Remembering Spartacus

It has been 8 years since Spartacus first came to our screens, but the memory of the engrossing series still lives on, not just in our minds but in popular culture through merchandising and off-shoots.

As the name would suggest, the show was inspired by the historical Thracian gladiator Spartacus. According to records, the historic gladiator of Rome led a major slave uprising against the departing Romans in Capua.

Despite receiving high praise from critics and fans alike, the show was overlooked at a number of award ceremonies. This is possibly because it was to be overshadowed by Game of Thrones, another big-budget show of a similar genre.

Since the show was first aired in 2010, each episode has gone on to attract an audience of over 1.25 million and gained cult status in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the land the series was filmed, New Zealand. Each episode was granted a huge budget of $5 million to fund the shows much-enjoyed special effects. It’s no shock how popular it has become.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look back at Spartacus and discover how its legacy still lives on today. Jump with me to read more!

Perfect timing for an intriguing plotline

In the years that preceded the release of Spartacus, there was a growing appetite for period dramas in film and television. There was also an exasperation with the regularly recurring themes of traditional film and TV productions of happy endings and bland story lines.

That’s where Spartacus came in – with its historically inspired premise and its brutal portrayal of violence and intimate exploration of sex on screen, the show was something new and exciting for viewers to get hooked on.

The plot of the show was also one that was widely relatable, the battle of good versus evil. The story concentrates on the oppressed characters attempting to free themselves of their oppressors, Spartacus leading the violent revolt against the Roman Republic. This is an interesting story to follow on its own, but what the writers did well was have the audience question its loyalty to the main protagonists. There were, of course, plenty of sub plots that kept interest up throughout the series.
 
 
Imperfect Timing
 

 
Unfortunately for Spartacus, its success was to be dwarfed by Game of Thrones, which was aired on HBO 1 year after the first episode of Spartacus. The TV adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s bestselling novels was an instant hit with fans and backed by a big budget, making Spartacus come across as a poor imitation of the genre.

Had Spartacus aired a couple of years earlier, not only would it have been a pioneer in the genre, but it would undoubtedly have had more commercial success. The fact that Spartacus went on for another 2 years after Game of Thrones started is a credit to the writers and producers of the show.

The platform on which the show aired also caused repercussions. Back in 2010, online streaming sites were an unknown quantity and TV producers were constrained to working for traditional channels.

Spartacus took the jump and worked with fledgling company Starz, who did a pretty good job of marketing the show. However, Starz did not have the audience size of some of the big names in the industry, limiting the reach of the show.

In spite of these drawbacks, the TV show is now available on Netflix and is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance as fans look for alternatives to Game of Thrones to help them through the 2-year hiatus of the TV show.
 
 
Spartacus Video Games

There’s no doubt that the show is successful and as such has inspired the wider media market. A great marker of popularity is having a video game based on your TV show or film. In 2013, Ubisoft released Spartacus Legends on PlayStation network and Xbox Live. Whilst the general gameplay and graphics don’t qualify the game itself as a hit, it was certainly attractive to fans of the show.
 
 
Online Gambling

Nowadays, the biggest markers of success for a TV show isn’t necessarily in the winning of awards but whether or not an online casino slot will be based on the plot and characters. These online gambling providers are always looking for popular shows, films, and genres to base slots on, as they attract a wider demographic of potential gamblers.

This was the case with Spartacus, on which there are now online slot games inspired on the gladiatorial challenges of the show.

With an impressive 100 paylines, the Spartacus Slot allows punters to play as a Roman gladiator with real money in their bid to claim colossal wins.
 
 
Comic Books Rooting for the Show

Published before the release of the TV show as a pre-emptive gamble on its success, Spartacus has also inspired to world of comic books. Devil’s Due published a four-part prequel comic called Spartacus – Blood and Sand.
Each episode of the comic focused on one particular character from the TV show and was so successful that it was adapted into a four-part motion comic by director Kyle Newman a few years later. Having a comic book series promote the show before its release date is certainly telling about the excitement revolved around it.
 
 
Board Games

Two years after the initial release of Spartacus, Gale Force Nine announced the creation of their board game, Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery before launching at Gen Con. The game is designed to be played with 3 or 4 players, and every player starts as a Dominus with the overall goal of being the first to reach 12 influence points.

Bloody and brutal, the board game has several Easter Eggs related to the TV show and refers to a wide range of the show’s themes.
 
 
Will Spartacus Ever Return?

War of the Damned was the last in the Spartacus series, with the show’s producers declaring they wanted to end whilst there was still some hint to historical accuracy. Whilst there was definitely demand for another series and the guarantee of making a higher profit, producers wanted to maintain the integrity of the show.

The producers’ decision is one that should be commended in an era where TV shows continue for 3 or 4 seasons more than they probably should. Since 2013 there has been radio silence about Spartacus, with no hints or rumours that it will be recommissioned.

With that in mind, all that’s left to do is binge watch the series all over again on Netflix and try out that board game!

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