TV Review: “Spartacus: War of the Damned” – Steady As She Goes

Written by Jesse Gelinas March 01, 2013

Liam McIntyre as Spartacus on "Spartacus: War of the Damned"Not Maximus Decimus Meridius, but he will have his vengeance

Historical epics have a fine line to walk on television. A perfect balance must be struck between political intrigue, and violent action, chivalrous romance, and heroic manliness. “Spartacus” does not concern itself with such paltry things. “Spartacus: War of the Damned” looks to fill that special void in the modern man’s being. When we left the jungle, we left behind our ability to hunt down a wild beast and devour its flesh with our cave-brethren. When Rome was sacked and our cities evolved, we left behind more of our primitive nature. “Spartacus” helps bring that nature back. Swords, axes, sweat, dicks, tits, olive oil. This show has it all, and in very odd proportions. With its third season underway, “Spartacus” is finally coming to a end, but not with the biggest bang it could be.

“Spartacus” follows the famous Thracian slave (Liam McIntyre) as he rises through the ranks of the gladiators, eventually leading a rebellion that becomes a revolution. In “War of the Damned”, Spartacus’ army now numbers in the thousands and he is taking the fight to Rome. We’re now seeing a lot more recognizable characters from history, and I use “recognizable” very loosely. The show is by no means an accurate portrayal of events. Style rules here and we’re treated to blood, boobs, and bros nonstop, and no one is excluded from the festivities.

Julius Caesar is a f*%@ing ninja!

This show is not trying to be a masterpiece. The first season did get better along the way, but it has never learned not to rely on its signature dick & tits combo. I think it’s their way of appealing to men AND women, or maybe they just saw “Rome” and decided to go further with the “cultural accuracy”. They also introduce some fun interpretations on the classics. We meet Julius Caesar as a hardcore maverick who beats people to a pulp with his bear hands. I suppose it’s in keeping with the over-the-top nature of the series, but my God. There’s artistic licence, and there’s just plain fiction. It’s like turning Abe Lincoln into a vampire hunter.

Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Naevia on "Spartacus: War of the Damned"

The show does have its merits. For what the writing calls for, the actors all manage to get through the plot without looking ridiculous (well-oiled pecs and acrobatic sex aside). My only complaint here would be Spartacus himself, McIntyre. He’s just not a good stand-in for Andy Whitfield. Perhaps if I’d never seen Whitfield in the role I’d feel differently, but regardless, McIntyre does his best. It’s not quite up to snuff with some of his costars, and he is easily upstaged frequently. Only John Hannah managed that in season one.

Dicks. Dicks everywhere.

“War of the Damned” is not going to be some saving grace that breaks “Spartacus” into the Hall of Champions, but it will be a relatively solid showing of pure entertainment that runs on pure testosterone. It’s dumb, but harmless. There’s fun to be had here, but the loss of some entertaining cast members has certainly been felt. We’ll have to see how the season pans out, and perhaps the end of this rebellion can have a slightly happier ending than the last one. We can’t put it past the producers to give the people what they want. After all, are we not entertained?

My Rating: 7/10

Poster for "Spartacus: War of the Damned"

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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