This series wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the movie 300, as it has the same stylized violence and scenery. In the first episode, the warrior who will become "Spartacus" (Andy Whitfield) is fighting with the Romans to fend back a tribe of wild men who worship wolves. But when the Romans change plans and want his tribe of Thracians to fight in another war, they refuse. So they fight these Romans. Afterwards, he goes back to his beautiful wife. But the next day those same Romans capture. He awakens on a slave ship and is being taken to Capua, where he's forced to fight in the Arena. He is told his wife was sold into slavery. He dreams of her and vows to get her back. In the second episode, he's forced to train as a gladiator and given the name Spartacus, though that's not his name. His new master is Batiatus (John Hannah), whose business is training the fighters. He's married to Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), who is as ruthless and conniving as he is.
Spartacus' nemesis is Crixus (Manu Bennett of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT), who is the champion of Capua. The two men just don't get along. In an episode where he's forced to fight in the pits, where everything goes, it's like a cross between BEYOND THUNDERDOME and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. The main guy he goes against skins the faces off his slain opponents and then wears them during the next fight. Then, when he and Crixus arematched against a mighty opponent, things get even weirder. The guy looks like a hairless sasquatch, albino and about nine feet tall. There are plenty of interesting characters, exaggerated soap-opera-like shenanigans and more blood and chopped body parts than all the SAW movies combined. It's sort of hypnotic, really. In the end, everyone gets what they deserve and you'll be rooting for the gladiators in the last episode. This series is highly recommended.