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January 22 2010

Spartacus first episode available for worldwide online streaming. It's created by Steven Deknight (Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse) and other Dollhouse writers on the series include Andrew Chambliss, Tracy Bellomo, Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon. It airs tonight on Starz at 10pm.

Now way didn't I know that there were Whedon's involved!
Can hardly wait until tonight. Great anticipation for this show. Will be there with bells on - at the very least...Ha!
Wait, it didn't aired already?

So the 2 first episodes that I saw were some kind of leaking?
It's had some very mixed reviews.
People will either love it or hate it. If FOX made this they would have panicked at the test scoring, placed it on Friday night, not previewed the first episode online, ignored the social networking aspect and messed up the publicity somewhat. Starz renewed it, placed a lot of chips in, and have since sold it worldwide. It will make them a lot of money.

[ edited by gossi on 2010-01-22 21:40 ]
I'm excited to check it out... need some new shows to watch.
The premise (and the general critical reaction) doesn't excite me, but the writing staff certainly does. I plan to check it out.
Any other Canadians not able to find it on The Movie Network ? There was supposed to be free OnDemand previews of the first ep, starting January 12th, but I never saw it.

It premieres Monday, the 25th for regular airings (for Canadians).

I made room for it. Going back to DVD-only for 24 this year (it'll be really hard to avoid spoilers and I might chicken out in a couple months and catch up with the episodes OnDemand if I get weak/am less busy, but I'm gonna try). Big Love can wait until its season is complete, then I can marathon (Season 3 was its best yet, but I still feel like I can wait). Post winter/Xmas-break, the only returning shows I bothered with were The Office (why was most of it a clip show last night? Grr), Dollhouse, and Heroes (it better get canceled, 'cause I'm determined to finish it, but I'll keep watching it if it gets renewed for a fifth season, though all signs point to that almost for sure not happening). Definitely won't miss out on Lost's final year. Maybe watch The Pacific on HBO, maybe wait for later.
The show works a lot better after the first episode. There's an episode about 'The Pit' which sold the show to me. I think it's about the seductive nature of fame, and how fame isn't real. That's my take on the first few episodes. The premise is broad so they can do pretty much anything involving a bunch of men and women. But it's also specific - it's about being enslaved to money, people etc. Also much kudos for having a bunch of white dude slaves being commanded by a black dude. And having a guy go down on a woman twice in the pilot. I'm all about that.

[ edited by gossi on 2010-01-22 22:18 ]

[ edited by gossi on 2010-01-22 22:18 ]
When does the dude-on-dude (or at least the manly parts) start showing, which ep ?

Edited for the element of surprise instead.

[ edited by Kris on 2010-01-22 22:22 ]
Hmmmmmm entering 11/11/1111 means that I did not meet the mininum age requirement to view this episode. Starz you just made my list.

It will make them a lot of money.

It would need to. As I rarely get to see a review that says:

At this point I may be willing to nominate this as not merely the worst new series of the year, but perhaps the worst series ever

Wow, lots of Dollhouse peeps. I should be excited, though some of the reviews have me less than enthused.
Annoyingly hyperbolic comments/critiques like what Simon just quoted must come from people who have never seen many sitcoms. Or Charmed. Or [insert worthy bashable series of your choice here]. All right, so I read the article and see he goes into more detail about that opinion ("There have certainly been more boring series and more inept ones. But never has any TV show ever abused the visual surface of the medium to the degree that this one has...Certainly no large budget series has ever squandered its cash with so little to show for it.") So maybe he's right about that. Still gonna give it a shot. But the following is still overdramatic film/TV critic ridiculousness:

"At the end of the two episodes, which I watched back to back, I felt sullied and demeaned."

Really ? Really ?
(actually that part of the review kinda makes me wanna watch it even more--I doubt it'll be that bad and I dare a TV show to try to make me feel that. Granted, there're way more sensitive viewers than me out there, but I'm not made of stone. I cry at genuinely sad, earned scenes in film & TV, I cringe at certain kinds of violence. But this guy's review has an underlying feel of prudishness and, I dunno, inability to enjoy something testosterone-soaked, so I'm not sure if I can relate to where he's coming he seems to mention all the pieces of a puzzle other viewers--including Whedonesquers--seem to have already put together, that the excess may be part of the point/theme/message, but he didn't arrive at that potential conclusion himself, or venture a guess in that direction. Oh well, it's only been two eps for him, opinions change).
I'm quite looking forward to it honestly, I kind want to get invested in a fantastic fantasy world, and Mo Ryan says around episode 3/4 it gets pretty epic so I'm going to keep watching. Shows can definitely turn themselves around.

Let's not forget the other recent show that Maurissa and Jed worked on that started off iffy but ended up having some of the best hours of television, ever.
Worldwide streaming? Excellent
Watched the first two episodes, I can say it was educational: I've picked up a quite a few new swears and foul slurs. I really think they're enjoying the venue of a cable channel. It's a fantastical, "300"ish styled show, and in my opinion watchable.
IMHO, you have to watch more than one, or sometimes more than two episodes to get a handle on a new show. I was so enthralled with "Rome", that the idea of a series dealing with a like subject matter is very appealing to me. May turn out to be a bomb - Might turn out great - Who knows? Time will tell.
The Romans swore, killed, conquered, fought and fornicated with relish and this is what I expect to see. The telling of the story in the book "Spartacus" was a classic. At the very least, I hope the series will be entertaining. If it stinks - I've dealt with "I told you so" before! I'm off to my TV.....
Wait... does this mean they're showing the whole episode online for free? And will they post any others online?
Yeah. I think it is just the first episode, not sure.
It's Steven with a 'v' BTW gossi.

As to Simon's link, I think that reviewer kind of missed the point - he admits 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' is depicting decadence and excess but then blames it for being decadent and excessive. And the blood is so clearly stylised and deliberately over the top that it's hard to understand someone missing that element.

As to the show itself, I quite enjoyed the first two episodes, the violence is quite intense (lots of heads/limbs flying etc. and lots and lots of blood) but the fights are well arranged and, frankly, exciting (I know we're not meant to be excited by violence but what I know isn't about to change human physiology as developed over the last 1-2 million years). Don't have an issue with the nudity per se though at the moment it does feel a bit there for the sake of it which I mainly put down to a) it partly is "there for the sake of it" since it's partly about creating that idea of decadence and b) we don't know the characters that well yet.

"The message" (if there is one) seemed to me about excess and "bread and circuses" as a distraction for the masses (in totally unrelated news BTW, the terrorist threat level in the UK went up last night to "We need to scare you a bit more but still in unhelpfully vague terms") and maybe the uncertain nature of historical knowledge (they highlight a couple of times that Spartacus isn't his real name though AFAIK it's widely accepted that it actually was - which also serves to make him a kind of anonymous everyman hero) and if they develop any themes along those lines i'll be in it for the long haul - if not it might become "just" a guilty pleasure or I might get a bit bored of it. We'll see.
It could become the new Footballers Wives or Dallas in terms of guilty pleasure viewing.
Making this available worldwide was a great move by Starz. Finally someone realized that interest in a show builds worldwide these days.

I liked the first episode, but I really hope they either tone down the over the top amounts of blood or at least improve on the effects. The CG blood was so spectacularly fake looking that it became laughable and distracting.
I got bored trying to watch the first episode. There is an unexciting emptiness about the whole thing. Will give it another go though.
The thing that got stuck in my head was the hi-res photo of the protagonist in some interview/article about the series. The problem with hi-res photos is that you see EVERYTHING, and I saw stubble where he had shaved his chest and nipples. And it just made me go, huh?
Watched the first ep... wasn't thrilled, but at least they got the decadence part down. Kinda like watching Caligula all over again.
I don't get Starz, and I doubt that I'll be getting it just to watch this.
But I agree that making the first ep available online was a smart move to build viewership.
I kind of really badly want some UK channel to pick this up. I imagine the amount of channels that would actually show it be small: Sky1, BBC or FX. ITV showed Dexter late at night, but nobody cares about that. It doesn't seem to fit in with Channel 4 either.
Only having access to the first episode I have to say I'm not impressed. I'll give it a little more time, given that most of the Dollhouse writers are working on it, but hacked-off limbs and gratuitous sex scenes grow boring very quickly.
So did the Dollhouse writers participate in any way on the Season 1 episodes (at least the final ones) or are they only now starting to help with the development of future storylines for Season 2?

As for the pilot I am a fan of the historical genre and even though the inspiration for this was very clear, story-wise I liked it. What I didn't like was the whole cheesy, over the top stylization and crappy digital effects. I hope that the next episodes will be set mostly in interiors and arenas (no more attempts at creating epic outdoor battles please) and focus more on the story.
I was not expecting to like it, but I would certainly watch more, especially with the great team of Mo and Jed aboard. Of course the fact that I don't have Starz makes that somewhat harder.

I had a few problems with it. I did not like the potrayal of the Getai, way to inhuman Orcish, which reminded me of 300, which I despise. I'm a historian, historical mistakes irk me. But so far it seems more true to history than say Gladiator, so there is that. The violence was too... spurty. I prefer slightly more realistic violence.

People seem to be hung up on the sex, I thought it was nothing more than I've seen on any HBO show, and it is certainly on the level for those decadent Romans. Plus the ladies were pretty, and I'm not going to lie and say that didn't factor into my enjoyment. But the story was certainly interesting, and I think that some of the characters in particular are well done.

I am not saying it is a masterpiece. It isn't Deadwood, and of course not any of the Whedon works or BSG. But I feel it is on the same level if not better than Rome and True Blood, which I watched, despite both alternatively infuriating and entertaining me. And my main anger with True Blood (not enough violence for a show about vamps) doesn't seem like it will be an issue with Spartacus.

I'm not a huge fan of the CGI 300 esque backgrounds, but I think it is better than bankrupting yourself. I do hope this does well, particularly because I feel that if it does, HBO will be all the more motivated to pick up Game of Thrones.
I'm not ready to throw in the towel yet, but that first episode was horrendous. I'm sorry, but it was.
I've watched it now and honestly, I was a bit surprised at the reaction - True Blood's sex scenes are much more overt. The sex was there, as was the blood, but its all so incredibly stylized that I'm fine with it. The CGI was indeed pretty crap, though. Lost holds the bar for crap CGI on the tellybox (excluding older shows like B5) so it hasn't gotten to that level yet. I'll either stick with it because its no more mind-numbing that 90210 (which I watch) or forget about it until the critic people begin to love it even more... then marathon it.
This is not usually the type of show that I watch, but I thought the first episode was intriguing enough that I will continue to watch. I found a behind the scenes video on youtube for anyone that is interested.

[ edited by Animal Mother on 2010-01-23 20:36 ]
I enjoyed Daniel at Hitfix's review. Haven't seen the show yet, but plan to.
I've already commented about the sex and blood in that other topic, but even take all that out, I found it humorless and not really any there, there. Perhaps it will improve and I'll check in from time to time. What struck me the most? Whenever I see an actor I remember very well in another project, I can either be struck negatively or positively. It was interesting to see John Hannah as one of the astringent Romans, since his biggest impact on me thus far in film was Four Weddings and a Funeral.
The 300-esque style of it is at least unique for a TV show. Although I do have serious concerns that a show will be able to sustain itself long term with that style before people get ultimately quite bored or annoyed with it.

I was pretty much annoyed with it after 300 since I already felt like I'd seen it in Sin City. Then again, there may be that comic book demographic that truly loves it. I just find it very meh.

That said, since I almost entirely am attracted by story these days and not the affectations adorning it, I don't have much to say about Spartacus good or bad yet. However, the staff their putting together gives me the distinct impression I will end up loving it.

One thing that was interesting was reading one of Mo's reviews and reading her take on objectification in Spartacus.

Still, it felt strange to watch a show in which the men were the ones with their physical assets constantly on display. I almost felt guilty for objectifying the menfolk. For a little while.

There's a sex scene in the second episode that is (maybe unintentionally) hilarious. Basically, Lucy Lawless and her husband are so rich and powerful that they can't be bothered to warm themselves up for sex, so slave girls do it for them. The look on Lucy Lawless's face and what she does with that scene is just priceless. She's a really good actress, I had no idea.

Other than that scene, though, I quickly got bored and stopped watching a few minutes later.
Haven't seen this yet, but it's nice that they're streaming it worldwide. I hope it catches on.
Andrew and Tracy worked on season one for a period.

And the second episode is a better representation of the week to week series, I thought. It's more tell, less showy.
Thanks for the info, gossi.

Btw, will Andrew and Tracy work also on the second season or did they move to something else?
Some of the dialog in the pilot reminds me of "Showgirls," of all things: unintentionally hilarious. Good camp fun.
Just watched the second episode and while I agree with gossi as far as "more tell, less showy," still couldn't really get into it. Spartacus seems to have 2 emotions; monotone and rage. Thought the Roman slave fluffers were a nice decadent touch.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2010-01-25 00:16 ]
Steven S. DeKnight said "The reaction has been wildly polarized. Many people love it, and just as many HATE IT with an insane, hysterical passion. I mean crazy, vitriolic hatred. But the good news is everyoe's talking about it. And as those of us who worked on Spartacus know, the show gets exponentially better until we finally find our footing in ep 4. So overall we're off to a rocky start, but I believe we'll win people over as we move forward and they realize that there's going to be more to it than just blood and boobs."

"just blood and boobs" was exactly my thought as the episode finished. However I will watch it again.

[ edited by Marsia on 2010-01-25 07:16 ]
Wouldn't be the first series to start with style/basics and open up to reveal more substance/complexity.
If I had given up on True Blood after the widely panned pilot, I would have missed out on one of the most entertaining shows in years.
Yeah the 'True Blood' pilot was pretty terrible but the show's turned out to be a lot of fun. 'Spartacus' may well go the same way.
Having watched the first episode I can say it was at best meh. There was so much nudity I was convinced it was made by a bunch of 15 year olds giggling the whole time they were writing it. I like nudity as much as the next guy but there's a point where even I think it was too much and this show crossed that line often. The fight at the end of the episode was good though and it has Lucy Lawless so I'll give it another episode or two.

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