The first ten episodes of the TV series based loosely on Arthurian legend starring Joseph Fiennes and Eva Green. The series begins with the sorcerer Merlin (Fiennes) conniving to place a young Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower) on the throne. This is to the displeasure of Arthur's half-sister Morgan (Green), upset at being usurped for the throne by her younger brother, not to mention Arthur's countless other enemies, including Morgan's ally King Lot (James Purefoy). As Arthur struggles to stabilise the kingdom and his romantic entanglement with Guinevere (Tamsin Egerton), wife of his bravest knight Leontes (Philip Winchester), the greatest threat to his rule may come from within the family as Morgan turns to dark forces in her bid to gain power...
Television has always managed to thrive, and find new angles, on period action adventure shows, returning in many cases to stories and legends of old. That’s what’s happened with the US television series of Camelot, which takes similar material that inspired the BBC’s Merlin show, but tries to do something a bit more grown up with it. That translates to more menace, more violence, and darker themes bubbling underneath.
This time, Jamie Campbell Bower takes the role of Arthur, with Eva Green faring well as his half-sister, Morgan. The cast is rounded out by the likes of Tamsin Egerton and Joseph Fiennes, and the show is billed as the Camelot story “that has never been told before”. That’s a bit of dubious claim, really, although it does try a few things with the legend that give it some distinction. But not as much as you’d hope.
The problem, though, is that Camelot never sparks consistently into life. There’s a lot to like here, from the quality of the production design, some of the direction, and the terrific turn from Eva Green that sits at the heart of many of the show’s best moments. But the acting performances are up and down, while the writing, too, lets the side down a little too often. Common sense doesn’t always prevail where this Camelot is concerned.
Camelot remains an enjoyable show, and one that’s certainly worth checking out. It’s not too hard, though, to work out the reasons why its light flickered out after only one season run. Eva Green, though, is really rather special here. --Jon Foster --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.