Ryan Thomason

TV Review, Camelot Season 1

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Yes, the season ended a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve been playing catch up ever since the show started, and damnit I should have done so sooner.

In case you didn’t know, this first season ran on the Starz channel and was what I think was their version of Game of Thrones that also just finished its first season on HBO. While I’ve heard wonderful glowing things about Game of Thrones, the talk on Camelot has been relatively muted. Is it because people overlook Starz as a channel? I think so.

I have no comment on Game of Thrones, I don’t have HBO, Camelot though, was possibly one of my favorite fantasy based shows I’ve watched in recent years (Merlin on BBC America being #1). If you can’t tell from the name Camelot is a retelling of the King Arthur story that we all know, but with HUGE twists on the tale. Or maybe it’s more to the original? I wouldn’t know since I’ve seen so many variations of it.

I’ll try to keep this as spoiler free as possible.

Basically, what we saw this season was Arthur coming into his own. Being the bastard son in the Pendragon line, he was hidden away. Only when the king dies via poison by a Morgan (his daughter and Arthur’s half sister) Though this Arthur is a little more scrawny that the usual big beef we get, he is just so greatly portrayed by Jamie Campbell Bower. At first, I didn’t get this casting for a such a big role, but as the season progressed, I couldn’t see Arthur in any other way. He went from not knowing what the hell to do to being a king in his own right by the final episode.
We get many of the stories that have always been touched on in Arthur’s Legend. From the Sword in the Stone, to Albion, to Lady of the Lake and Excalibur (which was my favorite one). See, none of these stories was done in a fantastical way for the show. It was incredibly human. Take the lady in the lake for example. *Spoiler Alert* She wasn’t a mystical arm that gave the sword to Merlin to pass onto Arthur. It was a scared child of a master sword maker, she fell out of her boat fleeing Merlin who had killed her father over the sword belonging to Arthur. Merlin froze the lake and took the sword from her sinking body. The girls name was Excalibur, thus, who Merlin named the sword after. Of course when Merlin told Arthur and everyone how he got the sword, it was the mystical story we all know.

Yeah, it was awesome.

Merlin, played by Joseph Fiennes was just outright amazing. He has these powers, but they are a huge strain on him to use, so he is reluctant and outright ashamed of what he can do. Though we get the witty and wise man that we all know of, it’s from a man who is highly one track minded. Bringing Arthur to his full glory and uniting the land. He’s patient, and yet not at times, it’s an interesting mix. Joseph Fiennes nailed the whole thing though. It was a version of Merlin that was still mystical and he did resort to using his powers at times, but Merlin was just as willing to sit and wait for humanity to figure things out on it’s own.

There was only one big villain the whole season long, Morgan, the half sister of Arthur, and really, really pissed off want to be Queen instead of her Brother. Eva Green was actually pretty damn good at being a manipulating and conniving sister who always had her eyes on the throne, even when playing nice to her brother Arthur. Oh and nudity, plenty of that too. At first I wasn’t sure how long they were going to drag out her trying to come up with ways to kill Arthur and claim the throne, I was pretty sure that at some point everyone would realize what she was doing. You have to assume that the people who inhabit this world are incredibly stupid, or easily manipulated, which they probably were. Even at the season finale when you think she’s finally met her end, you get a twist that came out of NO WHERE. I’m not sure how much of Morgan we’ll get in the second season, especially with the big ending we got, but you know for sure we’ll be seeing her down the road at some point. I was blown away by Eva Green in the end, she was cold, calculating, and relentless, she just had that look where one second she was your friend, and then turn away and seemed like she’d cut out your heart and eat it. It was just damn good to watch.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I need to talk about Guinevere, the one true love of Arthur. Though, she’s married to Leontes (Arthurs Champion) it doesn’t stop Arthur from getting frisky with her on the beach on her wedding day. Thus setting the tone for the whole season of them longing for each other but never being able to capitalize on it again, let’s hope that Season 2 they get to err, yeah I don’t want to ruin it. See, if I had been reviewing this all season I’m sure you’d know what has been going on, but since I SUCK, you get the short, short version of their love story.

If you’re looking for a show that has thousands and thousands of men in combat, this isn’t it, the land wasn’t that populated during this story, so yeah, when there are some 15 people who live at a pass and defend it with just their family. They get attacked by 20 or so guys, and ‘reinforcements’ that come to help the bad guys? probably 10-15 more guys. It’s incredibly believable and just gives the whole show a better element. You aren’t lost in the swarm of bodies, it’s tight and focused which I appreciated. The Castle Camelot itself is abandoned and taken over by nature at the outset. So yeah, Arthur and his small band of knights rebuild the whole damn place on their own throughout the season, as people who are swayed to Arthur trickle in and help build the Castle into the thing of fables. It’s just all done so well, and made everything less ‘fable’ and more realistic with a touch of the unknown.

I feel bad that I didn’t put more effort into talking about this show, like I’ve said, I got a good couple of weeks behind on episodes with my DVR and couldn’t find the time to get caught up until I had a full “Dad gets to do whatever he wants and don’t bother him” day on Fathers Day. We’ll keep you updated of when the DVD’s will release. It didn’t have all the hype of HBO and Game of Thrones, but holy shit was it a great first season.

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