4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Awesome Arthur!: What is everybody moaning about?,
This review is from: Camelot - Season 1 (New Packaging) [DVD] (DVD)
Most of the reviews of Camelot have been fairly negative, calling it a whimsical attempt to challenge Game of Thrones as well as criticizing Jamie Campbell Bower as Arthur and generally labelling the series a ridiculous adaption of Arthurian legends. The comments about it being a poor challenge to Game of Thrones are relevant but only because Game of Thrones is an exceptional series, and it would take a very standard of television drama to match HBO's production. It is no insult to Camelot therefore to negatively compare it to the more or less unmatchable Game of Thrones, and this review praises, rather than insults, starz Arthurian drama.
Camelot is a version of King Arthur unlike any ever seen before on TV and it is this that causes some of its negatives. Lancelot is replaced by a character called Leontes, who is so noble and good its annoying; Merlin is given a ridiculous make over, looking more like a cross between an Anglo-Saxon war general and Obi-Wan-Kenobi as opposed to the Grey Mystic of legend; and there are plot lines that have been absent from previous Arthurian tales that are very slow and silly, such as Morgana le Fey (or in this series "Morgan Pendragon") acting like a good queen. Overall however, the show is vastly superior to recent adaptions of Arthurian legends, keeping some of the key plot-lines of the tales with some of the new characters and plot-lines adding to the positives of the series.
The characterization and acting is generally excellent. Eva Green is magnificently wicked as Morgan Pendragon, providing everything fans of Arthurian stories could expect Morgan to be in terms of physical appearance and character, and Green arguably gives the finest performance of Morgana than any other actor in film or television history (better even than Helen Mirren I dare say!). Also, Jamie Campbell Bower actually gives an appropriate performance as a King Arthur struggling to keep his family and kingdom together. Bower has been criticized for being to whimpish as Arthur but this fits well in the context of Arthur's character as a boy who has automatically become a king and struggles to become a man. Some of the newer or more enhanced characters also add emphasis. Sir Ector, Sir Kay and Lady Igraine are given more characterization than has been granted them in previous Arthurian adaptions, with Kay and Igraine being two of the stand-out heroes of the show, and there is an excellent plot re-working between Sir Ector and King Lot (played by the ever brilliant James Purefoy!). Sir Brastius also deserves a mention for being one of the most hilarious knights in Arthurian adaptions, despite only having greater involvement in the series latter episodes.
On this note, the overall plot lines of Camelot are rather good. The two pilot episodes are outstanding, brilliantly introducing the series characters and their personalities to full effect, with plenty of guts, gore, drama and a neat political re-working of the whole "sword in the stone" story. The series wanes in the middle, between episodes 4 (which could actually be the worst "Excalibur" reworking ever!) and 7, but the series comes to a fantastic finally with episodes 8,9, 10, which sadly leave the series on a cliff-hanger ready for season 2, which sadly was cancelled by Starz. However, anyone who has read or seen adaptions of Arthurian legend would not need to see a series 2 after episode 10 because anyone who has read the stories will know what happens next and ultimately how the tales of King Arthur ends. This makes the ending of Camelot quite appropriate because watchers are left with the sad realisation that everything will fall, without even needing to see what will follow, which makes the title of the last episode "The Reckoning", quite appropriate.
To conclude Camelot is easily the best Arthurian adaptions in a long time. It is not as good as Excalibur and no where near as good as Game of Thrones but with its new characters and new plot-lines its Camelot's reinvigoration of Arthurian drama that makes it worth the watch!