Before I begin, I must make something clear – I’m a lifelong fan of the tale of King Arthur. Because of this, I’m also extremely hard to please. I have strong tastes when it comes to what I look for in the Arthurian legend, and I’ve hated more interpretations than I’ve liked.
When I heard that Starz was coming out with their own rendition of the legend, to say I was skeptical would be the understatement of the century. I tried to be excited but I’d been let down so many times before. I was jaded, and rightfully so I might add. My favorite character, Merlin, has been so wrongly portrayed so many times before that I’d practically given up hope that anyone would ever get it right.
Here’s where Starz comes in. I reluctantly sat down for the first episode of Camelot expecting the usual – a sub-par interpretation of the legend. I wasn’t prepared for what I’d find next. For the very first time I finally came across a version of Camelot that I actually could fall in love with. It only took about five minutes for me to realize that what I was experiencing at that moment was a dream come true for a diehard Arthurian fan like myself.
I practically devoured each and every episode right through the finale. However, something went terribly wrong. After a very successful first season, Camelot wasn’t renewed. The cast, crew and fans were shocked. How can such a show, which was able to embrace this legend and breathe new life into it, be cancelled? The reasons haven’t been officially released (for the record, it wasn’t due to ratings), but even so, there are some things that Starz could’ve done differently that might’ve aided Camelot in its survival. Let’s explore those right now.
Find a different actor to portray Arthur
Yep, that’s right. As much as I loved the show, I had no love of Jamie Campbell Bower as King Arthur. I assume their plan was to try to find a younger man who did not look like he had a royal presence, but did they need to find one that looked like a stoner? Personally, I believe Philip Winchester (who played Leontas) would’ve been better suited for the role. He had a young appearance and was dashing, and yet could appear somewhat courtly. Bower was just the wrong choice.
Have Merlin use more magic
I think this one is a given. Let me make one thing clear though – the special effects in this show were superb! From the lake scene to the falling, burning leaves, I was stunned by what I witnessed as I progressed through this series. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough of it. To be fair, there was very, very little. It was like a magic drought. Initially it was so refreshing to see Merlin casting elemental magic rather than the fairy dust other “Merlin wannabes” have cast in the past – why they wouldn’t have more of it is beyond me. I’m thinking cost might’ve been a factor and I can appreciate the idea of “quality over quantity.” Even so, the lack of magic was disappointing.
Less romance, more action
I bet this is something you wouldn’t think to hear from a girl. Being a huge Spartacus fan myself, I know what Starz is capable when it comes to good ol’ violence. I expected Arthur and his knights would defeat the realm’s enemies in brutal hand-to-hand combat so I was surprised not to see any real blood spurts in Camelot. I did enjoy the romance story between Igraine and Merlin, and Guinevere and Arthur respectively. I just wish they could’ve kept that and upped both the frequency and graphic detail of the battle scenes a bit more.
This was the best interpretation of the Arthurian legend I’ve ever seen, and I was hugely disappointed it wasn’t renewed when the ratings were obviously there. I can only hope that as time goes on, Starz will decide to reinstate it at some point because, for me, all other renditions fall terribly short.
A self-professed “geek girl” at heart, Christine Donatello considers herself extremely lucky to share her passion for science fiction with others. Her early exposure to sci-fi at the hands of her father no doubt fueled her interest at a young age and set the foundation for her lifelong love of anything not of this world. She’s the owner of ScienceFictionZone.com, a website dedicated to sharing both breaking news and entertainment with both new and diehard sci-fi fans alike. Christine is also a freelance writer by day and has been working in this field since 2009.