Saturday, 2 February 2013

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena Review – Porn? . . . On My Television?

I know it’s an odd place to start, but the dictionary definition of porn is ‘the depiction of erotic behaviour intended to cause sexual excitement or, when referring not just to sex, ‘the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction’. 

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is both of these, and probably the most pornographic thing that's ever made it on to my TV . . . and I've watched Babestation.


Featuring gratuitous – and, at times, utterly ludicrous – sex, violence and language, season 1.5 of Spartacus is back in familiar territory for those who watched Blood and Sand. For those unfortunate enough to have missed out on one of the televisual surprises of the last few years, Spartacus is a boiling-pot of serious drama with lashings of grindhouse hot sauce.

At first glance, it’s a show that simply delivers decadent sex and violence, but, when given a chance, the audience are introduced to something far more grand and, at times, truly emotional.

What’s so special about Spartacus is the symbiosis of these two aspects; on the one hand, adult historical drama with conniving characters and deception, and on the other, explicit and utterly brutal sex and violence. Never before have I seen so few holes-barred (and yes, that also works as a euphemism) with regards to the mature content on show.

We are introduced to some fan favourites and also some new faces; with a special note to this seasons champion, Gannicus, who’s conflicted and surprisingly warm character is surely destined to return in coming seasons. The acting is stellar all round really, both from the brains and the brawn.

While Gods of the Arena delivers nothing the first season didn't, it’s a very successful expansion of the universe creator Steven K. Knight has crafted for our viewing pleasure.

Though not for the fain-hearted or the prude, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is something of a guilty pleasure. 

As a stand-alone season: ★★★

As a prequel to Blood and Sand★★★★