Network: Starz
Stars: Liam McIntyre, Lucy Lawless, Katrina Law, Craig Parker, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Nick Tarabay, Viva Bianca, Brooke Williams
Premiere Date: January 27
Why we’re excited: Even if Spartacus: Vengeance, the latest installment of the Starz network’s hard-R-rated, swords-and-sandals drama, is a real knockout, there’s going to be an unshakable air of bittersweet enjoyment to it all. Last September, after an 18-month battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Spartacus: Blood And Sand star Andy Whitfield succumbed to the disease, bringing a tragic end to an enormous talent and promising career, as well as leaving Starz brass without a leading man for its most popular original show.

Forging ahead, the network cast Aussie actor Liam McIntyre in the role of Spartacus, and, by the looks of things, he’s shaping up to be a worthy replacement. The title character’s gladiator rebellion will take center-stage this year, putting quite the heavy burden on the untested McIntyre to anchor one of TV’s bloodiest and most nudity-filled shows. Fortunately, he’ll be aided by several returning cast members, namely the one-two punch of hotness that is Lucy Lawless and Katrina Law. We’re going to miss Whitfield, but here’s to McIntyre and some old friends keeping Spartacus every bit as enthralling as before in the man’s honor.