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Spartacus: Gods of the Arena Reviewed

Sky 1 HD

As far as TV goes, if you have an interest in any of the following: Roman history (of sorts), blood-spilling gory violence, unabashed, orgy-ridden sex scenes (not always conventional I might add), inventive forms of verbal abuse and exhibitions of great honour in the midst of a sea of betrayal, then Spartacus is certainly worth a watch. If, like me, you’re rather partial to a veritable cocktail of all the above then the show is, quite simply, essential viewing. Review continues below after Sky1 information…

How to Get Sky1

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is shown on Sky1 and Sky1 HD which you can get via Sky Digital, Sky Player, Virgin Media and Sky Ireland – here are the details;

Sky Digital Sky1 is available in the Sky Variety Pack, you can find it on channel 106 – this will be in HD if you have Sky HD or standard if not (same channel number).

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Virgin Media Sky1 is available in the Virgin TV M+ package or above, you can find it on channel 121 with the HD version on 122.

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Sky Ireland Sky1 is available on Sky Ireland, you can find it on channel 106.

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Sky Player Sky1 is also available on Sky Player so you can watch it on your PC or compatible mobile phone.

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Review continued…Spartacus made its much anticipated return to our screens last month, and fans of the show have already been delighted to discover that none of the gore, violent vitriol nor free-love sex scenes have been forgotten in the prequel series to Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Nor, I’m happy to say, has any of the taboo spiced dialogue from the first edition of the show disappeared from the writing here. Once again, gladiator stable owner, Batiatus (John Hannah) treats us to some of the most simple, yet flabbergastingly enjoyable discourse you will find on the box.

Though there is much more than obscure swearing to the script; the peculiar profanities remain one of the highlights with often coined phrases such as “Jupiter’s cock!” entertaining enough that they are slowly creeping their way into my own vernacular! As a character he is naturally more erudite than most others. Perhaps a reflection of his desire to raise the social status of his ‘house’ to a much higher echelon, Batiatus can be frequently heard uttering verbose and well-arranged phrases, asking his friend to explain a potential betrayal he quizzes, “And what does good Solonius receive to convince me to spread cheeks and accept deeper ramming?” Given the fact that fast paced violence and often faster paced sex is always prevalent, it is a complement to the writers of this production that they are able to maintain in the audience, such great interest in the words which their well-formed characters utter.

As is apparent in the first series, Batiatus and wife Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) are wonderfully phlegmatic in their scheming toward lofty ambitions and in the second episode of Gods of the Arena the audience was treated in witnessing a devious plan for revenge, so cunning, that one thousand Baldricks on speed would scarcely be able to devise it. Seeking to serve justice on the more youthful rival Vettius (Gareth Williams) and his sponsor Tullius (Stephen Lovatt), following the brutal beating they handed to him in the first programme (which memorably culminated in the prostate and semi-unconscious Batiatus’ being soaked in Tullius’ urine), Batiatus sets in motion a chain of events to inflict untold damage on his social peers for his own gain. The ensuing intrigue is enough to make the second half of the show the best period of the series so far, as plans have to be adjusted, modified and contorted to suit the whims of a recently arrived and contrived guest from Rome, Quintus Varus. With the help of Lucretia’s old buddy and now lodger Gaia, if anything, even more manipulative than her friends, they are able to sully Tullius and Vettius whilst wooing the man from the Capital, for Batiatus’ gain. In the most striking, if slightly perverted scene of the evening, Varus demands that champion of the ludus, Gannicus (Dustin Clare), having already defeated Crixus (Manu Bennett) at Varus’ behest in a demostration of the strength of Batiatus’ ‘house’, performs in front of him once more, though this time in a sexual capacity. In asking him to fornicate with one of the slave girls close to hand, he is also unwittingly asking him to sleep with the wife of his most trusted friend and ally, Oenomaus (Peter Mensah). Neither infidelity nor disloyalties are discovered come the end of the episode, leaving this one all set to boil over later in the series.

Such is the maniacal nature of the action and intrigue in this excellent production, it would be impossible to give a worthy scene-by-scene review for each episode but happily, thanks to Sky One, that won’t be necessary. You can catch up with any episodes you’ve missed on Sky Player and Spartacus: Gods of the Arena continues apace every Monday at 10 PM on Sky One and Sky One HD. I, for one, am looking forward to the latest addition to my Spartacus: Gods of the Arena entertainment vault.

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