It's been a tumultuous journey for fans of Starz' original series Spartacus: Blood & Sand, what with the second season being (for a while) indefinitely delayed after star Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The next chapter in the tale of the famous gladiator (now portrayed by Liam McIntyre) is on its way, titled Spartacus: Vengeance. Judging by the recently-released trailer for the new season, it'll deliver all the gory gladiator battles and stylistic action that helped make Blood & Sand - not to mention, the popular prequel mini-series Spartacus: Gods of the Arena - a hit among viewers.
Spartacus was created by Dollhouse and Smallville writer/producer Steven S. DeKnight and features Sam Raimi and Robert G. Tapert (Xena: Warrior Princess) as executive producers. Despite the high pedigree of talent working behind the scenes, the first few episodes of Blood & Sand often felt like a cheap, made-for-cable variation on Zack Snyder's 300. Even though it offered plenty of stylish and gratuitous violence, sex, and nudity from the get-go, the show's digitally-rendered effects were often distractingly fake, and its mythological overtones tended to fall on the hokey side.
Thereafter, the show was quick to hit its stride, both thematically and from a technical perspective, becoming a massive hit for Starz. Needless to say, a second season was always assured, even after Whitfield's deteriorating health became a major impediment.
Now, with McIntyre having stepped in to fill Whitfield's shoes as the titular warrior, the series promises to become all the more action-packed, dramatic, and grandiose in scale, as Spartacus leads a gladiator rebellion against the Roman Republic - and seeks revenge against the man responsible for condemning his wife to a life of slavery and premature death.
Check out the NSFW Spartacus: Vengeance trailer below:
Vengeance will see the return of several familiar faces, including Crixus (Manu Bennett), Doctore (Peter Mensah), Ashur (Nick Tarabay), and Ilithyia (Viva Bianca). Craig Parker will also reprise his role as Gaius Claudius Glaber, who leads his Roman troops into battle against Spartacus and his allies. Finally, while she doesn't make a prominent appearance in the Vengeance trailer, Lucy Lawless will also be returning as the aging Lucretia - who was thought to be dead, following the Spartacus-led slave rebellion against the House of Batiatus, at the conclusion of Blood & Sand.
Based on this early footage, McIntyre looks to offer his own slight but noticeably different spin on the Spartacus character, rather than just attempting to channel Whitfield. He comes off as appropriately forceful, but his performance alone won't make or break the second season of the show, for most viewers.
Overall, though, Vengeance looks like it should be a bloody good time. Agree/disagree?
Spartacus: Vengeance begins airing on Starz in January 2012.