RECAP: ‘Spartacus: Vengeance’ – “Fugitivus”

- 01-28-12Featured, reviews, TV Posted by Sarah Moran

Starz returns us to the ancient world of gladiators and Roman decadence with their third season of the sensational swords-and-sandals series, Spartacus: Vengeance. Picking up only a few weeks after season one, the freed gladiators who rebelled against their lanista and master, Batiatus, are now fugitives hiding in the sewers of Capua. Or, fugitivus, as the episode is titled.

For weeks they’ve been terrorizing the city, killing Romans and stealing food and supplies. But their rebellion is becoming weak, splintered, as the freed slaves are beginning to grow hungry and restless. The gladiators are split between two leaders with different goals; Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) seeks revenge for the death of wife while Crixus (Manu Bennett) is determined to be reunited with his love, Naevia, a former slave of the house Batiatus.

The episode opens with Spartacus leading an attack on mercenaries sent to hunt them down. They’re dealt with swiftly and gruesomely. On one of the dead soldier’s chests Spartacus carves a name. Whose name? Why, old friend Gaius Claudius Glaber (Craig Parker) the Roman army legatus now praetor responsible for selling his wife into slavery and eventual death.

Once word of Spartacus’ message reaches Rome, Glaber is sent back to Capua to deal with the mess he’s made. You see, Glaber was responsible for bringing Spartacus to Capua in the first place, where he showed promise in the arena and was bought by Batiatus, a power-hungry and presumptive lanista who sought to rise high in Roman society. Batiatus then blackmailed Glaber into giving his ludus patronage after his batshit crazy wife, Ilithyia (Viva Bianca) kind of-sort of murdered someone and Batiatus covered it up. For Glaber, being linked to Spartacus and his rebellion is putting a nasty stain on his fancy new praetor robes.

For Ilithyia, returning to Capua is like reliving a nightmare. The friendship she began with Batiatus’ wife, Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), almost destroyed her, literally. She was at the ludus, as were many of Capua’s nobles, when Spartacus’ rebellion began. She barely escaped and ordered her guards to lock the doors, condemning everyone still within to a bloody, bloody death. And guess what!? Upon their return to Capua there’s only one residence suited to Glaber’s needs of hunting down Spartacus, it’s the lovely house and ludus of Batiatus! Still with that fresh, recently massacred Roman smell. And it seems the residence is not completely unoccupied.

But what of the arena? Who will fight and die spectacularly in order to please the mob? Since Spartacus’ rebellion it’s clear the quality of gladiators has suffered, and the crowds as well as Capua’s elite are tiring of the boring matches. In attendance is Seppius, a young man of noble birth seeking to capture Spartacus and be honoured for it. He’s joined by his sister, Seppia and their relationship reeks of more than sibling affection. (Note: Their relationship was initially intended to be incestuous but the show’s creators didn’t want to appear to be stealing the idea from HBO’s Game of Thrones and their incestual power couple, the Lannisters.)

Back with the fugitive gladiators, Spartacus and Aurelia (wife of Varro, Spartacus’ only true friend at the ludus who Spartacus was ordered to kill) share a quiet moment. Spartacus gives Aurelia the coin he’s managed to save off dead Romans in the hopes she can find her son, leave the borders of Rome’s empire, and be free. It’s a nice sentiment, but if you learn anything from watching Spartacus, there are no happy endings.

Finally we get to what’s made this series such a hit, sex and slaughter. Crixus and Spartacus seek out a slaver to find some answers about where Naevia was sold. They enter a whorehouse and proceed to kill a bunch of naked people. Nothing’s quite a brothel buzzkill like having your dick severed by a pissed-off Gaul. In the end all they learn of Naevia is she was sold off to a villa in the south, but more importantly they learn Rome is sending an army to end their rebellion. A real Roman army led by Glaber.

Spartacus’ lust for vengeance takes over and instead of heeding caution and joining Crixus in his search for Naevia, he plans to confront Glaber while he makes a speech in the town square. Glaber has come to appease the worried crowds of Capua’s citizens, promising to end Spartacus’ rebellion swiftly. He brings forth a former Batiatus slave captured while trying to flee. It’s Aurelia, bloodied and beaten almost beyond recognition. In his fury, Spartacus’ attacks from where he was concealed in the crowd, seeking out Glaber. The two fight and before Spartacus is overtaken by guards backup arrives in the form of Crixus and the other gladiators. The reclaim Aurelia and escape.

As Aurelia lays dying from her wounds she makes Spartacus promise to stay away from her son for she, “would not have him die in your wake as his father and mother.” Oooh. Burn. After this Spartacus agrees to join Crixus in his search for Naevia, but as they travel south they will free every slave they come upon until they have raised an army. Then they will return and kill Glaber and every Roman standing in their way.

Spartacus truly is back with a vengeance and this season promises to shock us with even more insane, over-the-top violence, debauchery and sex than ever before. I absolutely love the tenuous alliance between Spartacus and Crixus and I’m sure as the season continues we’ll see them clash again and again. Liam McIntyre steps into the role of Spartacus as if he had been playing him all along. In no way do you feel he’s trying to impersonate Andy Whitfield’s performance, but come the end of the episode he is Spartacus, no questions asked. In our interview with some of the show’s stars, Craig Parker (Glaber), mentioned how the actors felt they were working in very different camps. There’s the slaves and the Romans, and I’m interested to see what different challenges the characters face in their respective “arenas.” Particularly Ilithyia having to deal with a deranged, but totally not dead, Lucretia. Viva Bianca and Lucy Lawless’ scenes together were definite highlights of season one and I’m only looking forward to more. Of the new characters introduced, I think the siblings Seppius and Seppia will be fantastic to watch. Incest or not. Who knows what kind of trouble they’ll be stirring up this season.

Make sure you tune in Fridays at 10pm on Starz. Below, watch the trailer for this season of Spartacus: Vengeance.

Spartacus Returns With a Vengeance This Friday! Stars Manu Bennett, Nick Tarabay, Craig Parker & Dan Feuerriegel Talk New Season

- 01-26-12Featured, TV Posted by Sarah Moran

Starz hasn’t had the same kind of success with their original series as say, HBO or Showtime. Camelot was canceled before its first season ended and even popular properties like Torchwood haven’t fared too well on the premium channel. But don’t count them out of the original programming market yet, their biggest hit is one hell of a contender.  Returning for its third season, a first for a Starz show, is Spartacus: Vengeance. Vengeance is the sequel to Spartacus‘ first season, Blood and Sand, which aired in 2010. Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, which aired in between Blood and Sand and Vengeance, was a prequel season.

If you’re unfamiliar with the extremely graphic, sword-and-sandal drama I’ll summarize: Spartacus follows an enslaved Thracian turned gladiator who leads an uprising against the Roman ruling class. The first season dealt primarily with Spartacus’ rise as a gladiator and his revolt against his master. Vengeance will see us following the escaped gladiators and slaves as they begin their rebellion.

Did I mention this show is graphic? Good, because it is excessively so, but that’s part of the fun. The show’s creators wanted a truthful interpretation of Ancient Roman society, and they nailed it. Spartacus is gory, like, really gory. But it’s also gory in a fun, comic book way with blood spraying across the screen. It’s also very graphic in its sexual content, another accuracy from Roman culture. For realz, sometimes this show could be considered soft-core porn. It’s dirty, it’s gritty, and it’s an all around fantastic show because for all its sex and violence, they’re telling a great story, too.

The first episode of Vengeance airs this Friday at 10pm on Starz (the first season is available on Netflix Instant) and in a promotional build up Nerd Bastards was invited to sit in on a press conference call with some of the show’s stars. On the call were Manu Bennett (Crixus), Craig Parker (Gaius Claudius Glaber), Nick Tarabay (Ashur) and Dan Feuerriegel (Agron). They answered a multitude of questions about filming, what we can expect from their characters this season, as well what the transition has been like with Liam McIntyre taking over the role of Spartacus. (Andy Whitfield who played the role in Blood and Sand sadly passed away from  non-Hodgkin lymphoma in September of last year.)

The guys gave some really thoughtful and thorough responses. Check ‘em out below the cut.

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Spartacus Vengence Extended Teaser Trailer

- 12-14-11TV Posted by Mark Poynter

 

Spartacus is back with a vengence . . . yeah, it is a little too early in the week for puns, but this extended teaser trailer for the January premiere on Starz looks terrific. Forgetting all the tragedy that this show has endured with the death of Andy Whitfield, there are still some amazing stories to be told.

Lucretia – the baby, her revenge.

The Slave uprising and battles.

Ilithyia – she has some payback coming.

Those are the top concerns for this NerdBastard. The show has been a great ride, the bloody fights, the sex, the merkins. Everything is set at eleven. Below is the series synopsis and the teaser trailer. 

Here’s the synopsis:

On the heels of the bloody escape from the House of Batiatus that concluded Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the gladiator rebellion continues and begins to strike fear into the heart of the Roman Republic in Spartacus: Vengeance. Gaius Claudius Glaber and his Roman troops are sent to Capua to crush the growing band of freed slaves that Spartacus leads before it can inflict further damage. Spartacus is presented the choice of satisfying his personal need for vengeance against the man that condemned his wife to slavery and eventual death or making the larger sacrifices necessary to keep his budding army from breaking apart. Containing all of the blood-soaked action, exotic sexuality, and villainy and heroism that has come to distinguish the series, the tale of Spartacus resumes in epic fashion.

Spartacus Gets “Thumbs Up” on Third Season

- 11-07-11TV Posted by Mark Poynter

Starz is showed it’s happiness with the success of the Spartacus franchise and ordered a third season before the second season of the series had even premiered. Spartacus: Vengeance premieres on January 27 and production on the yet to be named third season is set to begin in New Zealand in early 2012.

“Many surprises are in store for Vengeance viewers this year, but rest assured the multi-layered plot and richly developed characters will continue to be a trademark of this series,” said exec producer Rob Tapert.

Vengeance marks the debut of Liam McIntyre in the title role of Spartacus, in which he succeeded the late Andy Whitfield.  McIntyre is joined by returning cast members Lucy Lawless, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, as Crixus, Dustin Clare, Nick E. Tarabay, and Katrina Law. The most recent chapter of Spartacus was the prequel, Gods Of The Arena which aired in January 2011 and averaged an estimated 6.2 million total viewers per episode across all linear channels and on-demand viewing. Those kind of numbers have made the series a Starz favorite.

‘Spartacus’ Star Andy Whitfield Dies of Lymphoma at 39

- 09-11-11TV, WTF? Posted by NickBungay

Hollywood actor and 39-year-old star of the cable series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” Andy Whitfield has passed away.

Born in Wales and raised in Australia, Andy was considered by many a virtual unknown when hired alongside fellow actors Lucy Lawless, John Hannah and Peter Mensah to star in the original series from the Starz network. A series known for it’s sexual content and graphic violence Andy fit the role of Spartacus perfectly, a former soldier condemned to fight in the arena as a gladiator and ultimately leads a rebellion against the Roman Empire. This role showcased not only his athletic side, but allowed Andy to show his depth as an actor and portray a man deeply in love with his wife. This duality made Andy an instant star the world over.

Sadly, in March 2010 while prepping for the second season of “Spartacus”, Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodkin Lymphoma and began treatment immediately. In between all this adversity Andy still took the time to have fun, co-starring alongside Youtube filmmaker Freddie Wong in the 2 minute short Time Crisis. Earlier this year fellow Australian Liam McIntyre was signed to take over the role.

Andy’s manager Sam Maydew confirmed that he passed away Sunday of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Sydney, Australia.

In a statement made by Whitfield’s wife Vashti she called her husband a “beautiful young warrior” who died on a “sunny Sydney morning” in the “arms of his loving wife.”

The man was a true warrior to the end and will sorely be missed by his fans, but more importantly his friends and family.

Via: Associated Press

Torchwood’s Chances For Another Season Are Looking Grim

- 07-29-11TV Posted by Veronique Medrano

Torchwood’s light of hope for another season is ebbing away as Starz reports that, despite being happy with the sci-fi shows success,  they do not plan on renewing the show for another season.  Even though its premiere showed solid ratings, the show’s future is not as secure as some would suspect. It turns out that this season’s 10 episode order which was an unusual commitment for BBC, was only due to Russell T Davies involvement.  Starz CEO Chris Albrecht attests that it is up to Davies, and that

“… he has a lot of things on his plate. If Torchwood is at the top of his list, that will affect the future of Torchwood.”

The fact that Starz never planned to continue this show after the first season is slightly odd. I mean why waste the time, and energy to build up a sci-fi epic only to have it cut short.  There has been a reasonable amount of positive feedback about the show and continues to pick up steam. Do you agree that it should be left alone at the first season or do you want to see more Torchwood?

Leave your thoughts or comments below, or else a flaming stick will appear at your doorstep. (spooky)

 

‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’ Sneak Peak Reminds Us How Much We’ve Missed Captain Jack

- 06-28-11TV Posted by Sarah Moran

Captain Jack Harkness is finally returning to television. He’s been long absent with no appearance in Doctor Who since Matt Smith stepped out of the Tardis and his own series, Torchwood has been off air since Children on Earth in 2009. The surviving members of the team, Captain Jack (John Barrowman) and Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) return July 8th with Torchwood: Miracle Day on Starz.

With this eagerly awaited premiere all most here Starz has released an awesome 11-minute preview. Including great action, touching moments and tons of drama (as well as an odd intense, movie trailer voice over) this teaser has everything to bring you up to speed with the Torchwood team. Having made the switch to Starz for U.S. viewers, Miracle Day is presented as a good jumping on point for series n00bs and this sneak peak fills you in on Jack and Gwen if they’re unfamiliar. Of course, fans know the real skinny on Jack because, sadly, this promo leaves the fun parts of his history out. Which is kind of surprising, since one, the show is on Starz and two, sex sells.

Joining Barrowman and Myles are “CIA agent Rex Matheson (played by ER‘s Mekhi Phifer), his partner Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins), Dr. Vera Juarez (Arlene Tur), convicted killer Osward Danes (Bill Pullman) and Jilly Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose).”

Watch the 11-minute sneak peak below and let us know how excited you are for Torchwood to return. Has the wait been worth it?

source: Blastr

Bullets Galore! Anime Series Noir Getting Adaptation on Starz

- 06-19-11TV Posted by NickBungay

I consider myself a pretty big geek for Japanese animation, I still have VHS tapes of Gundam Wing littered somewhere in my house. So, when I heard about this latest news, even I had to go “wha?”.

The Japanese anime Noir is getting television show. Those that know the Anime must be thinking it’s some sort of reboot, it’s all the rage with production studios today, but they’d be wrong. This is going to be a full, live-action, TV show backed by Starz Entertainment.

Airing back in 2001, Noir was very popular among those with a hard-on for girls and guns in the same scene. While there are sites that cater to that now, the series did in fact carry an overall story:

Following two young women, Mireille Bouquet and Yumura Kirika — an amnesiac — as they seek answers about their past own past lives and how they’re connected to each other. Together, they form an alliance and go into business for themselves as assassins, using the code name “Noir.” Eventually, they run into a secret society known as Les Soldats (“The Soldiers”) that controls Noir, but then tries to kill Mireille and Yumura. Oh, and the two girls might be out to kill each other.

Being produced by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, the guys behind Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Gods of the Arena, Xena: Warrior Princess, and those little known “Evil Dead” movies. That in itself is exciting news. However, they’re working on an Anime, that’s almost unheard of here in North America. On the other hand,  assassins, boobs and bullets, how can you not lose?

As of right now there is no set time on when we’ll see any bullets fly, but it’ll get more then a made for TV movie kind of deal. Starz tends give shows on their network an 8-10 episode as a first season deal, plenty of leg room for the writers to work with. It’s being written by Steven Lightfoot, who will produce alongside Tapert, Raimi, and their fellow Spartacus producers Joshua Donen and Bill Hamm.

Via: The Mary Sue

Full Torchwood: Miracle Day Trailer Shows Bazooka Toting Cap’n Jack, Bill Pullman Being Crazy and a Ton of Explosions

- 05-23-11TV Posted by Luke Gallagher

Regrettably I haven’t gotten into BBC’s Torchwood yet. Yea, yea, fuck me, 100 nerd demerits, I know. It’s on my agenda. I’ll join the party soon enough. Though, I am debating if I should really bother cuing myself up with the 4 seasons of the Doctor Who spin-off. I think I’d rather jump on the bandwagon July 8th for Miracle Day on Starz. Besides, now that Torchwood is in the hands of a vastly superior network (aka bigger budget and access to better creatives), were assured programming that is practically guaranteed to be better than anything the BBC can muster (yes, I know it’s co-produced but still). Feel free to argue with me, but I think newly released trailer for the series speaks for itself.

Unfortunately, it’s from Access Hollywood, so there’s rather loud (why is AH so loud?), and obnoxious narration. Also gotta deal wit that annoying AH floating logo. Distractions aside, you got your first decent look at the series. Cap’n Jack running around with a bazooka, Bill Pullman being a creepy serial killer of sorts and and more explosions than you can shake a stick at.  Enjoy:

One day, nobody dies. All across the world, nobody dies. And then the next day, and the next, and the next, people keep aging — they get hurt and sick — but they never die. The result: a population boom, overnight.

With all the extra people, resources are finite. It’s said that in four month’s time, the human race will cease to be viable. But this can’t be a natural event – someone’s got to be behind it. It’s a race against time as C.I.A. agent Rex Matheson investigates a global conspiracy. The answers lie within an old, secret British institute. As Rex keeps asking “What is Torchwood?”, he’s drawn into a world of adventure, and a threat to change what it means to be human, forever.

“Torchwood,” premiering July 8, stars John Barrowman (“Torchwood”, “Desperate Housewives”) as Captain Jack Harkness, Eve Myles (“Torchwood”, “Little Dorrit”) as Gwen Cooper, Mekhi Phifer (“ER”, “Lie to Me”) as Rex Matheson and Bill Pullman (While You Were Sleeping, Independence Day) as Oswald Danes.

Review: ‘Spartacus: Gods of the Arena’ Premier

- 01-24-11Featured, TV Posted by Mark Poynter

spartacus-gods-of-the-arena-starz-poster-best-movies-ever

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena premiered last Friday with all the blood, gore, and gloriously sweaty full frontal nudity that any geeky fan boy or girl could want.  The opening retells the all too deserved death of Batiatus at the hands of Spartacus, thus ending the first season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand.  As Batiatus lays next to his wife dieing, his minds eye flashes back to the days before Spartacus, the days where the Gods of the Arena ruled his world.

While Batiatus at the edge of death dreams of days long gone we the viewer are treated to the opportunity to see many of the cast before we knew them, the chance to see that tipping point that drove the characters into those we loved to love, or hate in Blood and Sands.

If you are in need of a new drinking game for your party friends just play Spartacus: Cock and Drink. Every time a character says the word “cock” everyone drinks.  Last one standing after the episode wins.  First one that falls gets the magic marker treatment.

Overall this opening episode for Gods of the Arena was a great starting point.  Bring on the blood, the sweat, and the Merkins!

Couple of interesting things I noticed:

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