I caught the Spartacus: Blood and Sand panel today, and I'm just going to lead things off by letting you know that I will not be watching. Not just because I don't subscribe to Starz, but because it does not look good. It actually has a decent cast, featuring Peter Mensah, John Hannah, and Lucy Lawless among others, and the story of Spartacus and the slave rebellion is fascinating. But remember Rome? Imagine if you upped the raunch and violence and removed the good writing. That's what this iteration of Spartacus looks like to me.
I got into the panel late and then spent about twenty minutes trying unsuccessfully to log on to GeekTyrant, so I wasn't paying very much attention to the first half of the panel. Here's what I did hear:
They're going to go further back in the story. History provides no firm answers on Spartacus' background, but there are theories that he was Thracian, that he had been a member of the Roman Auxiliary, and that he was married. No one is sure how he became a slave or ended up a gladiator, but the series will create some answers. They'll also cheat the historic timeline a little to include some crowd-pleasing anachronisms. Lucy Lawless plays a villainess named Lucretia. She has sex scenes but does no action. Pete Mensah plays some dude who's really good with a whip and says that training for Spartacus is harder than his 300 training.
Starz is aggressively marketing their entry into the premium cable original series game. Everyone at Comic Con is wearing a Spartacus lanyard around their neck. They also have a comic book which they're planning on animating. If you have any iPhone, you can play a Spartacus branded gladiator game. I'm sure that as the show's January 2010 premiere approaches we'll see Andy Whitfield (Spartacus) on every city bus.
And what you'll see is that Spartacus owes a huge visual debt to Frank Miller in general and 300 in particular. The short trailer I saw included a couple shots identical to the 2006 movie, including the now iconic slow motion jumping and stabbing shot. You know the one I mean. The trailer was all blood and boobs and thoughtfully included some hot girl-on-girl. I won't be watching, but I'm sure it'll be a big hit.