Spartacus: Blood and Sand on Starz first generated buzz thanks to its promise of graphic scenes of sex and violence and it definitely lived up to that hype in the first two episodes. But the series showed signs of potential, at the very least a nice guilty pleasure of soapy intrigue and stylized fight scenes, plus plenty of skin.
But as the first season progressed (Starz ordered a 2nd before it even premiered), what emerged was a tightly written and highly engrossing story of greed, power, love, and revenge. The series delved deeper into the characters and the story, adding much needed substance, all leading up to the incredibly thrilling finale.
The series proved to be fresh approach to the story of Spartacus which has been adapted to film and television countless times already.
And the driving force of the series is Spartacus himself, Andy Whitfield.
His presence helps boost the series, a believable gladiator and eventual leader, but with compassion and heart. As Spartacus, Whitfield was given the chance to show plenty of emotions from love of his wife to genuine friendship to anger and hatred.
Whitfield needed to be able to command the screen, but still be reserved and understated as Spartacus, through these 13 hours, builds that confidence that would lead him to the events of the finale. He excellently captured the roller coaster of emotions, through revelations and realizations and his ultimate decisions.
Definitely one of the reasons Spartacus just works and is a hit for Starz: Andy Whitfield.