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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Camelot, a fantastic soap opera in need of stronger writing

The short-lived TV series Camelot, which lasted for just one series before being cancelled, was an attempt to retell the King Arthur legend for audiences weaned on the sex-and-blood drama of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. It didn’t work very well, with audiences switching off in their droves after the first couple of episodes.

One of the problems was the weak, diluted writing. Much of the show’s storylines resembled those of a long-running soap opera, with much promised and little resolved (despite copious amounts of running time devoted to the subject). There were hints at greatness – Eva Green and Joseph Fiennes bagged a pair of excellent roles – but many were put off by the sickly, skinny-looking male model cast as the once and future king.  

The fantastic elements were kept to a minimum – there was a little shape-shifting here and there – and one of the biggest drawbacks was the lack of budget, which resulted in poor effects and numerous other problems, like a pitched battle between two armies reduced to half a dozen extras milling around a field.

Some gratuitous nudity added to the mix failed to work, key character actors were underused (a delightfully lusty James Purefoy has far too small a role) and we were left with glimpses of might have been. Thankfully, a fellow fantasy show, based on a certain series of books by one George R. R. Martin, turned out a lot better…


Helen Hollick said...

I turned off half way through the first episode. What is so frustrating (as an author) I so wish a TV director would stumble upon my Arthurian Trilogy - although I say so myself, it is rather good LOL

I wrote the first in the Trilogy, The Kingmaking because I was so fed up with fiction not portraying Arthur & Gwenhwyfar (as I call her) as I saw them. So I wrote the story my way: no magic or supernatural, just a man who had to fight hard to gain his kingdom, and even harder to keep it.

Graham said...

Thanks for your comment, Helen.

So far, I've never read a page of Arthurian fiction. I've got the Cornwell trilogy sitting on my bookshelf, but I'm waiting until I finish Sharpe before I start that.

However, I may have to change all that in the near future. Your trilogy sounds most tempting! Thanks for the heads up.