You gotta feel a little bad for the kiddies at the Starz Network. Their one runaway break-out hit, “Spartacus: Blood and Sand”, and before they can roll out the second season to capitalize on the killer season one finale, the star has to go back to the hospital for more cancer treatment. (Read all about “Spartacus” star Andy Whitfield’s medical travails here.)
Now with their star unavailable for the immediate future (and possibly for longer than that), the network is exploring other possibilities to keep the show alive. The biggest gamble? Recasting the role of Spartacus with a new actor.
Whitfield is said to be cool with getting recast on the show, since he seems to have accepted that he won’t be coming back to the role anytime soon, if ever. And with the “Spartacus” prequel mini-series “Gods of the Arena” about to wrap up production, the network has about eight weeks to decide what to do with the second season. Fire everyone, delay production again, or simply move on with a new actor in the role?
There is a second, though more unlikely option, and that’s to fashion the show around a new central character. That, though, is a longshot, and wouldn’t make much sense unless they plan to change the title of the show. As I said pervious, a “Spartacus” show without Spartacus wouldn’t be, well, “Spartacus”.
But at this point, it’s either recast or reshape the show. The only other option would be to shut down production and move on, which wouldn’t make much sense from a business point of view, and TV is, lest you forget, a very expensive business. It’s hard enough getting a hit show on the air, who in their right mind voluntarily cancels a hit show when it hasn’t even hit its strides yet?
Which leaves the question: would you watch a “Spartacus” show without Andy Whitfield? Or is the show the thing, not the actor?