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Camelot: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

Starz is on a roll and if you’ve been keeping track the train doesn’t stop for no one!  Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Spartacus: Gods of the Arena were instant smash hits, so it was a bit of a head spinner to see the company tackle the Arthurian legend of old in Camelot.  The promotional materials shown made the prospect of this new retelling even more appealing. What it also did was make fans anticipate that it would have the same level of blood, sex, and violence that both of the previous Spartacus shows had.  The biggest question on everyone’s mind was…would  Camelot deliver the goods or would it just be hype?  Keep reading and find out!    

 

The Show 

Starz has returned with their latest television show entitled Camelot. Camelot is a ten episode series event that remakes and reboots the classic legend.  Joseph Fiennes stars as Merlin, who is not an actual wizard, per se, but someone who has dabbled in the dark arts.  Jaime Campbell Bower plays the future king of the Camelot crown, and Eve Green is Morgan, the woman who will do anything to be the true queen of Camelot.

There really isn’t anything to this vision of Camelot with the exception of a few liberties to sort of ground them in reality.  Watching the show I can see how people may actually ask if that’s how it happened in real life.  Doing it this way lends itself to it being somewhat believable.  The cast is of screen and televison veterans is impressive except for one.  Jaime Campbell Bower as Arthur.  Wow, I do believe that he is severely miscast as the lead.  Watching him and his expressiveness, or lack of, was painful most of the time.  There was always this “wide-eyed” look to him in every instance that I could not take him seriously.  Joseph Fiennes and Eva Green, in their respective roles, steal the show.  Merlin is played in a highly dubious fashion by Fiennes.  You don’t know whether he’s a good guy or bad guy.  Some of his actions lead toward the latter.  Green is delicious as Morgan and she steals the show in every frame that she is in.

The Knights are also here with the exception of Lancelot who was supposedly going to be introduced in a latter season.  Unfortunately, that will not happen, because the show has been cancelled.   The show was very expensive to produce.  One number that I read was upwards of seven million dollars per episode, so imagine a ten episode season cost.  That’s a feature film right there.  I also read that some of the actors would not be available due to scheduling conflicts.  I guess that’s what happens when you cast well known people.  They have stuff to do.

Getting back to Camelot, some asked if the show would be as risky as the previous Spartacus offerings.  my answer to that is yes and no.  Camelot is not as well written as Spartacus.  Camelot starts off really strong in the beginning, then the momentum tapers off and it just meanders for a bit in the middle.  It doesn’t pick up steam until the very end.  There is lots of sex and female nudity, and there is a lot of bloodshed to be had.  On certain occasions I did find the actual battle scenes not epic enough, because there really aren’t massive armies to be found on either side-good or bad.  The armies in Camelot seem to range between 40-50 men at any given time.  That’s a low budget army to me.

There are times that the show slowed down to a crawl where I wished something would happen, and these scenes usually involved Arthur.  I wanted Merlin or Morgan to come in there and slap him or something.  James Purefoy (Ironclad & Solomon Kane) as King Lot was badass and made for a great addition to the show.  He knows how to handle a sword and uses it to inflict some great damage.

I did enjoy the retelling of certain aspects of the legend.  The sword in the stone was pretty clever, but I really LOVED how they set up the lady in the lake part which figures into the story as she’s the one that gives Arthur his sword of Excalibur.  These two scenes were terrific.

In closing out this review I would have wanted to see where the show was going to go in future episodes, but that won’t happen now.  Just when it was getting good, the rug gets pulled from underneath our feet!

 

Video 

Camelot is presented in 1080p, 1.78:1 widescreen.  Camelot benefits from actual location shooting as opposed to soundstage work.  It was shot in Ireland and looks spectacular, for the most part.  Flesh tones appear natural, there are no serious instances of DNR or intrusive edge enhancement found.  There is a bit of slight color banding here and there, but it’s not serious or distracting.  Contrast runs smooth and isn’t overly hot.  Landscape colors, in my opinion, should have had a bit more “pop” to them, but they were alright.  Camelot is a pretty good looking Blu-ray.

Audio  

Camelot is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless sound.  Dialogue is crisp and clear; sword clashes don’t clip the speakers, and the LFE levels are nice and tight.  It could have gotten a better score, but it’s not an action packed show every minute of every frame, so a perfect score for audio is out of the question.  That being said, the four star rating is very generous.  It’s good to see Anchor Bay and Starz still utilizing TrueHD lossless.  There aren’t that many tracks left in the Blu-ray world.  Cheers!

Special Features 

Camelot, on the surface, seems to have a nice heap of special features, but when actually played all the way through there really isn’t that much of worthy supplements.  What’s even more offensive, in my opinion, is that the majority of the featurettes and making-of material (with the exception of the excellent technical featurettes) is the abundance of “fluff” promotional featurettes.  Yes, it’s the same tired format of, “what really attracted me to the script was…” or “so and so are fantastic and a pleasure to work with, blah, blah…”  The worst part is that these featurettes run at about two minutes (sometimes less).  They’re padding, and that’s not cool.

  • Camelot Chronicles: Pop-Up History (Blu-ray Only)
  • Starz Studios: Camelot
  • Camelot Character Profiles
  • The Knights
  • The Women of Camelot
  • Candid Camelot
  • Scene Breakdowns
  • On The Set: Mooney’s Movie
  • Camelot Blooper Reel


Final Thoughts

Camelot certainly had potential to be a great show, but only succeeds at being okay.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but I would suggest against going in and thinking that this is a “King Arthur” show.  It is not.  Relish the performances by Joseph Fiennes and Eva Green, because they knock it out of the park!

 

 

Order Camelot: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

2 Responses to “Camelot: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    This one looks like it could go either way in my book 🙁

  2. Christopher

    I agree Eva Green stole the show.