“Camelot”: The Complete First Season
Nights with the Round Table
I have always loved the stories of King Arthur and I remember reading the stories when I was a kid. As I grew older, I continued to love the stories when when one of my college professors said that the whole business might never have happened and that it was very possible that it was all myth and there never was a King Arthur. To make matters even more interesting, I read a book last week that maintains that King David of the Jewish Bible and King Arthur were both mythological. I went through a period of reading everything about Arthur that I could find and I so looked forward to Starz’ new series, “Camelot”. Unlike others who have written reviews, I have actually enjoyed season one but then again, I wanted to enjoy it.
The series begins after the sudden death of King Usher and chaos starts to take over Britain. Merlin, the magician, has a vision of a dark future and he places Arthur on the throne ever though he is very young and has been raised as a commoner. Arthur was the unknown son of Uther and his cold sister, Morgan decides to fight him for the throne and there is a major battle that includes paranormal influences. Guinevere is the only shining light in Arthur’s life and he is faced with decisions and challenges about uniting England, a country that is torn by war and filled with deception. Arthur will face tests beyond everyone’s imagination and we see a story of Camelot that we have never seen.
When King Uther dies under mysterious circumstances, his sorceress daughter Morgan (Eva Green) seems the likely heir. But cunning Merlin (Joseph Fiennes), who is having visions of foreboding, has a big secret to reveal. Uther had an illegitimate son Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower) who has been raised on an idyllic country farm. Merlin brings the boy to court and starts to build a new kingdom around Arthur–a rule that hopes to combine the disparate and warring factions of the land. The boy seems an unlikely leader but is soon learning the laws of the land while establishing new ones. His rule is challenged in many ways, most subversively by his own sister Morgan.
Morgan begins and ends every scene with a glower, and we actually begin to look for her and root for her success over Arthur. Her plots and machinations, in cahoots with some intriguingly complex female advisers, provide much fun and menace to the series. Fiennes seems to be having fun with his role–a cross between genius and madman–and is certainly one of the more unpredictable Merlins that we will ever see. The sets, costumes, and production values are excellent and everything moves along nicely.
The idea behind “Camelot” is not a bad one, and even the rewriting of Arthurian lore (the origins of Excalibur) isn’t that bad. But there is a problem in the execution. This series wants to be a plot-heavy, gritty, and authentic but art times it just comes across as silly. This is one of those series where the costumes, sets, etc. are special and important. Many are not happy with the series for a variety of reasons but for me, it is just what I needed to brighten my life.
- Posted in: Film