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STUDENT BLOG #7: See a Little, Like a Lot -- Watch the Starz, It's 'Camelot'
March 30, 2011  | By David Bianculli  | 1 comment

[The latest guest column from a Rowan University student is another from Rich Greenhalgh, who in the past has tried to explain the content, intent and appeal of such things as TV zombies and imported anime. Today, he takes on the newest version of the King Arthur legend -- Camelot, which premieres Friday at 10 p.m. ET on the Starz network -- and claims it's a very good fit for Starz, and for him...]

By Rich Greenhalgh

In the era of premium cable television series offerings, one channel has been inventive enough to merge the lush production value of a Hollywood level action epic with a streamlined, layered episodic television narrative. The premium cable channel Starz has broken new ground with cable dramas, and left the television arena triumphant, with Spartacus: Blood and Sand and its latest prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.

And now, Starz is pulling out its new weapon in the form of -- what else? Excalibur!

Camelot is a bold, raw, and gorgeously shot new action drama beginning this Friday (10 p.m. ET) on Starz. It's the creation of Micheal Hirst and Chris Chibnal, and if you think it's not for you and that it's all white knights and chivalry, you're dead wrong.


Imagine Camelot on day one, when Arthur doesn't yet know what Camelot means, let alone how to be a king. Arthur and the audience are on equal footing in this narrative. The only two characters who have any idea what's at stake are the mysterious and cryptic Merlin (played with enigmatic wonder by Joseph Fiennes, right) and Arthur's half-sister Morgan (played with sexy snake-like decadence by Eva Green, seen in photo at top).

Everything else is new and ready to be fought for, shaped, and discovered in this "Camelot: year one" narrative.

(Oh, look -- here's a handy trailer:)

What is impressive about cable TV dramas is that they can make mini-movies out of episodes. What I loved about Spartacus was how far Starz pushed the envelope of violence, special effects, imagery, sex, and intense drama. What John Hannah and Lucy Lawless did for Spartacus, Eva Green
and Joseph Fiennes will do for Camelot.


Eva Green positively slithers and sizzles in every scene she's in. She delivers looks and dialogue so effortlessly it could make Lord Voldermort (the evil wizard of the Harry Potter films) gasp. Joseph Fiennes has an equally tough task in approaching how to paint Merlin, the wise sage and visionary of Camelot. Fiennes is very charismatic, yet says very little. He portrays someone of extreme power and
resourcefulness, but still exhibits a human level of anxiety and uncertainty about how to make Arthur the ruler he needs to be.

The castles, locations, costumes, and speech all draw you into the genre without it seeming forced. In Spartacus, even the dialogue was tweaked to fit the era. In Camelot, there is the same savory, intense verbal sparring and aggressive dramatic tension.

Here's a taste of Arthur's first meeting with Morgan (soon to be mythic enemies for the ages).
It could so easily have become a poor excuse in posturing, with overly dramatic acting -- and yet the actors play it off like a poker showdown or medieval stand-off.

Most of these actors, except for Claire Forlani (who plays Arthur's birth mother), I've never seen before, but it's always nice to see new faces.


The role of Arthur is played slyly and earnestly by Jamie Campbell Bower, who doesn't look anything like a king -- but then, I suspect, he's not supposed to. Guinevere will be played by Tamsin Egerton, who looks delicious and warm as a future queen, with no sight of Lancelot on the horizon.

I saw the first episode online about a month ago, and was instantly addicted, not even knowing I'd have to wait till April 1 to see more. I thought I'd never like Spartacus, and got sucked in after one episode. I
honestly think Starz has pulled off another gem with Camelot.

I'm not a history guy. I thought The Tudors dragged and The Borgias looks interesting --but I've had enough of church scandal-laden intrigue, so, thanks to Starz, I'll be spending my
Spring in Camelot.



Sarah said:

As a fan of the legend I am looking forward to this! I like it when I don't know most of the cast (which may be why I watch so much british telly) -- it makes it easier to really enjoy the characters from episode one. I also think my mom, who is also a fan of the story, will like this better then Merlin, which I watch, and happens to be on the same night. Again, I can't wait to watch, and am glad it sounds so good.

Comment posted on March 30, 2011 12:26 PM

Larry McD said:

My problem with all these trailers (and I suspect the show) is that Jamie Campbell Bower looks like he grew up in an Oklahoma trailer park. Arthur may not have had a kingly rearing but he certainly had royal genes.

Comment posted on April 1, 2011 7:08 PM
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James makes a very manly king.
Aug 25, 2012   |  Reply
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