Tag: Robert G. Tapert

TCA Tour: Spartacus: Blood and Sand

Although the new Starz series, “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” may involve a lot of guys and gals running around and committing all sorts of swordplay, you should in no way take the fact that it’s executive produced by Robert G. Tapert to indicate that it will in any way resemble earlier Tapert productions like, say, “Hercules” or “Xena.” I mean, heck, if the warrior princess herself doesn’t see any similarities, then anything you think you’ve spotted is strictly a case of looking too hard to find something that isn’t there.

“It’s totally different to me,” said Lucy Lawless, who plays Lucretia on the show. “Completely different, tonally. The fighting, the technology, everything has changed so much. I don’t recognize the fights at all. The way they do them is foreign to me.”

At the very least, there’s one element inherent to Lawless’s new gig that, for better or worse, her former series did not possess: lots and lots of sex. Despite the incredibly graphic nature of the intercourse, Stephen K. DeKnight – creator of “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” – does not seem to be overly concerned about how audiences will react.

“Well, who doesn’t like sex?” he asks, quite rhetorically. “I mean, seriously, I think we’re all sexual beings, and back in the Roman times, it was a completely different idea about sex. It was much more open and free, and it was pre-Christian constraints. So we wanted to explore all that, quite frankly. It was very common to have sex with your slaves. It was extremely common. So we wanted to explore that, too. And part and parcel is the sensuality of the human experience, and we certainly didn’t want to shy away from that. Is it graphic? I personally don’t think it’s that graphic, but that’s me. I think it’s beautifully shot. There are some very steamy things. You know, it’s not pornographic in any way, and the sex scenes almost always come from a place of character. There’s always something going on. It’s not just ‘cue the funky music,’ and they start having sex. It’s not that. Somebody is always angling. It’s always about power. It’s always about love. It’s always about loss. Every sex scene has a purpose. It’s not just sex for sex’s sake.”

DeKnight described the series’ two distinct sides – one sexual, one violent – as going together like chocolate and peanut butter, and while he may have been kidding a bit with his Reese’s-inspired comparison, there’s a certain logic to his position. “It’s a violent time,” he said of the show’s era. “Much like their views on sex, the Roman views at the time on violence was you did not shy away from blood. Blood and death, it was part of being Roman. You embraced it. You liked to watch it. And also, just the sex and violence is part of the show, but if you’ve seen the first four or five, the plot lines become incredibly intricate. We really play with the idea that everybody wants something, everybody is after something, and everybody is against everybody else. Everyone is maneuvering, and it becomes very complicated and messy, and out of that comes blood…and often sex.”

Well, fair enough, then.

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Greetings to the New Show: “13: Fear is Real”

I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the programming department of The CW when the folks over there first heard that the Sci-Fi Channel had beaten them to the punch in the field of horror-themed game show, but I can only imagine the sigh of relief they released after taking a gander at “Estate of Panic.” I received a screener of the premiere episode, and I duly handed it over to my wife, whose fascination with scary movies is, if not quite an obsession, certainly a bit of a hobby; after watching it, she duly reported back that she had lost a great deal of respect for Steve Valentine for agreeing to host such a cheesy show, likening it more to “Fear Factor” than anything legitimately scary.

Even after this disappointment, however, I was still optimistic about The CW’s “13: Fear is Real,” if only because of the series’ executive producers: Sam Raimi, Robert G. Tapert, and Jay Bienstock. Horror fans will no doubt recognize the first two names, with Raimi having earned his genre stripes with the “Evil Dead” films and then teamed with Tapert to produce such flicks as “30 Days of Night,” “The Messengers,” “Boogeyman,” and “The Grudge.” Bienstock, meanwhile, is best known in reality-TV circles as the guy responsible for bringing “The Apprentice” to the airwaves. In theory, it’s hard to imagine that you could bring this trio together and not come up with a legitimately scary reality show.

The premise of “13: Fear Is Real” as laid out in the press release is thus: “Thirteen people compete to ‘stay alive’ as they face their deepest fears in an all-out elimination competition and scare-fest. Pitted against each other in situations straight from the horror movies, the 13 will face shocking surprises, psychological scares and lots of ‘beware of the dark’ moments, all designed by a ‘mastermind’ of terror.”

So, wait, is this when we cue the clip of Count Floyd saying, “Ooooh, scary“?

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