Photo by Eric Yeager
©2009 All Rights Reserved
A Thought for Today
Blind faith is as dumb as uninformed
TO BEGIN WITH
Few things are more pleasurable than developing a crush on a new film or
TV series and spreading the word about it.
McKUEN AT THE MOVIES
A LITTLE SAND AND A LOT OF BLOOD
If you have been following the naughty, fetish fulfilling, bloody but
beautifully executed (add any other adjectives that come to mind)
“Spartacus: Blood And Sand” series on Starz TV you’ll know that the
first season of this engaging endeavor is coming to a close Friday
(4/16) when its final episode unspools.
This is a Spartacus writer Dalton Trumbo and producer star Kirk Douglas
of the famed film version could only dream of. While the film was plush
and lush and pushed the barriers of its time this series pile drives
through anything offered in a sword and sandal TV or film epic that’s
gone before. According to The Hollywood Reporter while most of the new
shows on network and cable have stumbled this past season “Spartacus:
Blood And Sand” hasn’t just held its own but as word of mouth spread it
has added a growing number of viewers each and every week since its
start date establishing it a cult classic. .
Camera work, production values and editing are all exceptional. Ditto
the stunts and specialty acts including unblushing battles, women to die
for, men who die for, buggery in the shadows, a lingering full frontal
shot of an hermaphrodite (gorgeous from the waist up and dubious waist
down) and doses of S&M by those who seem to know what they are doing.
I’m only guessing at the expertise of the latter since I haven’t been
there, haven’t done that and don’t have the Tee shirt attesting to the
veracity of my statement.
Thirteen weeks of body bunting and blood letting (it’s all part of the
plot folks) have led us to this weeks episode not so timidly titled
“Kill Them All.” If you recall your history or myth-tery Spartacus was
Roman slave who led his fellow slave/gladiators in a revolt that brought
Filmed in beautiful New Zealand we haven’t seen much in the way of
pretty places yet since most of the action so far has taken place in the
crowded arenas, a bit less crowded bed and brothel and on the gladiator
training ground. These Roman games are a kind of casting call where
despite already having secured the part, however brief, body builders
flex flaunt and faux fight while the blood hungry mob plays Siskel and
Ebert (mostly thumbs down).
Then there’s The House of Batiartas, a kind of upstairs / downstairs as
the well built service the well healed on several levels. In addition to
this decidedly Latin Kama Sutra of plan and fancy fornication this
particular Rome adventure has been fleshed out with more intrigue,
constant conspiracy and multiple plot lines than any toga Technicolor
trip you or I have ever taken or will take at the movies. Until perhaps
season two. There’s a slight hitch though since Andy Whitfield, who
plays the title role, was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma
and will be undergoing treatment before shooting on the upcoming season
can begin. Alas those of us who are true fans are in for a longer than
Andy Whitfield as Spartacus
Back into storage go all those designer togas and padded jock straps
that barely cover the bare necessities of the cast and very often
deliberately don’t. And, if the already planned second season is
anything like what’s gone before the prop room will have to add an
additional locker unit for the sliced and diced body parts and blood by
the barrel load that must have already started arriving at the studio to
augment the swords, spears and severed heads already on hand.
For those of you who didn’t catch up with this ––has to be seen to be
believed –––Spartacus, I recommend you hasten to the net and Starz On
Demand where every episode is available for viewing and re-viewing. FOR
FREE. And good news English fans the series is coming to a TV set near
you starting next month.
As you call up episode after episode for (pardon the expression) viewing
orgies be warned that junior should be sequestered with his Nintendo at
the other end of your villa because the dirty dialogue flies faster than
the spitfire “F” words (of which there are plenty here) at a Chris Rock
concert. Who knew that the citizens high and low of Rome’s glory days
only mastered four letter words? Socrates it aint.
Lucy Lawless as Lucretia
Please pay attention to the emoting of my musical friend Lucy Lawless
whose acting chops get a workout as Lucretia wife of our heroes’ evil
master Batiartas. As the queen of mean Ms. Lawless, best know for her
kick butt role of Xena, Warrior Princess, matches her dirty dealing
hubby (played by John Hannah) deed for deed and always looks gorgeous in
the processes. Of course, set in the producer’s imagination of ancient
Rome villains and the victors you root for are all hunks and hotties.
Erin Cummings, Peter Menseh, Viva Bianca and Manu Bennett are among
those deserving of mention but it’s unfair to single out a few with a
cast full of so many well chosen actors. The ensemble work is splendid
with one caveat; the writers and producers seem to take special delight
in bumping off characters just as you begin to identify with them. Still
there seems to be an endless supply of newbie’s who show promise. The
ongoing meanies are delightfully mean and the hero’s flawed and never
Whitfield is just right as the stoic Spartacus combining more than basic
brawn and an always-working brain with or without dialog. Life after
lymphoma treatment and gladiatorial glory for this talented British born
and Aussie educated actor will be as big as he wants it to be. Add
another budding super star to the ranks of the crowded field of leading
men imported from Oz. What is it with Brown, Crowe, Gibson, Jackman,
Thompson, that guy from Avatar and the other divos from Down Under? Must
be something in the out-back water.
But I digress. Spartacus: Blood And Sand, it’s all good dirty fun and
sunny spectacle with a tongue in whatever cheek seems to be available. I
love it, so will you.
RM 4/14/2010 Previously unpublished.
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