Starz's relatively new series, Spartacus, is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows. I wasn't sold on the pilot, but once our quasi-eponymous hero (Spartacus isn't his real name) lands in the Ludus of Batiatus, the story really takes off. After having been dealt a crippling blow by the gods, Spartacus finds himself face-to-face with the most lethal, savage, and adept gladiators in Capua, as he struggles to find his place and ultimately assume the title of champion. From there, the show is a combination of brutal, gory, and very stylized fights in the arena mixed in with back-stabbing political and social intrigues.
I'm mostly through the first season, so I haven't watched the prequel season yet, but this show is more addictive than crack. As they say. (I don't plan on finding out how addictive crack is any time in the near future.) Grizzly action sequences are set against the backdrop of a decadent Roman world, where sex is nothing to be ashamed of and grandiose political ambitions are harbored by all.
The dialogue takes some getting used to, as the characters are prone to orate and offer philosophical discourse, but it is rewarding once you get used to it. For you Latin buffs out there, I did read that the writers try to mimic Roman speech patterns as much as English will allow. The writers even try to avoid using the word "Yes" as much as possible because that word did not exist in Classical Latin.
(It's true, look it up.)
I really enjoy the lead actors: John Hannah is positively devious as the owner of the Ludus, Batiatus; Manu Bennett, who is testosterone incarnate; Peter Mensah, who has a presence to rival any actor's, living or dead; Lucy You-Know-Her-as-Xena Lawless; and Andy Whitfield. It's a damned shame what happened to Whitfield: during the first season, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and ultimately gave his blessing to the producers to keep the series going with someone else. He made for an excellent Spartacus, and I hope he recovers quickly and somehow finds his way back on to the show.
The series has inspired many, myself included, to adopt the Spartacus workout as their training regimen. And if you haven't heard, there's now a second routine available as well. It's also rekindled my interest in attempting the ridiculous 300 workout as well. These three workouts will kick your ass and they're perfect for someone with limited free time to exercise: you only need to do them 3 to 4 times per week, and the routines are only 20 to 30 minutes. It might sound too good to be true, but they really are effective and provide the most bang for your buck, because they're can do it all: add lean muscle, improve both your aerobic and anaerobic capacities, and shred fat. You're not going to get big doing these workouts, but you are going to get ripped, lean, and more athletic overall.
And if you haven't seen the original movie with Kirk Douglas, get out there and rent it. It's a classic, despite what Kubrick thought of it, and it's aged pretty well.
My only gripe with the show is this: why haven't they hired me as a writer yet? My Latin's pretty good, I also took two years of ancient Greek in high school, and I'm fit enough to do the Spartacus workout. And most importantly, I'd work for peanuts to write for a kick-ass show like this.
45 minutes ago