Camelot (TV Series 2011, Michael Hurst, Chris Chibnall)
A modern take on the classic King Arthur tale, Camelot comes from the creators of The Tudors, containing all the violence, bickering and sexual deviancy you’d expect from this new wave of re-thought period tales made for television.
The largest positive about Camelot is that it does exactly what you’d expect. It’s similar to The Tudors, though not as interesting or well written, hence the fact that Channel 4 picked it up rather than the BBC. The cinematography is consistently solid, and the choreography and filming of the numerous action sequences is also good. There are some decent CGI effects and a few pretty impressive sets, which are explored in the bonus content. It’s also got more boobs than the prostitutes in Total Recall, meaning any horny men (or women) can get their fill of Eva Green, Claire Forlani and Tamsin Egerton’s body doubles.
One of the major issues facing Camelot is that it hasn’t been picked up for a second series. You wouldn’t cite that as a big negative if the first season could stand up well on its own, but unfortunately the writers seem to have become complacent, presuming that they would get re-hired. This means the final episode leaves several loose strands, which will of course never be resolved. Within the production itself everything is either distinctly average or slightly below that mediocre mark. While the acting is relatively proficient, the sub-par script holds back the various stars and makes for some awkward exchanges. Jaime Campbell Bower is a strange bit of casting as King Arthur, never seeming remotely powerful and for the most part coming across as childish and rather irritating. Joseph Fiennes, Tamsin Egerton, Eva Green and Claire Forlani all do their best but ultimately they fail to raise the level of the overall production. However, as alluded to previously, the biggest issue with Camelot is the wholly disingenuous writing; it stops the audience from ever coming close to engaging with the characters and events on screen. To top it off, there is some completely baffling swearing dotted throughout the various episodes: I quote, “Piss off”, “NARGH, fuck this”, and finally my favourite of the lot, “You lazy cunt!” I presume that this is a modern twist, and noble knights of the realm didn’t really talk like this. What’s next… Merlin installing Sky+ in Camelot’s great hall?
Both Discs 1 and 2 have special features. Disc 1 contains six individual character pieces, presenting factoids and opinions on the show’s major roles. It also has two short docs, ‘the Knights of Camelot’ and ‘the Women of Camelot’, which look at the programme’s supporting cast. On Disc 2 there are a variety of featurettes and some behind-the-scenes footage. There is a peculiar overlap between the two, where several segments of interview are rehashed – this comes across as rather lazy, surely they had enough interview time to not have to repeat themselves? The highlights of the lot are Gawain singing “Wayne’s World! Wayne’s World! Party Time! Excellent!” and Joseph Fiennes describing his character of Merlin as a “cross between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Donald Rumsfeld”. Overall though, you do get a decent amount of bonus for your buck.
Camelot is released on DVD in the UK on August 1st.