Spartacus: Blood and Sand first two episodes, The Red Serpent and Sacramentum Gladiatorum, are far too reliant on its fight scenes and gore. Spartacus: Blood and Sand is Rome-lite. The CGI backgrounds, rather than ameliorating the show, hurt the show as they are used too much. In Rome, the environments were real (which caused the show’s premature demise).
The first episode of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, The Red Serpent, is not great but neither was the first episode of Rome. By the second episode, Sacramentum Gladiatorum, not much has changed except for the introduction except for more nudity and blood. These would be good things if the story was there but it isn’t. Not yet.
The producers of Spartacus: Blood and Sand are trying to make the show too much like 300, right down to the costumes, (why are they half naked in the freezing cold while it is snowing?) the scene where the Thracians leave to fight the Get-ti and the fight scenes slow motion dismemberment. There is too much video game blood splatter. Seventy-five percent of the battles are like cartoons, with added blood wallpapers springing up, covering the screen. What they should have remembered about 300 is that apart from that films’ fight scenes, 300 is pretty vapid. They would have been better off copying Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ (great book), its Charlton Heston film incarnation or used Howard Fast’s Spartacus (a good book by the way) as their baseline. They even have Peter Mensah from 300 on the show as gladiator Doctore. Show producers are trying to garner the mass audience that flocked to see 300 in theater, which from a PR perspective is a good thing. Story-wise, it is a bad thing. Their strategy may have worked though since the show has already been renewed for a second season.
Spartacus: Blood and Sand does have its good points. Glaber (Craig Parker) is acted well but Spartacus (Andy Whitfield) is not very compelling yet but that is because of the way his character is written. Hopefully that will change in time. Show writers have two seasons to work on him.
There are copious amounts of nudity for fans of Lucy Lawless (Battlestar: Galactica) and Erin Cummings (Bitch Slap) and most likely, all the women that will appear on the show, another similarity with Rome although with Rome, men appeared in full frontal scenes as well. The red wig Lucy Lawless wears is unfortunate as it looks fake. She should have dyed her hair like Erin Cummings did.
I also like the inclusion of the Latin terms: lanista, ludus, and gladiatorum from Fast’s book and the Rome soldier costumes are well done.
The fight scenes are entertaining yet the show should not be built around them as they seem to be now. The show would be better served if it were built around drama and strong storylines. Currently you are waiting for the next fight scene to happen on screen.