Four Great TV Shows I Almost Ignored

3.) Spartacus

A few years ago, my father introduced me to a television show called Spartacus. The first season had just begun with a couple of episodes and my dad was watching the pilot on his laptop. I asked him what the show was all about and he replied: “It’s a re-telling of a gladiator slave called Spartacus who fought for freedom against the Roman empire. Also, It’s full of sex and violence.” Knowing that my father is fond of B-movie films like Zombie Strippers, I shrugged the series off thinking Spartacus was an apple from the same tree.

Years after, I decided to give it a a go during one weekend browsing through Netflix’s selection. Surprisingly, I was wrong about my initial assumption. Indeed, there was a plethora of scenes filled with sex and violence. However, it was well-placed since the show is set in an age where death spawns entertainment and debauchery was at large. At first, you might get turned off with its glaring similarities with the film 300 and the subpar CGI and special effects. Yet, as the story unravels with each episode, the characters,  rich dialogue, and compelling storyline effectively draws you in a well of anticipation for the next episode.

With a stellar line-up of talented actors in their stable like Lucy Lawless, John Hannah, Andy Whitfield, Nick Tarabay and more, you are transported back into the time of the gladiators. The characters speak their lines and intent through rich metaphoric language, as if they jumped out of a novel. In addition to the action, it’s the drama and suspense that pulls the audience in as the storyline keeps you on your toes. There is no such thing as permanent loyalty in a world where characters fight for influence and power among slaves and their elite acquaintances.

Spartacus, is now on its final season. Liam McIntyre now plays the titular role of Spartacus since Andy Whitfield died of cancer recently. McIntyre doesn’t carry the same punch Whitfield does, but if you are a fan of the series in general, it shouldn’t matter too much. You can either watch the first season Blood and Sand or watch the prequel Gods of the Arena first. In my opinion, Gods of the Arena was the best season despite the absence of Spartacus himself.

  • Sean Fast

    “Iā€™m into a very particular sub-genre of science fiction with the likes of Inception, In Time, Gattaca and Blade Runner. Iā€™m not really sure what you call it, let me know if you do.”

    Inception maybe is an outlier, but most of those are “dystopian” scifi. That’s what a lot of people refer to it as. Also, “cerebral” scifi is another term that encapsulates them, as like, the “thinking man’s scifi movie”.

  • trashcanman

    The best term is “conceptual sci fi”, I believe. It focuses on actual concepts and possible realities and is designed to make you think whereas “space operas” and the like are just “x in space”. Anyways, pretty brave listing Spartacus, Mr. Bedlam. I think the sex and especially the profanity becomes extremely comical in it’s over-the-topness (what with featuring a roomful of men chanting “MY COCK RAGES ON” and all), but at the end of the day that is a damn fine show. Almost like a more shameless Game of Thrones.

  • Draugr

    When I saw Once upon a time come up I though, ‘uh okay’ then Spartacus came up and I stopped reading.

  • jaromir

    I seen “Once Upon a Time” then read the comments…Draugr hit the nail.

  • Thanks for defining the genre guys, now I know how to properly look for the comics, movies, and television shows.

    I remember that episode of Spartacus where they sing that. There was one where Gannicus was singing it while he was on the edge of a cliff. Yes, I try not to take the sex and profanity too seriously… I simply take it as tongue and cheek entertainment. Oh, it’s Ms. Bedlam actually… but people just call me Benny.

    Well, these are the television shows that I personally liked. Just thought I’d share my two cents on why I enjoy them.

  • Postal

    Benny, thank you for this. I enjoyed reading it precisely because it suggested something a bit different. I have learned to enjoy a number of new shows, games, etc… because I read about them on this website. I don’t always agree with the author’s conclusions here, but I appreciate suggestions by people who are entertained by some of the same things that I am.

  • Thanks Postal, I appreciate it! I enjoy reading different view points. All of the shows mentioned above took a lot of convincing for me to watch. At first, I didn’t agree but in the end I walked away with new shows that I thoroughly enjoy!

    Which shows from my recommendations are you most willing to give a try?

  • Blake

    I’ll probably try Revenge, but I don’t agree with your statement about Revenge being better than Arrow. When Arrow is just in its 1st season series trial run with only 3 episodes so far. Arrow has taken The Green Arrow mythos and adapted it into a more potentially edgy show.

    Love Spartacus, RIP Andy Whitfield, not for the sex and violence but for the realism and the “us against the world” persona.

    And if anyone would like some recommendations for tv shows to watch, then I would have to highly recommend watching: NBC’s Grimm, Showtime’s Homeland, Starz’s Camelot, and of course “EVERYTHING” on AMC except Small Town Security.

  • I would just like to go on record and say I love Spartacus precisely for the sex and violence.

    Benny, great read! I agree with every single one of your choices. I, too, rolled my eyes at most of these and was pleasantly surprised to find them thoroughly enjoyable. Downton Abbey though, that I knew I’d like.

  • @Sara

    Thanks Sara! Didn’t know you were a fan of Spartacus as well šŸ™‚

    Yeah, I love it when you come in watching a show with neutral expectations and get blown away!

  • Krunk

    If you liked Downton Abbey, you might just enjoy Pride and Prejudice (not the movie). That’s where Colin Firth hit it big, and he’s not even the best actor in that show (although, he’s close to the top).

  • Deepcover

    OMG have you not watched Strike Back? The best show never to be watched EVA and if you have watched the 4 shows mentioned above but have not watched Strike Back you need to get right on to this as it is beyond awesome and has already gone down as the best show in my recent history.

  • Charlie Ward

    I know for a fact that at least two of these shows are. . .not my cup of tea, we’ll say. Makes me nervous about the other two.

    And shut yo’ mouth ’bout Arrow.