to aid Spartacus in the hope of being reunited with Naevia. However, after learning during the fight that he has been deliberately drugged to ensure Spartacus' victory, he helps Spartacus get within reach of Batiatus. At the first attack, the doctore Oenomaus prevents Spartacus from killing the lanista. In the ensuing chaos, the gladiators kill the guards and some guests. Crixus persuades Oenomaus to join him with Spartacus; Illithyia flees and orders her guards to protect her by sealing off part of the ludus. Oenomaus, fulfilling his word, tries to kill Ashur, but Ashur barely manages to escape. Crixus grievously wounds Batiatus' wife, Lucretia, with a sword stab to her abdomen, piercing her womb and killing their unborn child. Aurelia kills Numerius after revealing to him that Varro was her husband and Spartacus finally kills Batiatus in front of the seriously wounded Lucretia. After the massacre, Spartacus vows to make "Rome tremble".

Cast and characters

Roman

Slave

  • Andy Whitfield as Spartacus – a Thracian warrior who is condemned to slavery as a gladiator.
  • Manu Bennett as Crixus – a Gaul, he is Batiatus' top gladiator, and love interest of Naevia.
  • Peter Mensah as Oenomaus/Doctore – an African slave who serves as trainer of Batiatus' gladiators.
  • Nick E. Tarabay as Ashur – a former gladiator from Syria whose leg was crippled in the arena by Crixus; now serves Batiatus as a bookkeeper and henchman.
  • Antonio Te Maioha as Barca – nicknamed the "Beast of Carthage", he is one of Batiatus' most successful gladiators, serves as a bodyguard for his dominus.
  • Lesley-Ann Brandt as Naevia – Lucretia's loyal body slave. Love interest of Crixus.
  • Jai Courtney as Varro – a Roman citizen who sold himself to the ludus to support his family.
  • Katrina Law as Mira – a slave girl sent to seduce Spartacus and become his lover, under threat of death.
  • Erin Cummings as Sura – the wife of Spartacus.'
  • Dan Feuerriegel as Agron - a German gladiator recruit who helps Spartacus plot his uprising.

Style

The program is preceded by a warning that it purports to portray a "historical portrayal of ancient Roman society that contains graphic violence and adult content". Incidental nudity and scenes of a sexual or of a violent nature are present throughout.

Episodes

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date Production
code
U.S. viewers
(million)
11 "The Red Serpent" Rick JacobsonSteven S. DeKnightJanuary 22, 2010 (2010-01-22)SPS1010.66[2]
In the series premiere, in 73 B.C., a nameless Thracian warrior and his fellow fighters align themselves with legate Gaius Claudius Glaber and Rome to protect their homeland. But disenchantment with the Romans soon sets in when their allies' strategies leave their homeland unprotected from Getae marauders. The warrior leads a rebellion of the auxiliary troops against the Roman officers, then deserts to return to his village and his wife. He arrives as the Getae attack and he and his wife manage to escape, only to be captured by Glaber the next day. The warrior's wife, Sura, is forced into slavery and he and the other deserters are shipped to the arena in Capua, to be put to death publicly by gladiators, whereupon he proves his worth by defeating all four opponents, and is given a new name, Spartacus
22 "Sacramentum Gladiatorum" Rick JacobsonSteven S. DeKnightJanuary 29, 2010 (2010-01-29)SPS1020.77[2]
The newly enslaved Thracian warrior Spartacus enters the ludus of Lentulus Batiatus to receive gladiator training and discipline. He soon manages to make an enemy of the undefeated Gallic champion of Capua, Crixus, and the attention of whip-wielding taskmaster Doctore who uses harsh methods to test the new novices. He also meets Varro, a Roman gladiator by bankruptcy, who becomes his friend. Spartacus's new owner, the crafty but cash-strapped Batiatus, makes him an offer; if he cooperates and trains as a prized gladiator, he will use his power to help locate his wife. Consequently Spartacus trains to face the test which determines whether he is fit to be a gladiator, and bests Crixus when the Gaul pauses to gloat. Afterwards, the victorious Spartacus swears the sacramentum of the gladiator brotherhood. 
33 "Legends" Grady HallBrent FletcherFebruary 5, 2010 (2010-02-05)SPS1030.86[2]
As the gladiators prepare for the series of fights that will be the highlight of the upcoming Vulcanalia festival, Spartacus cleverly manoeuvres to secure the right to battle Crixus, the unbeaten champion of Capua, in the primus or final battle. Despite his wife Lucretia's objections, Batiatus reminds her that Spartacus' bravery and previous exploits have "struck a chord with the public's interest". Meanwhile, Lucretia schemes to win favor with the wife of Gaius Claudius Glaber, the crafty and devious Ilithyia. At a pre-fight banquet, she interests her in the desirous Crixus, although he is secretly enamoured of Naevia, one of the domestic slaves. At the Vulcanalia, Spartacus embarrasses his owners publicly, both by beginning to fight too early, and by surrendering instead of dying. 
44 "The Thing in the Pit" Jesse WarnAaron Helbing & Todd HelbingFebruary 12, 2010 (2010-02-12)SPS1040.66[2]
Spartacus' disgrace at surrendering to Crixus in the arena leads Batiatus to punish him by demoting the Thracian to fight in the "pits of the underworld," a hellish, vicious subterranean battle arena where the crowds are frenzied and anything goes. When Naevia seemingly rejects Crixus' necklace gift, he initially misunderstands the reason for her refusal, and continues his secretive sexual relationship with Batiatus' wife. Meanwhile, the drought and Batiatus' money problems continue, and Lucretia ends up selling her new emerald necklace at a loss in the markets. Spartacus somehow survives the pits, and despite losing Batiatus' winnings, he regains the favour of his dominus after helping to foil an assassination attempt by two slaves, and is restored again to gladiator status. 
55 "Shadow Games" Michael HurstMiranda KwokFebruary 19, 2010 (2010-02-19)SPS1050.85[2]
As the summer heat continues, enemies Spartacus and Crixus are commanded to take on an unbeaten champion, the "shadow of death" named Theokoles. Doctore is charged with preparing the two men for the drought-breaking primus, but receives little satisfaction from either man. Spartacus tries to find common ground with his arch-enemy but Crixus remains stalwartly opposed to sharing any of the glory. Meanwhile, after the visit of a fertility priestess, Lucretia is denied a chance to conceive as Crixus, distracted by Naevia, declines her advances. Meanwhile, the wounded Batiatus continues his own investigations into the attempt on his life, and exacts blood vengeance on Ovidius, the cousin of Magistrate Calavius, and his family. In the arena, Theokoles is finally bested by Spartacus and the drought breaks, but Crixus is critically wounded in the encounter as it begins to rain. 
66 "Delicate Things" Rick JacobsonTracy Bellomo & Andrew ChamblissFebruary 26, 2010 (2010-02-26)SPS1061.08[2]
As the rains fall, both Barca and Spartacus envision a future away from the ludus. Barca expects to purchase his and Pietros' freedom, while Spartacus dreams of escaping with his enslaved wife, Sura. Crixus, barely alive after the near-fatal fight with Theokoles, is now in a drugged sleep. As part of his promotion to new Capuan champion, Spartacus tries on new armour, and during a private lesson with the Magistrate's son, Numerius, he steals a dagger for the escape. Spartacus also uses some of his winnings to buy wine and women for the gladiators, to further aid the escape plan. Meanwhile, Batiatus is troubled by false news that Ovidius' son still lives, and Ashur uses the chance to have Barca killed to avoid repaying the winnings owed to him. In the end Batiatus keeps his word of retrieving Sura, but her reunion with Spartacus is short lived as she quickly dies from wounds sustained in a "bandit attack". 
77 "Great and Unfortunate Things" Jesse WarnBrent Fletcher & Steven S. DeKnightMarch 5, 2010 (2010-03-05)SPS1070.97[2]
Spartacus' world is changed by the death of his wife and he finds himself at a crossroads. In the absence of Barca, Pietros struggles without a protector and is unable to deal with the brutal attentions of Gnaeus. Meanwhile, Varro is visited by his wife and son and receives unwelcome news that she too, without her protector, has also been raped. Amidst the deceit of the household, Doctore seeks the truth behind Barca's sudden departure from the ludus. Pietros, now without hope, hangs himself - and Spartacus gets even by throwing Gnaeus off the cliff. Spartacus, again at odds with his dominus, is forced to repay the loss from his winnings. After returning the stolen dagger, he decides to focus on his new gladiatorial life. In the arena while dressed as a Roman consul, he fights six criminals dressed as Thracians, and trusting himself to his wife's gods, he begins to purge his past. 
88 "Mark of the Brotherhood" Rowan WoodsAaron Helbing & Todd HelbingMarch 12, 2010 (2010-03-12)SPS1080.88[2]
Spartacus continues his reign as the champion of Capua at rival Selonius' expense, while Crixus struggles to recover and to return to training. After comments made by Ashur, Batiatus begins to explore the possibility of selling the Gaul to a rival ludus in Damascus. Meanwhile, Batiatus acquires six new recruits for 100 denarii, and Ilithyia chooses to sponsor one, a Gaul named Segovax, in order to both defy her husband and impress her socialite friends. After a slight to her husband's honour by Spartacus at a private party, she implies promises of freedom to the recruit in exchange for his help. Crixus, after working to regain Lucretia's sexual favour, interrupts Segovax's attempt to strangle Spartacus. Crixus and Spartacus, both wounded in the fight, begin to renew a sense of brotherhood with each other. Ilithyia, on a return visit, arrives in time to both witness her sponsored slave's crucifixion and deny any knowledge of the reasons behind the attack. 
99 "Whore" Michael HurstDaniel KnaufMarch 19, 2010 (2010-03-19)SPS1091.11[2]
Licinia, a rich noblewoman and cousin of senator Marcus Crassus vists from Rome and asks Lucretia to "taste the wares of ludus" with Spartacus. Lucretia, mindful that Spartacus had not been with a woman since his wife became a slave, instructs a female servant named Mira to prepare him for his encounter, an offer he rejects. Ilithyia, suspecting her rich friend's desires, also decides on a masked sexual encounter. Jealously enraged by her choice of Crixus (who has recently resumed training), Lucretia sets up to trap Ilithyia in bed with Spartacus. Ilithyia, shocked after it is revealed that both intended to use the scandal against her, suddenly kills Licinia. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the ludus, Batiatus' plan to kill Selonius is undermined by a slighted Ashur, Crixus makes enemies of two new German brothers, Varro's wife and son have gone missing, and Naevia steals a guard's key for an illicit tryst. 
1010 "Party Favors" Chris Martin-JonesBrent Fletcher & Miranda KwokMarch 26, 2010 (2010-03-26)SPS1101.27[2]
Spartacus and Crixus are set up to fight in an exhibition match for Numerius' coming of age party, and Crixus sees a chance to resume his position. Batiatus, realising Spartacus' importance to his ambitions, invites him to play a board game called Latrunculi, but Lucretia jealously disapproves of the two men sharing wine. Meanwhile Naevia has troubles with the guard she stole the key from, and risks all to share time with Crixus. At the party a now revived Ilithyia, still haunted by memories of the murder, seduces Numerius and has him switch Spartacus's opponent to Varro. Despite it being an exhibition match, Numerius further surprises by not granting mercy to Varro, forcing Spartacus to reluctantly kill his only friend. Later that night, after Batiatus' interest in politics is dismissed by Calavius, he vows blood revenge for his fighter's death. Distraught with grief, Spartacus returns to his cell and vents his rage until Mira comes in to comfort him. 
1111 "Old Wounds" Glenn StandringStory by: Dan Filie & Patricia Wells
Teleplay by: Daniel Knauf
April 2, 2010 (2010-04-02)SPS1111.13[2]
Spartacus is continually haunted by the death of his friend and admits to Varro's wife, Aurelia, that he died by his sword. At the same time, Batiatus fakes another bandit raid and kidnaps Magistrate Calavius, holding him captive in the city sewers. Meanwhile, a festering wound from the fight with Varro weakens Spartacus, and while he recuperates with the help of the medicus and Mira, more visions of the dead haunt his feverish dreams. In the arena, Crixus reclaims some of his lost glory when he is needed in the primus against Pompeius' unbeaten champion, Pericles - a fight he narrowly wins. Later, in the infirmary, Spartacus throttles Aulus, Sura's killer (having noticed he had no actual wound as suffered in her attack), and learns that Batiatus ordered her death. Batiatus' scheming comes to fruition as he, with the cunning help of Ashur, is able to successfully entrap Solonius for Calavius' murder. 
1212 "Revelations" Michael HurstBrent FletcherApril 9, 2010 (2010-04-09)SPS1121.29[2]
In the arena, Crixus continues his winning streak, and Spartacus kills the condemned Solonius. Spartacus also plots vengeance, but is warned by Mira that any attack on the master risks the life of all slaves. When finally granted an audience with Batiatus, he stays his hand when he notices Varro's widow, Aurelia, now working as a debt-slave. The ludus later awaits the arrival of Ilithyia and her husband Claudius Glaber, and Batiatus ends up being irked by Glaber's bluntness, but also surprised by his wife's pregnancy. Meanwhile, Spartacus fights against Glaber's soldiers, and Ashur's vengeful scheming finally exposes the relationship between Crixus and Naevia, leading to a scene. When Glaber refuses to sponsor Batiatus, he and Lucretia desperately reveal Ilithyia's hand in Licinia's murder and Glaber is forced to acquiesce. In the end, Crixus is flogged while Naevia is sold - but before leaving, she tells Doctore the truth behind Barca's "freedom". 
1313 "Kill Them All" Jesse WarnSteven S. DeKnightApril 16, 2010 (2010-04-16)SPS1131.23[2]
In front of the Capuan elite assembled on the balcony of the ludus, Crixus and Spartacus fight to the death, a bout arranged by Batiatus for their sport. However, two days earlier, Spartacus endeavors to enlist the help of the rest of the gladiators to lead a revolt to destroy the house of Batiatus once and for all. Spartacus gains support from Mira, who is tasked with opening the gate, but Crixus resists in hopes of reuniting with Naevia. Meanwhile, Doctore (real name Oenomaus) confronts Batiatus about Barca's death and Ashur's hand in it. Later, during the duel, after learning he was given poison to ensure Spartacus' victory, Crixus finally joins the revolt. In the melee, Doctore initially stops Spartacus from killing Batiatus, but Crixus persuades him to join them just as Illithyia escapes by having her husband's soldiers seal the villa doors. Doctore tries to kill Ashur but he escapes, and Crixus stabs Lucretia, killing their unborn child. Aurelia knifes Numerius in revenge for Varro, and Spartacus confronts and kills Batiatus. After the massacre, he vows to rid Rome of slavery, and all the slaves escape the ludus. 

Production

On December 22, 2009, the show was renewed for a second season but its production was postponed after Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with early-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma.[3][4] Starz announced in May 2010 that it would develop a six-episode prequel series, entitled Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, to allow star actor Whitfield to undergo medical treatment.[5] The prequel featured both new and returning characters; it was headlined by John Hannah (as Batiatus) and Lucy Lawless (as Lucretia). Whitfield also provided a brief voice-over role. Filming began in New Zealand in the summer of 2010. The prequel aired beginning January 2011.[6]

In June 2010, season two's pre-production resumed after Starz announced Whitfield was cancer-free.[7] But when his cancer recurred, Starz replaced Whitfield (with the actor's consent) with Liam McIntyre as Spartacus for season two which is titled Spartacus: Vengeance.[8][9][10] Andy Whitfield died on September 11, 2011.[11]

International broadcast

Three days after the US premiere, the series began airing in Canada on Kanal A on January 2, 2012, from Monday to Friday at 9.45 pm, and ended January 18, 2012.

Reception

The premiere episode of the series set a record for Starz, with 553,000 viewers on their network, and another 460,000 on Encore, where the show was available only that weekend. For the rest of the season the show had an average of 1.285 million viewers. Critical reception of the first episode was mixed; the review aggregate website Metacritic which assigns a normalized average score out of 100 gave the show a score of 54% based on 22 reviews.[20] Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly gave it the grade B+, saying it "might prove to be the not-at-all-guilty pleasure of the season."[21] Barry Garron of the Hollywood Reporter suggested that with "such thin stories... it's small wonder that sex and violence are used to take up the slack." Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times wrote that John Hannah as Batiatus "keeps the show grounded with a persuasive portrait of a man engaged in a stressful daily business" and called Whitfield as Spartacus "handsome and buff and smart and beastly."[22] Mark Perigard of the Boston Herald gave the season finale a positive review, rating it a B+. He commented on the improvement of the series throughout its first season.[23]

Other media

Novels

In 2012 Titan Books announced the publication of a series of novels based on Spartacus: Blood and Sand. The first, titled Spartacus: Swords & Ashes, was written by J.M. Clements and released on January 3, 2012.[24] The second book in the series was Spartacus: Morituri by Mark Morris.

Board game

In 2012 Gale Force Nine announced the creation of a licensed board game based on the series. The English language release, Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery, had a limited release at Gen Con 2012 and a general release to game and hobby stores on September 28, 2012. .[25]

Comics

Earlier, in 2009, Devil's Due had published a four-part prequel comic series titled Spartacus - Blood And Sand. Each issue spotlighted a character from the planned television series, mostly the minor gladiator rivals of the main cast.[26]

The series was adapted as a 4 part motion comic adaptation called Spartacus – Blood and Sand – Motion Comic. Ray Park and Heath Freeman were cast. Kyle Newman was the director, and the producers were Andy Collen and Jeff Krelitz.[27][28][29][30]

# Title Spotlights Writer Artist Run Time (Motion Comic)
1 Upon the Sands of Vengeance Arkadios, the Red Serpent Steven S. DeKnight Adam Archer 16 minutes
2 Shadows of the Jackal The Gargan Twins Jimmy Palmiotti Dexter Soy 16 minutes
3 The Beast of Carthage Barca, the Beast of Carthage Todd & Aaron Helbing Jon Bosco & Guilherme Balbi 9 minutes
4 The Shadow of Death Theokoles, the Shadow of Death Miranda Kwok Allan Jefferson 12 minutes

References

External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • TV.com

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