Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten, or unknown film and TV credits, continues this week with works featuring Eva Green.
Camelot “Homecoming” (2011)
Season 1, Episode 1
Story by Chris Chibnall and Michael Hirst; Teleplay by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Ciaran Donnelly
I knew Starz’s Camelot wasn’t going to have the same take on the King Arthur legend as BBC’s Merlin did. One is premium cable, the other family television. Arthur would no longer settle for shirtless and Camelot‘s budget would hypothetically make the special effects more convincing. Yet one fairly standard element of the legend, as we know it today (because if you actually go back to the early stories, those heroes weren’t written as white knight as we’ve been taught to remember) is Arthur’s inherent nobility. He makes mistakes. He can be arrogant. But he’s a character who stands on admirable principles, even when having a conscience makes ruling extra challenging. It’s one of the reasons we keep turning back to his legend, instead of inventing new kings and wizards. He’s supposed to make better choices than the rest of us.
With Camelot, we’d be lucky if he makes a decision at all. As Arthur, Jamie Campbell Bower delivers his lines with conviction but never seems to lose a wide-eyed look that undermines any leadership qualities he’s supposed to inspire. Arthur wasn’t raised as Uther Pendragon’s son and is only learning about his true birthright now. The separation was meant to shape him into a better man than Uther (Sebastian Koch). Despite Sean Pertwee playing his adopted father, I’ve yet to be convinced.
The show recognizes that Arthur still has a long way to go. They wouldn’t have his stepbrother, Kay (Peter Mooney), who acts much more like a good king should, in scenes like arguing for burying strangers at personal risk, tag along if they didn’t want to make that contrast. Yet, in a first episode you need that glimpse of potential that says ‘if I stick around this guy is gonna become a contender—amount to more than a girl obsessed royal.’ So far, I’d be shocked.
Arthur’s not the only thing seedier and more ready to be compromised in Camelot. Joseph Fiennes plays about the shiftiest, magic-less Merlin I’ve ever seen. Fine, he’s older than some of the recent Merlins and doesn’t have a beard to compensate for it. Who cares? I’m only asking that he look halfway trustworthy and not about to stab Arthur in the back the first chance he gets. Tricking Arthur into coming to Camelot, without a full understanding of what he’s walking into, is acceptable joshing. But when you learn about his larger machinations in Arthur’s existence, the depths he has been willing to steep, this is not a king’s greatest ally material.
Green’s wronged, angry Morgan at least feels familiar from the stories but with her character the opposite problem is true. She’s familiar to a fault. Morgan should be wreaking havoc and tossing out all the best lines, not procuring herself a king for appearances sake and being restricted to glares in costume. I would like to see how her unabashed hatred of her stepmom rolls out, since banishment didn’t crush the woman as she’d hoped, but that’s about it.
Verdict: Not sure
Eva Green would seem born to play the role of Morgan but Camelot doesn’t let her loose, while changes to legend are unexpected but regrettable. It’s only been one episode but I don’t know that there’s going to be another one.
Check back tomorrow for Eva Green’s performance as a mom for whom being a housewife has lost its appeal.