The recent news that Spartacus: Blood and Sand star Andy Whitfield has resigned from the hit STARZ series due to a recurrence of the cancer he battled earlier this year was shocking and sad. Whitfield was stellar as the lead in the show and the recent news now leaves the show's future in limbo.
In a strange irony, the season one DVD Spartacus: Blood and Sand was released on the same week as Whitfield’s announcement.
The show, which has really put STARZ original productions on the map, is the cable channel's most successful original show and rightly so. All 13 of the episodes – which follows the forced slavery and exploits of history’s most famous gladiator -are full of manipulations, murders, fights, and fairly heavy carnal content, all of which add up to a Roman-roller coaster ride full of twists and turns.
While the show does follow the exploits of the Threcian slave turned gladiator, Spartacus, there is a myriad of other plot lines covered, and this does not add up to one minute of boredom throughout the entire set.
The series standout is John Hannah as ultra-ambitious ludis owner Quintus Lentulus Batiatus. Watching Hannah as he stops at nothing to climb the social ladder to the Senate of Rome is fascintating. Hannah’s Batiatus is evil, ruthless, charming, opportunistic, and charismatic - the character you love to hate. His performance is iconic in the way that Larry Hagman made a Texan tycoon so loveably evil some three decades ago.
Also, performances by Lucy Lawless as Batiatus’s wife, and Manu Bennett as Crixus (the nemesis of Spartacus), and Viva Bianc, who is beyond wicked as Ilithyia, are all outsanding as well.
A prequel storyline set of shows is reportedly in the can and will tide fans of the show over when (or if) it returns.
The set is loaded with extras including "Behind the Scenes" footage, a look at the training the actors had to go through, and (to lighten things up) a blooper reel.
All else aside, let’s hope Whitfield makes a fast and full recovery.