Length: 3.5 season, 2010-2013
Ending: absolutely conclusive
Stars: Andy Whitfield, Liam McIntyre, Manu Bennett, Daniel Feuerriegel, Peter Mensah and Lucy Lawless.
For most people the story won’t be a new one, because it’s historical fiction and several main plot points are part of the history books. That doesn’t make for a boring story, because the Spartacus story is great to tell. A Thracian soldier sold into slavery gets the chance to become a gladiator. At the Ludus, he gets the name Spartacus, a new identity he has difficulty to embrace. He will become the leader of a major slave uprising.
What makes this version of the story stand out are great characters and excellent visuals. It looks like a gory comic book movie, it has the scale, big fights, lots of colour, blood and just plain epicness. What gives the show extra credibility is that the dialogue is written with slight tweaks in grammar. This makes the show sound alien without making it difficult to follow. I have no clue if it is historically accurate, probably not, still cool though.
I like the ‘lieutenants’ in Spartacus’ army. All people with different motivations to join and different personal lives and different views on the way to succeed in the war. They are more than two-dimensional extras. Another great character is Lucretia [Lucy Lawless], she is the the evil bisexual widow of gladiator school owner Quintus Batiatus [John Hannah]. I had doubts about who to put down as the stars from the show. Mostly because the cast was big and all around awesome. Also except Manu Bennett, who has been killing it – literally – on Arrow, the actors were all new to me, or if I have seen them before I did not recognize or remember them. So I went with both guys who played Spartacus and the actors who played the most episodes.
I hear you think ‘both actors?!’, that can’t be a good sign. I agree recasting is often distracting and makes it seem like the character suddenly changes personality. This however isn’t the case in Spartacus. When they had to change the actor [Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with and later sadly died of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma] between the first and second season, they made an excellent choice in Liam McIntyre. The slight change in the character fits in with the actual change in his circumstances. The delay in production caused them to spoil the fans with a spin-off prequel story Spartacus: Gods of the Arena which is also excellent, which I counted as the extra 0.5 season.
I would recommend the show to everyone, but there will probably be some who can’t appreciate it. There is graphic violence, explicit sex and cursing, which you need to be open to. The best comparisons I can make are Game of Thrones with more violence or Banshee in ancient Rome. So if you like either of those, you probably will like this.