If you’ve never watched any of the critically acclaimed Starz series Spartacus before then I highly recommend you do…as long as you’re over 18 years of age and definitely not squeamish. From start to finish there’s a reoccurring theme, lots of flesh and blood and a get-rid-of-the-characters-before-they-get-old mentality. This last piece of advice is exactly what Starz are doing to their entire series as Spartacus – War of the Dammed is the third and final series in the epic adventure of the slave turned warrior. Many are amazed it got this far and I’ve often heard it being called “the best worst thing on TV”, although if you aren’t able to get it on any of your channels, it is being released to DVD very soon.
War of the Damned begins with Spartacus and his rebel army liberating Roman cities while the main Roman antagonists establish themselves as really nasty pieces of work. Throughout the remaining 9 episodes, Crassus, Caesar and Tiberius deliver on their promise of thoroughly rotten Romans. Amazingly for TV, some of it is rooted in stories that are supposed to have happened, such as Spartacus making ropes from vines and climbing down the cliff side of the volcano to attack an unfortified Roman Camp and the deal made with Cilician pirates as documented by Plutarch. Well, according to wikipedia.
There is one thing I have to mention…and that’s the lack of pronouns. It might sound like clunky dialogue but it seems to be a genuine attempt from the writers to recapture the Latin way of speaking but in English. They say phrases like “Put sword in hand” and “Do not remove eyes from target” these little touches always make me chuckle. They also use words like “gratitude” instead of thank you and “apologies” (of more often than not “’pologies”) instead of sorry. Here’s a brilliant post if you want to read more about the language of Spartacus.
There’s a lot of screaming in this show…lots and lots of warrior faces covered in blood and vignettes of wars and battles set to rock music. The new characters provide compelling viewing but the show definitely misses the presence of some characters that were left in the first and second series.
There was a nice homage sequence to Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 film where the characters create confusion by each adopting the name Spartacus.
Thankfully they’ve eased up on the diffused glow and the fancy effects (I was worried during Season 1 that they would edit themselves into bankruptcy). There is still a lot of both CGI and fake blood, so grind house fans need not worry.
The story of Spartacus the slave turned gladiator turned rebel army leader is one that’s been passed down and retold from generation to generation. The TV series from Starz is so dramatic, violent and graphic that you presume it’s completely fictitious but when you root further into the story, you realise that it isn’t as far fetched as it seems…which makes it all the more disturbing.