Saturday, January 22, 2011
Spartacus:Gods Of The Arena
Last January the New Zealand made series Spartacus debuted on U.S. TV and became an instant hit --the kind of TV that could only be described as the ultimate guilty pleasure. The Movie Network picked it up in Canada.
Freed from network restrictions this one was awash in decapitations, lesbian and gay sex, wall to wall nudity.
The real secret was the star, former model Andy Whifield, trained as a model, who was a Thracian captured in battle and trained at gladiatorial college.
Also in it were Lucy Lawless as Lucretia and John Hannah as Batiatus and both of them fighting off cases of the giggles. Hannah's Scottish accent kept popping forth and Lawless bared her breasts to combat boredom.
Then Whitfield came down with cancer and the producers substituted this lame brained prequel which would show us the characters years before Spartacus.
It was intended as a six-episode stopgap until Whitfield returned from cancer treatment. But, alas, he's back in hospital with a return of the disease --a new hero will be substituted for next year's story line.
Gods Of The Arena opens with stock footage of Whitfield who is never seen again. In the closing credits, however, he even gets first billing.
There's been a new gladiator substituted in the person of Aussie actor Dustin Clare. He's perfectly fine but Whitfield is really missed. Continuing a series without the lead has always been a tricky deal.
The show was mostly Whitfield. Without him it drags badly. There's not much point except to use the expensive exteriors one more time.
Ratings should droop big time --but it's only on for six weeks.
SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA PREMIERES ON THE MOVIE NETWORK SUND. JAN. 24 AT 10 P.M.
MY RATING: ** 1/2.