If you like your history full of sex, gratuitous violence, and buckets of blood then season four of Starz‘s Spartacus:War of the Damned is right up your ally. I love the show, not for it’s sketchy history, or kitschy dialogue, but for the sex and fight scenes. The show knows it’s no Rome (HBO series, fantastically fun show, go check it out . . . 13!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and doesn’t try to be.
“Epic Kills of Spartacus: War of the Damned,” gives us a look at some of the gory deaths and bloody action scenes we’ll all be hooting about in the upcoming final season of the show. Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) takes on the might of Rome when Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells), his son Tiberius (Christian Antidormi) and the young Julius Caesar (Todd Lasance) join the battle against the revolting gladiators and slaves.
Spartacus: War of the Damned premieres January 25th, 9PM Eastern on Starz.
I am not one for reading novels. Especially fantasy series. I’m that special kind of asshole that says “Meh, I’ll wait till its a movie or TV series”. It’s matter of preference really. I prefer seeing swords and tits on screen than picturing them in my mind, you know? Anyway…
A new book to screen series is in the works. Starz is developing a series based on Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, and they’ve got Ron Moore on board to write it.
Outlander spans the genres of romance, science fiction, history, and adventure. It follows Claire, a married WWII combat nurse, who mistakenly steps back in time to year 1743 where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world of adventure that sends her on the run and threatens her life. When Claire is forced to marry Jamie, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, it ignites a passionate affair that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
Let’s see here. We got time travel, historical fiction, a little romance… oh, and they got Battlestar Galactica‘s Ron Moore to write? How wonderfully outlandish!
Joking aside, given the concept, Ron Moore overseeing, and considering Starz past success with it’s epic Spartacus series, I think we’ve got a show that could potentially rival Game of Thrones.
Despite the near mass refutation of the Miracle Day season that aired on BBC and Starz last summer, I think it’s safe to say that fans would like to see more Torchwood. Sadly for those same fans though, Torchwood creator Russell T. Davies says now that it may be a while till we see any new adventures featuring Captain Jack Harkness and Co.
Davies made the comments while appearing on BBC’s The Graham Norton Show, saying that while Torchwood isn’t (yet) officially cancelled, it is however in “a nice limbo.”
Here are Davies comments:
“I loved making it [in the States], and I would have carried on if circumstances hadn’t brought me back to this country, so it’s kind of in limbo for me at the moment.
“I’m not working on it at the moment. I’m only working on Wizards vs Aliens — when I get back to work one day, I don’t know, it’ll be old news to the BBC then! It’s not officially cancelled… It’s in a nice limbo where it can stew for a while — those shows can come back in ten, twenty years time.”
Twenty years?! Till more Torchwood? Oy.
As I’m sure you’ll recall, Davies has been dealing with his partner’s suffering from brain cancer, which understandably has taken up a lot of his time. But still, one hopes that Davies doesn’t wait too long. Captain Jack may be immortal, but John Borrowman is not. One hopes that the delay isn’t so long that Borrowman needs to be made youthful through the miracle of CGI to play the part.
J. Michael Straczynski has had his ups (Babylon 5, Clint Eastwood’s The Changeling) and downs (Captain Power and all post B5 spin-offs) in Hollywood, but it looks like JMS is on an upswing again with not one, but two TV projects in the works with some of Hollywood’s top-tier talent.
First off, Straczynski is teaming up with the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith, as well as Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment partner James Lassiter, to create a series called Epidemic,which, from the sounds of it, is about some kind of viral outbreak. Maybe Joe hasn’t gotten Crusade out of his system and is looking to tell another character-driven drama about trying to cure a deadly plague.
But the most compelling project on the plate is called Vlad Dracula. Guess what it’s about! If you said a historical-horror blending of the literary Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker and his real-life inspiration, medieval monarch Vlad the Impaler, then you’d be correct.
If you’re not hooked yet, Straczynski will be doing the series for Starz and working with the Spartacus team of Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Steven S. DeKnight. Roy Lee (The Ring, The Woman in Black) will also be involved in the production.
Here’s what DeKnight says of the project:
“The project is a unique spin of the classic tale, blending the historical facts of the 15th century Prince of Wallachia, with the fictional Dracula whose story is known around the world and continues to fascinate audiences. “Vlad Dracula” traces his evolution from a revered ruler to the world’s most feared vampire, and his slow downfall as he struggles desperately to hang on to his humanity, his wife and his kingdom.”
Speaking of DeKnight, he seems to be doing his best to put Spartacus in the rearview after the recently announced cancellation of the sex and swords series. DeKnight is also at work on an epic space war drama called Incursion, which the writer describes thusly:
“Incursion, an epic science fiction action-thriller that follows a squad of soldiers caught in a war against a hostile alien race. Each season the battle will be fought on a new, exotic planet as humanity punches deeper into enemy territory. Grittily realistic combat, darkly complex characters and intrigue on a cosmic scale will permeate the tale of fighting men and women facing the pressures of war and an enemy unlike any ever seen.”
Sounds interesting. We all know TV is bereft of a good space drama so maybe DeKnight can fill the void. As for Vlad, I think we can all agree that a vampire series that has more in common with Spartacus than Twilight can be nothing but a good thing.
We all feel like certain things are promised to us — happiness, love, longevity. These things are the pillars of a full life, and yet sometimes they allude us. Andy Whitfield had career fulfillment as the star of Spartacus and he had love and happiness with his wife, Vashti, and his two children, but Whitfield was cheated out of longevity, passing away at the age of 39 after an 18 month battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
It has been nine months since Whitfield’s tragic death, but his voice can still be heard in Be Here Now, a documentary that was filmed during his illness in an effort to, according to director Lilibet Foster, “be helpful and inspire other people facing similar challenges in their lives.
It was Foster that Whitfield, his wife, and his manager Sam Maydew, entrusted with this delicate and hard project, a project whose subject matter she was familiar with thanks to her work with Stand Up to Cancer. Still, the Academy Award nominated documentary director clearly took a shine to Whitfield, and was hit hard by his death:
“The hardest emotional part of the filming process was when Andy took a turn for the worse. It is no exaggeration when you hear or read that Andy was a wonderful and beautiful person both inside and out, who I feel honored to have gotten to know.”
The goal of Be Here Now, is to remind the world of that Andy Whitfield, but also to show the “love story” between Andy and Vashti, and according to Foster, to show “a beautiful, poetic and inspirational film that takes you into and beyond the subject of cancer, becoming a life-lesson for anyone about living fearlessly, going for your dreams and living in the here and now, despite the potential outcome.”
There isn’t likely a person reading this that hasn’t been personally touched by cancer, and there isn’t likely a person reading this who won’t be inspired by the grace and resiliency that Whitfield and his family show in the trailer (below) for Be Here Now. So many of us know the toughness required, the value of joy and laughter in beating back this disease, and so many would likely benefit from hearing a story that displays those things — something that Lilibet Foster’s documentary seems to promise. Right now though, the film is stuck, and that’s why a Kickstarter campaign has been started to help fund the filming of the documentary’s conclusion and to edit the project for release.
Presently, the Be Here Now Kickstarter page has more than $35,000 pledged by more than 650 people, but with 43 days to go, the project still needs another $170,000. To view and contribute to the Be Here Now project, and help Lilibet Foster tell Andy Whitfield’s story in full, go here.
It seems that the epic of Spartacus is coming to an end after the forthcoming third season according to none other than series’ creator Steven S. DeKnight. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, DeKnight explained that it wasn’t costs, ratings, or even the untimely death of the series’ leading man that’s bringing the show to a close, it’s just simply time to wrap the story up:
“It’s a bit unheard of to end a show when it’s doing better than ever. It’s a bold move and we talked about it with Starz. How long do you run a show? Do you run it until you can squeeze every last bit of revenue out of it or do you end it on a high note? That was part of the decision to wrap up the show. The idea of ending the show when you’re on top and the audience still wants more instead of dragging it out until it starts to wane and you kind of limp to the finish line. I’ve always thought that five seasons was the perfect number; you’ve got enough time to tell a great story but there’s not so much real estate that you start to get a little flabby in the middle. This is ending a season early. Spartacus is a bit of an unusual duck. We’ve always had an ending—it’s written in history—so we knew where we were shooting for.
“My original thought was that this show could go five to seven seasons but we realized the actual history is very scattershot: the rebels went north, south, east, west, then back north, then broke apart, came back together. We thought, instead of repeating ourselves with one wave of Roman senators after another going after Spartacus, getting defeated, going after Spartacus, getting defeated, why not really condense the story. … It’s like The Princess Bride: cut out all the boring bits and just make the best, most rip-roaring-est tale we can to wrap up the series.”
The next season of Spartacus, “War of the Damned,” will premiere in January on Starz.
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.
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.
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.
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.