Sunday, January 17, 2010

‘Spartacus’ Returns to a New Arena - the Small Screen - Sex and Gore? That’s Ancient History

“Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” a retelling of the history of the famous slave and his rebellion, does not neglect any of these traits. It features abundant nudity, both male and female. (“In the early days we had a lot of conversations about how many penises we could show in a single episode,” Rob Tapert, one of the producers, recalled recently.) There is a great deal of simulated sex, of both the gay and straight variety. And the subtitle is not false advertising: the characters do not merely bleed; they spray great fountains and gouts, arterial geysers, that splash up on the inside of your TV screen or else hang in midair like red Rorschach blots. Mr. Tapert and his co-producer, Sam Raimi (better known as the director of the “Spider-Man” films), got their start with the “Evil Dead” horror-movie franchise, and the new show at times suggests their early experiments with high-pressure circulatory systems. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” Mr. Tapert admitted.

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