Tuesday, March 08, 2011

TV Report: Camelot

Joseph Fiennes is Merlin if Merlin was a cranky old child molester.

Yes, I watched the preview episode of Camelot on Starz last week. I expected it to be bad, but I didn't expect it to make me lose the will to live. And granted, I am a very hard to please Arthurian. I love the myths and legends so much that I'm invariably disappointed by 99% of the versions I see in TV and film. But this was possibly the worst yet. I'm torn between this and Jerry Bruckheimer's King Arthur as being the worst of the worst.

I hate everything about it, from every viewpoint. Most egregiously, I despise Joseph Fiennes, playing Merlin as such a Ninth Doctor rip-off that I don't know why they didn't just sign Christopher Eccleston for the role. His Merlin is a cliche from the last decade of style-over-story entertainment, but lurking in the shadows with this pedo-smile that makes me break out in a terrified sweat. Between him and the little baby playing Arthur, I had to sit on my hands to keep from tearing my hair out. The story isn't told in a fresh or compelling way; it looks like a junior high production of Lord of the Rings. I just hated it so god damn much.

The only thing I liked was James Purefoy as King Lot. He was the only actor who seemed to understand the garbage he was in and just let himself go, playing Lot as the bastard son of a particularly drunk and bearded Richard Burton. He was fun. Everything else... sweet Jesus.

I think I found a show that irritated me more than Will & Grace. Or... no, nothing could ever be that shrill.


Devilham said...

You know which iteration of the Arthurian legend I loved, and I wouldn't be surprised if you did too (but who know's? Not me!), Sword in the Stone, the Disney cartoon.....a really fun retelling of The Once and Future King, one of my all time favorite books (God, I haven't read that book in like 20 years, I should get it to read to my boy!). Other than that, I can't think of many good theatrical presentations of the legends....you have a favorite I should check out?

SamuraiFrog said...

I love The Once and Future King to pieces! I liked The Sword in the Stone, too; I think seeing it as a kid really began my love affair with the Arthur myth, because I just loved Wart changing into animals and Merlin and his talking owl Archimedes.

I don't really love any of the movies. I know Excalibur is popular, but I've never cared much for it. I like the miniseries Merlin, for the most part; it's a bit silly, but I dug Sam Neill as Merlin and all the stuff about fairies.

JP said...

I really enjoyed Nikolai Tolstoy's take on Merlin in the novel The Coming Of The King; sadly a series that will never be resumed. The Crimson Chalice by Victor Canning was a surprisingly good stripped-down take on the Arthur legend; it was what the 2004 King Arthur should have been. Did you see the BBC series, Merlin, about a teenage Merlin? I've seen a bit of it, I liked what I saw.

SamuraiFrog said...

I haven't really seen it; I saw bits and pieces of it but tend to be turned off when Merlin's, like, 12.

Anonymous said...

Will there be that immortal line, though?

"I have to push the pram a lot!"