DVD: Camelot: Season 1 (15)

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The Independent Culture

Following in the footsteps of The Tudors and Spartacus comes Camelot, another high-profile, high-budget quasi-historical drama (with added fantasy, in this instance).

The casting in this half-Canadian, half-Irish production is impeccable: from the ethereal Eva Green as the manipulative and opportunistic Morgan, intent on her right to her father's throne, to Joseph Fiennes as the wizard Merlin, noble ally of King Arthur and custodian of the Camelot legend. Refreshingly, few of them resemble the old mythical figures of popular imagining; Merlin is young and handsome, while King Arthur looks less like a medieval royal and more like a boyband member circa 1996. The feel here is much younger, more relatable.

Yet, despite its A-list cast (which also includes the Bambi-ish Tamsin Egerton and Sweeney Todd's Jamie Campbell Bower as a young King Arthur), Camelot fails to ignite. It can be unexpectedly difficult to follow – the plot thick with scheming and revenge – and there is, despite the luscious costumes and sweeping scenery, a distinct whiff of ham about the undertaking. Perhaps it's due to the fact that the characters don't seem to stop ripping each others' clothes off; as with The Tudors, there has been more than a little sexing up here. The result is a bit of vaguely watchable Tuesday-night TV – not a compelling box-set buy.