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I, Spartacus LOST

Having now completed my second pass through the inital season of Spartacus:  Blood and Sand, I know that there are two commentary tracks (kinda hidden on disks 2 & 4) for episodes 5, Shadow Games, and 13, Kill Them All .  These tracks contain quantities of information that provide fragments of exactly what I was looking for, helpful indications of the intents of the storytellers.

I’d like to thank Sam W for posing questions of my last post that led me to look for more interesting answers to the uncertainties we share regarding this television show.  Some of those answers emerge from the commentaries, and lead to more interesting questions.

I think Sam’s primary objection to this television history was the frequency of incidental carnage visited on people whose casual placement in the narrative is uniformly insignificant.  Perhaps I overstate Sam’s case by saying the show’s wanton and computer-enhanced exhibition of contempt for human life is a very reasonable objection that earmarks an entertainment aimed at vicious morons.  Maybe that’s an understatement.

I had faith in Steve DeKnight that greater value was embedded in this tale than that.  I still think so.

In Gossford Park, the hierarchical order of relationships between masters and servants is central to the revealed development of characters.  In this television show, the hierarchical inequality of all mankind is gradually revealed to be in bitter conflict with values expressed in the narrative, composition, lighting, score and with the ever-expanding, labyrinthine personal agendas of each of the major and minor characters.  And the deeper I venture into the complexities of this version of Spartacus, the greater and more interesting are, to me, the embedded references within the tale to trials of conscience, the development of consequences, interpersonal agendas in conflict; and exterior references/riffs/homages to putatively-objective versions of history, previous versions of this story, I, Claudius, Paradise Lost, The Sopranos and Angel:  Not LOST, which I find more than merely interesting.

Let’s Get To Work and Kill Them All before the next round of informal negotiations with the AMPTP.  Perhaps I’m overreaching, slightly.

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25 Sep 10 - Posted by | Uncategorized

3 Comments »

  1. Now that I think of it, Spartacus has more in common with the Holocaust narrative than any of the shows you mentioned. In the works of Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Sarah Przyzyk, people are grouped into camps against their will, their humanity is stripped from them, and the audience is encouraged to see what’s left. Viewed that way, maybe there’s more to Spartacus than I thought.

    And I think even the most casual violence in Deadwood reverberates throughout the show, and…holy shit, that IS Michael Parks’ son.

    Comment by Sam W | 25 Sep 10 | Reply

    • According to the two filmmakers, Ken Burns and Joss Whedon, Michael Shaar’s The Killer Angels directly inspired both of them to the creation of Firefly and The Civil War, respectively. Whedon also cites a story set in the Warsaw ghetto…so COOL! Whatever connects our personal dots to increase our private estimation of discovered value is invaluable.

      Comment by Scott Ellington | 25 Sep 10 | Reply

      • I’ve come to suspect that Whedon’s unspecified reference to an entertainment centered in the Warsaw ghetto may be Rod Serlings, In the Presence of Mine Enemies. And maybe that’s merely wishful thinking on my part; partially closing a pleasing loop in the byzantine, labyrinthine carnage of television history.

        Comment by Scott Ellington | 25 Sep 11


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