Creators Michael Hirst, Chris Chibnall
Starring Joseph Fiennes, Jamie Campbell Bower, Tamsin Egerton, Eva Green
Show ** Extras ***
Despite all the hype, there’s a reason why Starz hasn’t recommissioned its lavish Arthurian fantasy series. It’s ho-hum viewing at the best of times; at worst, ineffably shoddy. There are problems of pacing, scripting and, most of all, a vision of the once-and-future king that would feel more at home in a Judd Apatow comedy about a time-travelling teenage nobody.
Camelot echoes creator Michael Hirst’s previous bodice-ripper The Tudors, with lashings of rumpy-pumpy. These 10 episodes track Arthur’s (Jamie Campbell Bower) plucking from ignorant bliss by Merlin (Joseph Fiennes), to his struggles to be taken seriously as Britain’s new king against the backstabbing of sorceress sister Morgan (Eva Green). Meanwhile, Tamsin Egerton’s Guinevere floats about in outfits Lady Gaga would blush at and James Purefoy crops up for a cameo as a sadistic warlord.
Co-creator Chris Chibnall boldly claims that “Jamie Campbell Bower will redefine Arthur” in the Making Of, but we doubt the actor’s wet-lettuce turn was what he had in mind when he said that. Only Camelot’s magical adversaries prevent a complete slide into direness, although Fiennes’ Merlin comes with a buzz-cut and modern-day phraseology (eg “Piss off”), Green is burdened with a run of portentous chatter like “the games of men exhaust me” and their powers are confined to some undercooked shape-shifting.
As small-screen spectacles go, Camelot can’t hold a candle to HBO’s Game Of Thrones, relying on pretty Irish countryside to distract from its lack of epicness. The wooden acting, meanwhile, could’ve kept the realm warm for many seasons to come, if only they hadn’t cancelled it.