'Spartacus' Podcast Party: Creator Steven DeKnight Talks 'Gods of the Arena' and What's to Come
Don't laugh, there actually is one. Steven DeKnight, the executive producer and showrunner of Starz's 'Spartacus,' worked on CBS' ill-fated 'Laughlin' during its short-lived debut season, and in the 44-minute Talking TV podcast he recorded with Ryan McGee and myself on Wednesday, DeKnight talked about how he learned as much or more from that high-profile failure as he did from his stints on 'Angel,' 'Buffy' and 'Smallville.'
Of course, the drama we talked about most was 'Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,' a prequel series that has its season finale Friday and has proved itself a worthy addition to the 'Spartacus' roster of gladiator tales. In fact, as DeKnight noted, some fans were angry about 'Spartacus' making a prequel series at all, but now there are complaints about the fact that the season is ending after only six episodes.
As for the season finale of 'Gods of the Arena,' DeKnight wanted to let fans know that it may unfold a little differently than they might have thought. As he explained, at one point, there had been a plan to bookend the prequel season with new footage of Andy Whitfield, the star of 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand.' That is not the case, given that Whitfield's ongoing cancer battle made shooting that footage impossible, but DeKnight noted that the character's "presence will be felt" in the finale episode of 'Gods of the Arena.'
'Gods,' which stars Dustin Clare as Gannicus as well as Lucy Lawless and John Hannah as gladiator owners Batiatus and Lucretia, had to do quite a few things in pretty short order, and it did them pretty well, in my view (my recaps of each episode of the season can be found here). It had to get us invested in several characters we hadn't met before, it had to give interesting texture to the backstories of characters we already knew, and it had to set up the events of the next full season of 'Spartacus,' which is set to arrive in early 2012. After what I thought was a slightly compressed start, 'Gods of the Arena' hit its stride about midway through its run and did all those things well. And in the podcast, DeKnight talks about how 'Gods,' even though it is set five years in the past, sets up the further adventures of Batiatus' gladiators.
Don't worry, there aren't any spoilers about the finale, though DeKnight promised the kind of intrigue and bloodshed that fans have come to expect. From what he said, it won't be quite as opulently blood-soaked as the 'Blood and Sand' finale, but it sounds as though there will be plenty of twists and turns in the 'Gods' finale. "There's always a chance there will be a couple of surprises and somebody will get it," he said.
As for the next season of the show, DeKnight said it will be "very different" from the previous iterations of 'Spartacus,' given that it will take place outside the ludus (as we discussed in the podcast, it will also have some new cast members -- Liam McIntyre as Spartacus and an actress to be named as Naevia). The creative team is working with "a bigger canvas," DeKnight noted, and Batiatus' escaped slaves will have to draw on new skills and abilities, as well as their well-honed fighting techniques.
Will the characters learn from their mistakes in the future? Some will, he said. But we discussed that question at length in the podcast, which I urge 'Spartacus' fans to listen to here, here or here.
For all my previous 'Spartacus' recaps and stories (including interviews with John Hannah, who plays Batiatus, and Peter Mensah, aka Doctore), look here.
As always, you can subscribe to the Talking TV podcast on iTunes, or you can listen to or grab the mp3 file from this site.
This week's podcast is also available here, as are full archives of every 'Talking TV' podcast. The 'Talking TV' archives are also available on iTunes as well.
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