Spartacus Blood and Sand: Someone watched 300 and thought it could be a great formula for a series based on the Spartacus tale. Slow motion action shots, Greeks, togas, sword fights, weird barbarians and the classical era Mediterranean setting. People know enough from Ben Hur Spartacus the movie and Julius Caesar about that era that it is not intimidating from a historical standpoint. It's entertaining and fun. There is a nice roster of recognizable character actors. Lucy Lawless and the male lead from Sliding Doors are a married couple. The African gladiator instructor I have seen elsewhere. The setting and action sell the show.
They added one thing missing in other Roman-Greek historical movies/shows: lots of bare breasts. There is plenty of nudity, even some dudity (male rears) for the ladies. At the beginning of the second episode, the wife of Spartacus comes to him in a dream and mounts him. She then arches her back a bit, bosom exposed, and blood explodes from her head scaring him awake. The production company is going the sex and violence route, taking advantage of what premium cable will allow them. Smart. This is a guilty pleasure, nothing more.
This series has already been picked up for a second season.