CliqueClack TV

Camelot is about King Arthur, not the Kennedys

On Friday, Starz presented the premiere of 'Camelot', a new telling of the story of King Arthur. It was a version filled with sex, nudity and unorthodox characters.

- Season 1, Episode 1 & 2 - "Homecoming & The Sword and the Crown"

I asked a few people this week if they planned on watching Camelot and each of them said, “Is that the show about the Kennedy’s?” and I responded, “Umm … no. It is about King Arthur.” The good thing for the Kennedy’s mini-series is that people seem to know that it is starting this weekend, for Camelot – people  haven’t heard about it.

I thought I knew the story of the King Arthur, but after watching the first two episodes of Camelot, I’m not so sure. It could be that I have always read or seen the “kid” version of the story, because this Starz version is anything but a kids’ version. I was quite surprised by the sex in the first episode.

I’ve eagerly anticipating this show, because I have always been a fan of the King Arthur lore. Fellow clacker, Ruby also watched the premiere and was kind enough to provide another view on the new series. Here are some of our thoughts:

Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower):

Carla – My first reaction was that Bower wasn’t up to being Arthur. He appeared very meek and just not very “Arthur-like.” But, in the scene when Morgan comes to Camelot the second time and challenges him, Bower sold himself as Arthur to me. He was supposed to come across as meek. In that scene, he first looks ominously around, not quite sure what to do, but then he steps up with authority and proclaims his right to the throne. In that moment, I was sold.

Ruby – I don’t like the actor who plays Arthur. He should be playing bass guitar in a band in somebody’s garage — not leading Britain into a new order of honor, peace, justice and all that good stuff. If this were Camelot Idol, I’d vote for his brother Kai. He’ll probably grow on me too, if I keep watching, but my first impression was not good. Maybe I am subconsciously comparing him to Bradley James (from Merlin), although I tried to make a point of not doing that.

Morgan (Eva Green):

Ruby – Eva Green is a bit overdramatic, but she’s growing on me. I guess the whole show is overdramatic though, with all the slo-mo and the LOTR-esque score.

Carla – I agree, she definitely was overdramatic, but by the end of the premiere it seemed to really fit her character and the show. I have a feeling we will be seeing her often without clothes, which I don’t necessarily mind as long as it doesn’t become overplayed.

Merlin (Joseph Fiennes):

Carla - Fiennes was unlike any Merlin I have seen, but I liked it. The sorcerer powers were discretely played and much better suiting him than his role on FlashForward (though there was a line about fate in the first episode that made me think of FlashForward and smile a bit.)

Ruby – I’m not sure I buy Fiennes as Merlin yet — the character is fascinating though. There’s something very sneaky about him.

King Lot (James Purefoy):

Ruby – I’ve always been a James Purefoy fan, and as usual he dominates his scenes with that overabundance of manly magnetism. I’m so bummed that Lot was killed at the end of the second episode, because he was what I liked best about the Camelot pilot episodes.

Carla – I couldn’t agree more. When he was on screen he stole the show and I think that is why Arthur originally appeared weaker than he probably should have looked. I was initially disappointed that he was killed so early in the series. I realized during my second viewing that while I will miss James Purefoy on screen, the story needs to be about Morgan and Arthur and he just got in the way of that.

Other thoughts from Ruby:

  • I liked their take on the sword in the stone as Merlin’s ploy not just to get the people to believe in Arthur but to get Arthur to believe in himself. Clever Merlin. Camelot seems to be sticking close to the legends but throwing in a few twists to keep it interesting. Another thing I liked was Kai and Arthur having such a warm relationship instead of being rivals. And yet another twist — Guinevere is already engaged to Arthur’s champion (whom I presume is Lancelot), so I guess Arthur is going to be the “other man” instead of the cuckold.
  • The cinematography is beautiful. I’ve been to most of the Arthurian sites, and the scenery in Camelot definitely takes me right back. Camelot itself reminded me of my visit to Tintagel, with its massive cliffs and 100-mph winds.
  • The pilot suffers from too much backstory/exposition and a few headscratching plot holes — for example, how did Lot’s son know Arthur’s name? Why does he attack Arthur? Why was Lot’s son out there alone in the first place? Why are people allowed to just ride into castles without even giving their names? No guards? No secret passwords? Why did Morgan let Igraine go? Why did Arthur name his grey-haired father champion, when Kai would be a better choice to battle Lot?

Other thoughts from Carla:

  • I’m not sure about the shapeshifting. On my first watch, I didn’t realize that Morgan shapeshifted into a younger girl to poison her father, I just thought it was her since I’m not familiar with the actress. And, was King Uther actually the biological father of Arthur? It seemed like he was, but how that shapeshifting worked wasn’t very clear to me.
  • Guinevere is engaged to Leontes, so I guess we know why the scene with Arthur sleeping with his brother’s girl was in the beginning. He has no qualms of taking another’s woman — even his brother’s — so why not Leontes?
  • The killing of Arthur’s mother was heartbreaking. I didn’t think anything could be more heartbreaking, but the way his father died walking through the spear in order to stab King Lot was … I don’t have words to describe it. I think my heart actually stopped for a minute at what pain he had to have gone through to protect his son.

Did you watch the premiere? What do you think of this version of Camelot, did you enjoy it enough to continue watching? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!



Photo Credit: Starz

Categories: | Camelot | Episode Reviews | Features | General | TV Shows |

15 Responses to “Camelot is about King Arthur, not the Kennedys”

April 3, 2011 at 11:33 AM

I haven’t read the King Arthur tale since junior high, but your description of the show really makes me think of one of my favorite movies, “Excalibur.” In that, Arthur was also a meek kid who grew into his role as king, and if I remember correctly there was also a scene where someone didn’t shape shift but used a spell to appear as someone other than themselves, possibly Morgana to look like Uther’s wife which led to her giving birth to Mordred (it’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie too – but I do know there was a spell which made someone appear as someone else but they didn’t actually shape shift). And there was some sex in the movie too, so this show sounds like a remake of “Excalibur.”

April 3, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Yes, it definitely reminds me of Excalibur too, Chuck.

June 7, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Sorry, I have to disagree with you. Excalibur had an epic feeling to it…this show feels small in scale. There is nothing about this version that makes me think of Excalibur at all…but I do realize you are basing what you said off of someone else’s description of it. I wonder what you think of it now after watching it?

June 7, 2011 at 12:51 PM

It’s been many years since I saw Excalibur (which I didn’t like, so for me the comparison is not necessarily favorable), but Camelot‘s premiere reminded me of that movie in that it was sort of dark and gritty and had a lot of sex. Obviously, nine episodes later, we’ve seen that this show is not epic at all – the Battle of Bardon Pass was laughable.

April 3, 2011 at 2:54 PM

the first episode was great but the second episode blew me away …so much emotions..i dont think that eva is overdramatic or that the whole show is overdramatic …and i dont understand how u could think that but anyways…
a lot of people dont like jamie thinking about bradley but i actually LOVE jamie , u feel sorry for the character , its on purpose to choose an immature arthur to turn him into a great king
he is so young and thats why he conveys a lot more emotions
there is no comparision o make with merlin but i actually find myself surprised to love more camelot than merlin ( except that i ADORE arwen in merlin)

April 4, 2011 at 1:33 PM

I’m enjoying it. It’s kind of odd, because I’m a big fan of Merlin on the BBC, and these are just two completely different animals. I have to keep reminding myself not to compare them because it’s not really fair. I find the injection of humor in BBC’s Merlin one of its most appealing attributes, but I get the feeling we won’t be getting much of that kind of thing in Camelot. That could get a little heavy for TV after awhile. It’s alright to make an all gloom and doom movie; it’s over in two hours. But it can become quite wearing on a TV show, imo. But for now I’m still entertained.

Actually my favorite character so far is Morgan. She’s quite interesting. And I think the second episode showed that she’s far more nuanced as a villain than Lot was. Her questioning of his decision to kill Arthur’s (fake) mother seems to indicate that she’s not without all qualms or pangs of conscience. Also the scene where he almost rapes her and then kidnaps her and leaves her tied to a stake overnight quite forcefully remind you that the reason why she is the way she is surely stems from living in a society ruled by a violent patriarchy, and the cruelties that women generally suffer in such societies.

I liked the concept of the Sword in the Stone scene, but it doesn’t quite sit right with me. Are we to believe that Arthur is smart enough to figure out how to pull the sword from the stone, yet not smart enough to realize that it might then propel him off the cliff? Also that fall should have killed or paralyzed him. Why didn’t it? Was it magic? That wasn’t really clear.

April 4, 2011 at 6:53 PM

@ Carla’s Reaction

Have you ever heard or read the legend of King Arthur? He is SUPPOSED to be meek as a boy, the runt living in the shadow of his popular (and knighted) older brother Sir Kay. It is only after his adventures in claiming the throne of Camelot that he fills the shoes of “King Arthur”.

April 4, 2011 at 7:44 PM

Yeah, but did you see him with out his shirt off? Unless we’re in for a Captain America-esque physical change, I’m not sure he’s going to bulk up so quickly.

June 7, 2011 at 11:56 AM

JCB has already stated in interviews he has no intention of bulking up at all. Personally I think that’s a mistake for him. He talked with the creators of this show…so he had input about it and didn’t want to do it. So unless they replace him if there is a season 2, don’t expect a physical change.

April 4, 2011 at 10:01 PM

@ Daniel

I don’t really know that story of King Arthur as I mentioned at the beginning of my post. And, on a second viewing of the episodes I definitely grew to like the actor and the portrayal of Arthur.

I’m looking forward to seeing this version of the story!

April 9, 2011 at 7:53 PM

As far as I know, the series is inpired on Sir Thomas Mallory’s book “Le Mort d’Arthur”. Aparently the most respectfull book ever writen about this legend.

I really love Eva Green as Morgain. I wish Leontes was Lancelot, I don’t like this change, but anyway, I’m so overwhelmed with Camelot!!

For whom loves The Mists of Avalon and got quite disapointed of the movie, this series is settling all the scores!!

Guinevere is a whore!!! hahaha Whatever. I really love this series.

April 9, 2011 at 9:22 PM

I love Arthurian legends so I was definitely excited at the prospect of this retelling. So far, I have to say I enjoy it quite a bit, even with the changes. I think they switched things up so much because they want to make their own mark on the legend, and they’re doing a more admirable job than most.

Arthur: I think he kind of portrays the ‘Arthur as Wart’ character – the cowed little boy you see in the earliest parts of The Once and Future King and some other depictions of his childhood. He’s like no Arthur I’ve seen, what with his playboy antics, because Arthur is usually THE golden boy. I think the image of a brattier Arthur is more popular in modern depictions, though (like is BBC Merlin, though I love the smug, pompous, but all around Arthur in Merlin). Overall, I say I like him, maybe because he’s different. Oh, and he’s pretty. *Gloriously vain under the sheen of studious*

Morgan: She is one of my most favorite characters. In all the mythology, novels and other adaptations I’ve seen, she’s generality evil and I’m sometimes wowed by the extent this is true, but I also respect her. She’s so bad ass and I think, maybe, a proto-feminist character in the legends. That’s what Eva Green portrays. I could actually do less with the nakedness, though. We know you’re pretty, Morgan, keep it to yourself.

Merlin: I find him intriguing, and I’m glad he’s not a tall, bearded, pointy-hat-and-robe-wearing archetype. He’s such an enigmatic character, though, that I’ll just have to wait and see where he goes. I do believe he wants the best for Camelot, regardless, but that doesn’t always concur with what’s best for Arthur and the other people around him.

Kay: What can I say, I love him! I wish he had a couple more moments with Arthur, though, like he did in the first episode, but his interaction with Gawain in episode three made up for that a bit.

Guinevere: I have to be honest…I HATE HER! Although, I’m slightly biased because I am generally unfavorable of her character, as I am of Helen of Troy. You might as why I correlate these two seemingly unrelated women? Because they both destroy an entire empire – utopias in their own right – by being sluts. I could never get down with the original Guinevere cheating on Arthur with Lancelot and I can’t like the budding teenybopper she and Arthur have going in Starz. It’s sickening, like something out of a Disney movie, that we have to accept this ‘love at first sight’ trope, and I’d rather she stay with Leonties (whose name I can’t spell for the life of me). He’s a loyal character who doesn’t deserve to be backstabbed by Arthur, whom he supports wholeheartedly, and I hate that Arthur and Guinevere’s affair makes me dislike Arthur, when normally I’m on his side because he’s the one that gets slighted by Guinevere’s whoring around. I wish she’d die, but alas, that won’t happen. :/

Other characters: I loved Arthur and Kay’s parents and I was saddened by their deaths. I like Gawain so far and I hope we’ll get to see more of his and Kay’s budding bromance. I’m on the fence about Igraine. She probably won’t ever be my favorite, but I don’t hate her, either.

Speculation: I wonder if Mordred will be in this version? So far, they take what’s already prevalent in the legends, but change it, so I look forward to a Mordred character, especially if you can sympathize with him like you almost can with Morgan. I wonder about his origins, though – will Morgan shift her appearance into another woman, perhaps slutty Guinevere, and sleep with Arthur to have Mordred? I’ve always sympathized with his character in lore because he seems misunderstood. Most people make him seem like a sociopath of some kind, but if your mother used you as a stepping-ladder to the throne and your father despised your very existence, even going so far as to arrange an infanticide to get rid of you, wouldn’t you have the mindset that screams, ‘Hey, world, FUCK YOU!’? I think so, and I really hope Mordred is included somehow, not in the mold of a typically evil villain.

That’s me. I think I’ve talked too much. ^^;

April 9, 2011 at 10:35 PM

I’m thinking Morgan will probably take on Guinevere’s appearance and sleep with Arthur. That’s true to the legends, and it’s icky – which is right up Starz’ alley.

June 7, 2011 at 11:51 AM

I’ve stuck through this thing in hopes that it would get better but this version of Camelot, SUCKS! What’s sad is it has great potential but it just doesn’t deliver…especially with the $7 mil per episode budget that they have. Where is the money going to?

#1 Serious plot-holes in this story (as already mentioned). The story-line is so weak I have to wonder if the writers were trying to set a land-speed record for churning out scripts.

#2 Massive inconsistencies. Merlin supposedly reads someone when he touches them, any contact (they set this premis up). Yet he never gets anything off of Morgan when she clips his toenails or sleeps with her in Igraine’s form? Really?

#3 Historical flat-out inaccuracies. Watching this series has made me wonder if anyone actually did any historical research. Where are the people living around Castle Pendragon? No castle stood alone in a field like that. Many of those who depended on those Lords lived around the castles…immediately outside of the castles so the could be ushered in when under siege. Castle Pendragon apparently has none for the longest time…until suddenly they appear last week??? England had a million people living in that country during the 6th century…but from the feel of this show you’d think there were merely hundreds.

#4 Knights? What knights? These guys let their king ride around unescorted…so anyone can attack him. They let dancing girls plunge swords into tables directly in front of him…and do, NOTHING? There is no way one of them, the closest to him wouldn’t have grabbed their sword out of that table and threatened the woman who did that. No way!

I have stuck it out, each episode just thinking “this has got to get better, they had so much to work with”…and it never does. I realize there will be those who will like this show as it is…but do you realize how much they’ve spent on something that feels this small? This is not in Excalibur (the movie whose budget was $11 mil) range at all…that movie far outperforms this series that over all costs $70 mil.

I could go on and on about how this show disappoints…but lets leave it at this. While there are actors I think are truly ill-suited for their roles (JCB as Arthur for one), that is the least of this shows problems.

June 7, 2011 at 12:44 PM

The show has definitely not lived up to its potential. This review focuses on the premiere, which benefited from the presence of James Purefoy and a bigger budget. Now we’ve had nine episodes of Camelot, and the show keeps getting more stupid. The characters all act like idiots, the “epic” battle of Bardon Pass consisted of like 10 untrained thugs against 5 trained knights fighting over a farm hut, and there is nothing compelling or interesting about Arthur. The most interesting characters are Morgan and Merlin, and they both act so overdramatic and illogical that I’m tired of them. The whole love triangle thing was rushed and resulted in all three characters being unlikable (when it’s done properly, all three characters should evoke sympathy, not disgust). Honestly, Camelot‘s writers make the writers of Merlin look like geniuses.

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