Let me just start off by saying that I love shows like Camelot and I do mean LOVE them. So it is really hard for me to be negative about them. Which means that I may not be the best judge of character when it comes to shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones or Starz’s Camelot, because even when they suck I will keep on watching. But let’s face it, when it comes to original programming the Starz channel is the baby of the premiere channels considering they only began to air newly scripted shows in 2005 with The Bronx Bunny and Head Case.
Recently they have begun to make more in roads with programming like Party Down, but Camelot marks their first foray into the Fantasy genre. Which let’s face it is a hard genre to tackle. First of all they must establish themselves worthy of being watched by the fan-geek community. And by worthy I mean proving that they can not only bring the fantastical story to life in a real and believable way, but they must also show that the writing is clean and the acting is sharp. Our power in the entertainment industry only grows each year instead of diminishing. Then they must (and granted this will be infinitely harder) they must bring the “normals” to the party. When I use the word “normals” I am referring to the magical 18-49 year old group who don’t consider a fun Saturday night to be spent among friends watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy or people who don’t randomly quote Bill Murray movies.
Camelot as you have probably gleaned is the story of the would-be king and his quest to unite his country and take the throne. You may also have come to the conclusion that the story isn’t going to be wrapped up in a cute little package as Disney may have wanted us to believe when we were 7. Well if the preview of the pilot episode titled “Homecoming” is any indication of the tone of this story I can only imagine darkly intense times ahead.
Camelot wastes no time in delving into the heart of the story. In a few short scenes the main characters are firmly planted in the hearts and minds of the viewer. Jamie Campbell Bower shows a quiet strength in his portrayal of the would-be king while still maintaining the doe-eyed naivete of someone thrust into a life not of their choosing. While Joseph Fiennes sheds his former roles as the powerful and cunning wizard Merlin. Mind you this is not the Merlin of past stories no this is a Merlin that one wonders if he walks the thin line between good and evil or if his intentions aren’t altogether altruistic. I couldn’t help but to wonder if the visions these people were seeing that altered their course in history weren’t perhaps implanted deliberately.
However it was hands down Eva Green as the twisted and troubled half-sister Morgan who stole the show for me. I admit that despite being somewhat familiar with the legend of Arthur I had only a passing knowledge of Morgan and this was only after I found out that in some stories she was known as Morgana. So she is an entirely new character and story for me. But it wasn’t just the possibility of discovery that engaged me, no it was the way in which Green establishes that Morgan is not a damsel in distress. In a world that often treats women as no more than a way to produce an heir or as a sexual object, Morgan uses being a woman to her advantage. She uses those around her on her terms and her terms alone. Yet at the same time Green isn’t afraid to use her eyes to show a hidden depth of pain and despair.
While I would like to be able to regale you with the negative aspects of Camelot other than a personal gripe having nothing to do with the overall story I enjoyed the premiere immensely and was unable to focus on any shortcomings the premiere may have had to my delight of course. If you really must know the one gripe I did have it was the lighting of some scenes. I am a lighting nut. I absolutely can not stand it when a scene has been shot so darkly that I can barely make out what is happening. I mean I get that they want to show that either the mood is dark or the tone is dark or the people are in danger, but damn at least let me see what is happening. There were some scenes that for me bordered on being too dark, but luckily they managed to keep them from going too far to the darkside and I was able to focus on the scene in front on me.
In 51 short minutes the writers managed to instill enough smoke and mirrors that this viewer found herself wanting to know the secrets this story held. Who were these people? What brought them here? Was it preordained by fate or had it all been orchestrated with sinister intentions? It’s a little too early to say for sure but I believe I may have found my new:
Get the tattoo already!
Until next time,