Camelot on Starz

Camelot Cover

The wife and I just finished watching the two episode premier of Starz’s original series Camelot this past weekend and, before I accidentally read any other reviews or forget what I saw, I thought I would share my own thoughts.  Before delving into my own opinion (which will NOT contain any spoilers!), here is what Starz has to say about their show:

In the wake of King Uther’s sudden death, chaos threatens to engulf Britain.  When the sorcerer Merlin has visions of a dark future, he installs the young and impetuous Arthur, Uther’s unknown son and heir, who has been raised from birth as a commoner. But Arthur’s cold and ambitious half sister Morgan will fight him to the bitter end, summoning unnatural forces to claim the crown in this epic battle  of control. These are dark times indeed for the new king, with Guinevere being the only shining light in Arthur’s harsh world. Faced with profound moral decisions, and the challenge of uniting a kingdom broken by war and steeped in deception, Arthur will be tested beyond imagination. Forget everything you think you know…this is the story of Camelot that has never been told before.

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Thankfully, Starz was upfront about the fact that they were not retelling the same old story.  Additionally, this is not another Merlin (NBC/Syfy), which the wife and I also happen to be fans of, mind you.  I also want to preface my opinion by stating I do not know every last, little detail about Camelot, Merlin, Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, or Excalibur.  At best, I have a rudimentary knowledge of the legend, most likely the same way you do:  TV and movies.  Enough already, let’s get to the show…

I have to admit that I especially love it when new shows have no introduction at all before starting the first episode.  This allows the viewer to have zero knowledge about what might be coming.  I also prefer that shows air about 5 or so minutes of every episode before showing the opening theme/introduction, but I do not mind if they go “old school” either.

Right off the bat, the opening scene (again, no spoilers here) tries to set the tone for the series, albeit in a significantly lighter fashion than the rest of the episode winds up having.  If anyone was under the impression that Camelot might have similar sexual or violent imagery akin to that of Spartacus, I can assure you that it does not (at least, not yet).  To put that in perspective, my wife won’t watch Spartacus, but she enjoyed Camelot’s first two episodes.  Spartacus Goes To Camelot this is not!

They managed to cover several parts of the legend in these first two episodes, yet it did not feel like they were moving along too quickly.  In fact, neither of us realized we were watching a double episode until we looked some things up online.  I thought it was simply an extended first episode.  The pace of the story was brisk, but not rushed, and the hour and forty five minutes went by quickly.  The action wasn’t nonstop as there was adequate “down time” thrown in regularly, but at no point did it slow down to the point of boredom, nor did anything feel like “filler” attempting to bridge a gap in the story.

My sole gripe about the story thus far is how they are portraying Arthur.  The writers seemed torn on whether to give rise to the future king inside him or to convey just how young and inexperienced he is.  There are scenes which absolutely conflict with each other in this regard and it is hard to fathom this is the same individual at times.  Personally, I think they stretched his character a little too far towards each extreme.  I would have preferred a little more build-up over several episodes for some of the scenes, which would have made it more believable in my mind.  At the same time, I understand they needed to progress the story forward in a reasonable timeframe, so I think that was why I was able to accept it.

The show managed to introduce the majority of the cast with just enough backstory to keep you interested, yet maintaining a balance of mystery, since this is a series.  Perhaps the biggest mystery at this point is Merlin, himself.  First off, this is not Gandalf, nor is it Disney’s Merlin.  Let’s just say that they shroud Merlin in enough mystery at the beginning that you may wonder whether he is a good guy or a bad guy.  Obviously, legend says he is the good guy, but what is revealed in these first two episodes absolutely gives rise to questionable morals about the character and where the writers will truly be taking him.  This very thing actually makes the legend significantly more believable, as it clearly shows the human factor, instead of the legendary hero.

In the end, we both enjoyed the first two episodes and are looking forward to watching the third.

My suggestion:  Watch it!

P.S.  For you Netflix fans, note that since Camelot is on Starz, their recent deal with Netflix means you won’t be able to stream it until 60 days after its first airing.  Mathematically, that would be May 31st.

P.P.S.  Feedback is welcome on this piece, since I’m considering doing this for new shows I decide to check out.  First off, are people interested in such a thing?  I pretty much wrote this without any format in mind, but if there’s anything I can add/change to make it more interesting, let me know.  The next review will be for HBO’s Game of Thrones.

  • Thanks George!  From

    Thanks George!  From “offline” (I know chat isn’t offline but whatever) discussions and friendly ridicule on the weekly Blu-ray picks I know our taste in TV series is similar.

    I recorded the first episode of Camelot but had an akward moment when my ten year old son asked “Are those boobs?  Dad what are you trying to watch?”  That inspired an evil look from my wife in the adjoining room…

    I don’t know if it is just the first couple minutes of the first episode or not but what happened is the Recorded TV folder artwork for the episode happened to capture what appears to be a Spartacus-esque scene.

  • hrmmm…..i’m conflicted. It

    hrmmm…..i’m conflicted. It sounds good, but then again I was not a fan of Merlin. But that’s good that it’s different, although somewhat similar topics. I’ll probably give the first two a chance before judging, thanks!

  • Just let me know when they
    Just let me know when they are on Netflix and I will watch them at that point. Looks like it could be very good.

    Thanks

  • LOL!  I can only imagine. 

    LOL!  I can only imagine.  Although, the show is rated TV-MA for a reason.  😉  It has violence, blood, death, and sex.  But, like I said above, it’s nowhere near the level of Spartacus (so far… and we watched the 3rd episode last night).  The opening scene contains no nudity, so I’m not sure where that screenshot came from.  If I recall correctly, the first scene lasts about 2-3 minutes and there’s absolutely no nudity in it.  There’s some slight violence, but nothing that hasn’t been shown on network TV.  Now, there is something shortly after that scene, which would be “questionable”, to say the least.  Sealed

    Was that artwork or an episode screenshot, culled from the beginning of the recording itself?  In either case, you should have your artwork grab from IMDB and other sites, since you’re very unlikely to get that type of artwork from there.  😉

    • WMC automatically selects a

      WMC automatically selects a frame from the content for presentation to the user.

      • swoon wrote:WMC automatically

        [quote=swoon]

        WMC automatically selects a frame from the content for presentation to the user.

        [/quote]

        Ahhh… yes, I could definitely see that coming back to haunt you!  I never cared for that “feature”.  A DVD cover or fanart from the web is almost always more appealing, particularly in cases like this!

        • My wife and I watched the

          My wife and I watched the two-hour premiere shortly after it aired.  We’ve been getting caught up on “The Kennedys” so I haven’t had a chance to get to the 2nd episode.  I enjoyed it but I’ll be surprised if my wife joins me for subsequent episodes.  She tends to get overly prudish when sex is involved (must be that Catholic upbringing).

          Update:  The wife surprised me when I asked if she wanted to contiunue watching Camelot so we watched the 2nd episode last night.  It’s rare when she likes watching a particular show so I try to pick something I think she’ll like.

          Since we’re on the topic of new shows, here’s my take on a couple of new ones that just started up:

          Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior – I really wanted to like this one since I think the original series is one of the best written shows on network TV.  Unfortunately, the stories are contrived and the acting leaves a lot to be desired.  The characters just don’t lend themselves to being liked as do the ones on the original show.  I’ve already deleted it from my recording schedule.

          CHAOS – So far I really like the show.  There are a lot of familiar faces in the cast and the scripts are just quirky enough to make it fun.

          The Chicago Code – When I saw the previews all I could think of was another stereotypical cop show.  I have been pleasantly surprised by this one.  So far it looks like a winner.

          Body of Proof – Another Medical Examiner show (maybe it should be named “Daughter of Quincy”).  I’ve liked Dana Delaney ever since she did China Beach so I’ve been giving it a look (not so much on Desperate Housewives).  Can’t say I love it but can’t say I hate it either.  I’ll stick with it for a while and see how it plays out.

          The Borgias – I’ve got the first few episodes but haven’t had a chance to watch them yet.  I expect it will be something along the lines of The Tudors.  It appears this is only a 7-part series.

          Here’s a few new shows that just finished their current season:

          Being Human – I never saw the original BBC series but I knew the basic plot.  Considering the material, not too bad and good filler for the SyFy channel.

          Lights Out – Pretty good rendition of the Rocky story with some slight variations.  The final episode has an interesting cliffhanger.  I’ll be back for season 2.

  • I’ll definitely put this on

    I’ll definitely put this on my list. I was so impressed with Spartacus that I’ll give any series Starz puts out a shot.

  • I have not seen this show,

    I have not seen this show, but I’m curious if anyone would like to give a post-mortem analysis on why the show was not renewed for another season. According to Starz, it was due to “significant production challenges.” It sounds like the show just didn’t gain enough viewers for the budget it had. 

  • I thought the acting was

    I thought the acting was terrible. That is my post-mortem analysis after 3 episodes. Not to mention Game of Thrones started about the same time and blew Camelot away. I think that Joseph Fiennes is one of those jump the shark actors. IMO he killed Flash Forward also. Hmmm. This guy seems to have the similar feeling that I do. http://www.cinemablend.com/television/Starz-Decides-Renew-Camelot-Second-Season-33201.html

    Accept he likes the actor.