On Television: Camelot (Starz)

Ep. “Homecoming”

On Friday, Starz showed the first hour of their upcoming historical-fantasy-drama, Camelot, as a sneak preview following the finale of ‘Spartacus: Gods of the Arena’. A week ago, I was very sad and upset that the Spartacus miniseries was ending after only six episodes, but having seen the Camelot pilot, I am excited that something is ready to take its place.

Even though Starz only broadcast the first hour, this new series looks to promise the same level of violence, sex, struggles for power and intrigue that have become a trademark of the hugely successful ‘Spartacus’ series.

And this rendition of the Arthurian legend looks to be nothing like what has previously been shown in mainstream media. Rather than some musical or a kiddish version of the story, Starz has sought to develop a more well-rounded cast with a much, much more adult vibe.

That being said, I am still a bit skeptical if young Jamie Campbell Bower has the acting prowess to hold his own against a juggernaut of a cast, but I am hopeful.

Scene-steeling vixen, Eva Green, however, was unbelievable as Arthur’s vengeful sorceress/half-sister, Morgan, who appears to be hellbent on ascending as queen. She provided a strong, emotional performance that embodied the character flawlessly and was by far the shining talent in the preview.

Joseph Fiennes as Merlin is one casting I cannot definitively decide on. The character of Merlin looks nothing like what is traditionally considered (no beard, not very old), but I am excited to see where the role goes. Judging from the first hour, Merlin appears to be more of a soldier-monk with a hidden agenda. He obviously is going to take his place as Arthur’s mentor/adviser, but I wonder if there will not be numerous instances where Merlin attempts to use his influence for his own personal gain. I like the perceived duality of his character and I’m interested to see Merlin’s magical abilities in upcoming episodes.

However, all this promise could be for not if Joseph Fiennes happens to over act the part like he did in Flash Forward. I know he is a talented actor, but I am leary that the costuming and setting might overwhelm him to a point where he becomes too much.

All in all, after watching ‘Homecoming’ I am excited to see the full pilot on April 1, 2011. And I cannot wait to see how they integrate the stories of Guinevere, Lancelot, the Knights of the Round Table, Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake. There is so much source material with T.H. White’s The Once and Future King (one of my favorite books of all time) and Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur that I don’t think the series will ever find themselves hunting for plot.

With HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ scheduled to premiere on April 14, 2011, it will be interesting to see if there is room for two fantasy-epic series to share the same space on premium cable.

Rating: A

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