Unsurprisingly, I really enjoyed Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
The first season was an introduction piece, which is probably why many people preferred the later seasons. Not that it wasn't good, but because it's not until the season finale when the rebellion starts, which is what I'm assuming many were waiting for when starting the show. And that's understandable. Most of the season is kind of slow and it was mostly giving us the story of how Spartacus became to be enslaved and training to become a Gladiator, his methods of survival and motivations for starting the rebellion. But I find that was is necessary to become more emotionally invested with his story, along with the other characters as well. It's purposefully frustrating since you want to see them succeed, but because they're enslaved for most of the season they can't do anything about the situation they're in, and even if they wanted to they risk severe consequences for their actions. And upon seeing what these characters suffer and go through, and there are some pretty heavy and depressing moments midway through the season, it makes the finale all the more fulfilling and satisfying when they finally fight back.
There's a lot of great performances from a number of talented actors, but the one that has to be talked about is Andy Whitfield as Spartacus.
Knowing that he passed away shortly after the first season due to severe health problems is heartbreaking. His performance was brilliant. He really brought the character to life, and he definitely had the charisma and presence of a leader. His life was cut too short, and he is certainly missed. I've already watched some of Vengeance with Liam McIntyre as Spartacus, and I know he's not trying to replace Andy (since it's impossible to replace him), but rather bringing his own thing to the role while still remaining true to the character continuation of the series. Having said that, it's still going to take me a while to get used to it, since I grew emotionally attached to Andy's portrayal of Spartacus.
As for everything else:
** I loved the costumes. Like, I have an unhealthy obsession with these kinds of costumes and I just want to have them for myself.
** The intensely complicated relationship between Lucretia and Illithyia intrigues me. I already know what happens to them, particularly at the end of Vengeance, but it's still fascinating to watch their interactions and how it eventually gets fucked up along the way. Oh, and their costumes are what I want most of all. And their hairstyles.
** Mira and Naevia. ♥ ♥ ♥
** Crixus/Naevia though, just, awww those two kids. Breaking my heart with their love.
** I love the rivalry between Spartacus and Crixus, and I love how they came to a common ground in the end which leads them to begin the rebellion.
** I've already talked about the equal opportunity aspect of nudity and sex scenes, but it bears repeating again. I would also like to mention that, aside from a few scenes that were meant to be seen as disturbing, I don't feel uncomfortable with the sex/nudity as I would in other shows that feel the need to only exploit women for strictly the male audience. And I think that it really says something, not just about this show and how they did things, but how the media in general should reconsider how they're presenting nudity/sex.
** The finale was perfect. I've watched it many times now and it never gets old.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed and loved Spartacus: Blood and Sand. I can't wait to get into the rest of the series.