I don’t think there’s anyone that could claim that Starz isn’t trying hard. With the recently cancelled, though critically and cultly lauded, Party Down, the always compelling Spartacus: Blood and Sand, recent mini-series Pillars of the Earth, and the acquired airing and distributions rights to half of the new season of Torchwood, the premium channel is running behind the bus of glossier sisters like HBO and Showtime. But, with newer shows with bigger stars it seems like Starz, despite the ill conceived z in it’s title, is sort of making a name for itself. It’s newest venture is yet another version of the King Arthur story, titled (very originally) Camelot.
This they’re time mingling legend with history, or something like that. It’s supposed to be King Arthur like we’ve never seen King Arthur before. But, as I recall they said the same thing about the Clive Owen/Keira Knightley mess they released about five years ago which threw out legend and history. An impressive feat. And while the BBC’s Merlin makes no bones about it having absolutely nothing to do with the stories we’ve learned, there are always skeletons with swords to look forward to. I’m a fan of Arthurian legend, so there’s really no chance that I’m not going to tune in to watch this show, even in the face of skepticism. The show is produced by Michael Hirst, who wrote Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, worked on Showtime’s upcoming The Borgias, and created, produced, and wrote every single episode of The Tudors. Now, I loved The Tudors, because I love Anne Boleyn and that era in history, but I am the first to call it out on it’s sensationalized hilarity. Head writer is Chris Chibnall who pens for Doctor Who, Torchwood, Spooks, Life on Mars, and is show runner for Law & Order: UK. We approve of him.
After the finale of prequel series Spartacus: Gods of the Arena Starz decided to do all us curious Arthur fans a solid and show a preview of Camelot, which will premiere in April, conveniently around the same time Showtime debuts The Borgias. Basically, it’s hilarious. It might be good, I honestly can’t tell yet. It took me a few episodes to get into Spartacus too, after I got over the 300 like stylization and unnecessary rampant graphic sex, but pretty soon I was hooked with that. Camelot takes a lot from The Tudors, trying to make an ancient story modern so that millions of dim-witted Americans will still tune in. If only for the breasts. I would definitely say that I enjoyed it, but I’m not on the edge of my seat waiting for episode two. Well, here. Here’s the, highly spoilered, premise of episode one, entitled “Homecoming”.
The series starts out with Morgan coming home from her apparent fifteen year education in a nunnery. She’s a little pissed, but she looks even more pissed because she’s played by Eva Green who perfected her stunningly sour expression somewhere around Kingdom of Heaven. I can’t be sure but I imagine it’s because it was around that time that she realized she was in Kingdom of Heaven. Anyway, so she’s already pissed and Daddy, Uther Pendragon, tells her she’s not welcome. So she does what any other girl would do and shape shifts into a servant girl so that she can poison dear old dad. Enter Bad Ass Merlin, who I call such because he looks like this;
and is played by Joseph Fiennes who, let’s face it, has always considered himself hot shit. Bad Ass Merlin gets the King’s signature by essentially holding Uther’s hand and signing the paper himself and dispatches himself to pick up Uther’s mystery son, who was conceived by, pretty much, rape and magic and then raised by peasants with no knowledge of his lineage.
Arthur, who’s played by that baby faced kid who played Anthony in Sweeney Todd (Jamie Campbell Bower), apparently spends his days down by the river getting it on with nubile young naked girls who are dating other people. Or maybe it’s just the one who was with Arthur’s adoptive brother, Kay. Life is probably good. But then in busts Bad Ass Merlin to say “Surprise, young peasant, you’re actually now the king!” and expects Arthur to be pleased as punch. Guess what, he’s not.
Meanwhile Morgan’s installed herself in Uther’s castle, thinking herself the only heir. When King Lot comes to take over she offers instead to unite the kingdom, which is probably about to break into war any second now, by having some very naked sex and scratching the shit out of Lot’s chest. Neither are please when they learn that Uther had a son.
Merlin, Arthur, and Kay make their way across the kingdom to shining Camelot… oh, except, yeah those are some Roman ruins that literally have no roof. At least Morgan comments that the place once had power so at least they have that going for them. Arthur and Morgan have a showdown where she presents herself as strong and… sort of a capable, if not bitchy, leader while Arthur attempts to make friends by whining that he’s as surprised as she is. Morgan is still pissed, especially when Igraine, the stepmother she hated and Arthur’s birth mother, confirms that Arthur is a legitimate heir. Morgan takes her leave.
Then, Arthur has a weird sex dream that takes place on the beach and stars Guinevere,
who we only know is Guinevere because, well, it’s pretty obvious, and she’s played by Tamsin Egerton who portrayed Posh Toddy Chelsea in Saint Trinians and Saint Trinians II. Arthur awakes to Bad Ass Merlin hovering over him asking about the girl which pretty much means that Bad Ass Merlin was leching on Arthur’s dreams. Ew.
But then they don’t have much time to discuss it because there’s a whole bunch of riders coming at the castle to have another confrontation. Morgan warns Arthur to step down, Arthur says no, yada yada, the foes bring out Arthur’s adoptive mom, and Kay’s real mom, who Arthur made sure to tell was really who he considers his mother before he left for glory and greatness. And they kill her. King Lot tells Arthur he’ll give him five days to grieve and then, dun dun dun, they’ll be back.
That’s the end and I will end this post as abruptly as the episode finished.