The Chicago Tribune has a great article on the evolution of Spartacus Blood and Sand into a terrific show.
Chicago Tribune - 14 April 2010
As Season 1 ends, 'Spartacus' emerges as a gripping gladiator romp
Postive Lucy / Lucretia mentions
Sure, there are a lot of hot bodies on display (and yes, that's part of the appeal). But in the unsentimental world the show depicts, everyone is a piece of meat. Every person, rich or poor, is scrambling to get ahead or to simply survive, and the viciousness of the gladiator arena is more than matched by Lucretia's machinations in her villa. The way that she ensnared a snobby Roman noblewoman, Ilithia (Viva Bianca) and made Ilithia do her bidding was a thing of soapy deliciousness.
Let's face it, many of the most worthy dramas on TV are work at times. They're usually worth the effort, mind you, but it's great to have shows that work dramatically yet allow you to enjoy yourself to a perhaps unhealthy degree. Like "True Blood," "Spartacus" is a sexy, sometimes outrageous show that enjoys keeping the audience on the edge of their seats
Yet from the first episode, Hannah has simply owned this show. Batiatus may be a ruthless schemer, but getting ahead in Roman society apparently required the relentlessness of a shark. Around the middle of the season, I feared Batiatus and Lucretia were becoming a little too one-dimensional, but that was a passing concern, and in any case, Hannah and Lawless' skillful portrayal of ambition (and their deadpan way with a joke) always held my interest. These actors are about as well-matched as could be, and their facility with the show's intricate language is one of its many small pleasures.