It’s with great pleasure that my partner enjoys the same TV shows as I do. Having introduced her to Chuck we spent many nights watching it and conversing over just about everything that happened. With Chuck sadly ended I introduced her to the first two series of Spartacus (Gods of the Arena and Blood & Sand, for those not in the know) and convinced her that the third series would be great too. However, after the unfortunate and untimely death of Andy Whitfield cracks began to appear in the overall plan for the highly anticipated third series and she now continuously reminds me of how wrong I seem to have been.
The choosing of Liam McIntyre as the titular hero appeared to be a wrong choice, though as he was personally chosen by Whitfield himself could they really have justified not choosing him? As an actor McIntyre is fantastic; he has a great look, great mannerisms and shiny hair; but as Spartacus he simply isn’t commanding enough of the audience and is simply not convincing as a leader of anything other than a college frat house. Let’s not take away from the fact he has had big shoes to fill; Whitfield, whilst not the sort of physical specimen a la Manu Bennett’s Crixus, he had the look that made you believe in his character; but Liam McIntyre doesn’t carry any of the traits that made Whitfield so likeable. That’s the other thing; McIntyre’s Spartacus is a bit of a dick – Whitfield’s was a good guy who did what he had to do to get the job done.
While this isn’t a berration of McIntyre whatsoever, it shows that the producers have started on the wrong foot. I’ve given Spartacus Vengeance five episodes now to put itself right (I was hoping that the return of Gannicus to the fold would prove a step towards the right path, but it instead proved somewhat anticlimatic.), but it simply hasn’t happened.
Every fan of the show knows that the killing off of John Hannah’s Batiatus was about the worst move the writers/ producers could have possibly made (short of killing off Spartacus himself or replacing Andy Whitfield with a woman – mind you, the former would have at least proved interesting!) and now they find the series suffering because of it. Bringing back Lucretia was great, but without Hannah’s cocky, brash and downright malevolent character to back her up she’s ended up as nothing more than a lost puppy.
But what irks me more than anything is that the first two series were at least historically accurate; Vengeance is farsical at best! It was ok to change Oenomaus from being a white Gaul to a Black African as Peter Mensah is simply incredible, but to suggest he ran away and ended up in the arena fighting alongside Crixus and the other Gaul as a method of their execution, only for Spartacus and his band to show and and save the day (not to mention burning down the arena itself!) is just downright ludicrous! As a geek for ancient Roman and Greek history it annoys me that they are not portrayed as leaders of the slave rebellion, equal in merit to Spartacus. It’s ok to ply Spartacus as the overall hero-cum-leader type but at least give these other powerful characters their due. Crixus and Oenomaus have been two of my favourite characters throughout all three series – Bennett and Mensah have an immense presence and that needs to be exploited if Vengeance is to recover at all.
I still have a little faith that the series will get better – it’s only natural to expect teething problems when several cast changes are made, but part of me knows that it simply won’t. It seems to me that the writers got cocky and carried away, had too many ideas and have tried to squeeze them all in, hoping that by flooding them in together one will stick and work.
Perhaps this is just another rant on my part but I’m fed up of my favourite TV shows, movies and games being ruined by bad planning and poor execution. For it’s sake, I hope that Vengeance recovers otherwise they can kiss that fourth series goodbye.
Rant over… for now!