Monday, April 4, 2011

Pilot Review: Camelot

Camelot (Starz)
Premiered April 1 at 9pm

Why Starz needs to keep churning out mindless fare like this and its “Spartacus” series rather than actually invest in inventive comedies like “Party Down” and “Gravity” is beyond me. Sure, ratings can be helpful, but what about originality? This show is entirely trite and extensively familiar in a rather cumbersome way. This King Arthur drama is full of visual effects, scenery, nudity, and little else. There’s a rather nauseating amount of sex very early on in the two-hour premiere, and it’s all so gratuitous, loud and aggressive. Later flashbacks to naked sex are additionally annoying and unnecessary. The dialogue here is rather horrendous, and there isn’t much in the way of strong performances either. Each actor seems capable of only one expression – Joseph Fiennes looks manic, Eva Green likes grimacing, and Claire Forlani is confused and hopeless. Arthur himself, Jaime Campbell Bower, is wide-eyed and blond, and doesn’t exactly inspire confidence with his youthful energy. The famous sword-removing scene is indulgent and overdone, as are most of the other memorable moments in the premiere, mostly choosing to emphasize blood and gore and little else. There isn’t actually all that much going on, and most of the drama is overstuffed and put off for later, a device invoked frequently by Fiennes’ unconvincing Merlin in the form of “all will be learned in due time.” I’m not into this at all, as it’s less dense than I might have expected but immensely irritating, melodramatic, and excessive at every turn. Link
How will it work as a series? It’s been done before, but it still doesn’t seem to be a concept fit for an entire series, especially when the sword has already been pulled out in episode two. Syfy’s “Merlin” presented an innovative take on the legend, but this doesn’t. It will fulfill those fans of the “Spartacus” series, however, and action lovers will enjoy it quite a bit.
How long will it last? It seems that Starz, which used to be a network with rich cinematic programming, is intent on producing expensive, action-heavy shows that draw big audiences. This show shouldn’t have trouble garnering viewers, and given the network’s enthusiastic renewal of the “Spartacus” brand, I can only imagine this one will have a bright future.

Pilot grade: F

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