The Times Online has a very lengthy article about Spartacus and a review about the show.
The historical mini-series just got sexier
The article reads in part...
So, when Starz decided to dip its toe into the original-programming pool of gore, it turned to the producing team of Steven S DeKnight (Smallville, Buffy), Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spider-Man) and Robert Tapert (Raimi’s long-term producing partner and Lawless’s long-term husband). With those credentials, what could possibly go wrong? The answer: not much. Spartacus’s second series was commissioned before its first episode had aired — unheard of in American television — and broke Starz’s ratings record for Friday nights.
“The idea came up when Rob and Sam were meeting with NBC to work out how to adapt their huge film and TV library,” DeKnight explains. “They suggested reworking Kubrick’s Spartacus with 300-style technology, but it became clear the show they had in mind was too strong for terrestrial television. When Starz ended up buying the idea, they called me, and I was kind of mixed up. I loved gladiator movies when I was a kid, but I revere Stanley Kubrick, so I couldn’t see how you’d get close to the original. It’s too big a classic to take on.was saved from doubt by the immensely adaptable qualities of the rebel slave’s symbolism. Kubrick’s film was by Dalton Trumbo, a blacklisted scriptwriter hired by Kirk Douglas in the face of Senator McCarthy’s wrath. Trumbo penned the fabled “I am Spartacus” scene as a comment on the Senate forcing suspects to name names. In DeKnight’s version, however, Spartacus is a Thracian soldier who rebels against his Roman boss to save his wife. He is thrown into the arena, where he butchers a succession of professionals before being snapped up by the gladiator owner Quintus Batiatus — played by Hannah with the same resigned frustration he brings to most of his roles.
Clearly, there’s more than a whiff of Russell Crowe about that pitch. Unlike Gladiator’s nihilistic romance, however, where we merely chart the fatalistic slide of an all but suicidal widower, here Spartacus’s wife survives, and their slave status means the buying and selling of people in ancient Rome stands out as a subtheme — in as much as anything can stand out from the heaving breasts and savage deaths. This is DeKnight’s solution to his Kubrick problem.