As one would expect, it’s a “reimagining” of the Camelot mythology from the ground up, starting with ushering in Arthur as king and ending with the Knights of the Round Table being assembled — well, at least partially. I assume if the series had gone on for a couple of more seasons, the plan would entail having one kick-ass piece of furniture by the conclusion.
That man of magic known as Merlin (Joseph Fiennes, TV’s “FlashForward”) is the character who gets the ball rolling, shepherding a young Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1″) from an immature cocksman into esteemed royalty. All this comes much to the chagrin of the sister Arthur never knew he had, the conniving, face-shifting Morgan (Eva Green, “Casino Royale”), who feels the right to their father’s throne is hers and hers alone.
That conflict forms the overall arc among the ten hour-long episodes, as does a love triangle between Arthur; Leontes (Philip Winchester, TV’s “Fringe”), the knight who saved his life; and Leonte’s brand-new bride, Guinevere (Tamsin Egerton, “St. Trinian’s”), who gives her virginity to Arthur before her wedding day, then fools her hubby using some blood of a dead animal she finds in the forest.
Yeah, the show is a wee bit twisted, as good cable TV should be. While not groundbreaking, “Camelot” does subvert expectations. For example, Merlin barely ever uses his Sookie powers; much of the supernatural stuff is left to Morgan and her partners in crime. For another, it’s not just John Boorman’s “Excalibur” all over again; they really do bring their own version and vision to life.
Too weaselly to be likable, Bower is miscast as the show’s supposed hero, but the gorgeous Green has so much fun being evil — even more so than she was in the recent film “Cracks” — that she more than makes for up for that imbalance. Action is sharp and bloody, and the showrunners skillfully weave other Arthurian legends — from the Sword in the Stone to the Lady of the Lake — into their tale. It’s really quite a shame they won’t get to include more. —Rod Lott