Starz continues their quest to become more than just another movie channel by adding more original programming to their slate with Camelot. Following the success of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and the critically acclaimed but woefully underwatched Party Down, Starz has ordered 10 episodes of Camelot, a reimagining of the Arthurian legend, which begins filming this month with the premiere set for “early 2011″.
Casting news has leaked for some of the major roles: Joseph Fiennes (from the recently canceled FlashFoward) will play Merlin; Eva Green (Sybilla in Kingdom of Heaven) will play evil sorceress Morgana; Jamie Campbell Bower will play Arthur; and Tamsin Egerton will be Guinevere.
This is some interesting casting. I love the idea of Eva Green as Morgana; her characters are always slightly off-kilter, always seeming to walk the line of sanity. That makes for a delightfully sinister nemesis. Fiennes as Merlin isn’t an obvious choice, but I look forward to seeing what he does with the role. I can see him as sort of a Dumbledore The Early Years, yes? I’m not familiar with Jamie Campbell Bower or Tamsin Egerton, but their casting tells me the show is building in opportunities for some hot scenes between young lovers.
Also of interest to me is the resurgence in popularity of the King Arthur myth, but with a twist. Syfy is running the second season of the BBC’s Merlin this summer (Fridays at 10/9c), a prequel told from the young wizard’s perspective. Now we’re getting a more adult version, again likely to tell us more about the magical side of the story. Is this an off-shoot of the vampire phenomenon? And the werewolf/shapeshifter craze that’s about to grip the nation? I think it is, my friends. I predicted the werewolf onslaught a couple of years ago, and said that after that we’d likely get wizards and witches.
Want to know the source of my prescience? Go to your local bookstore and check out the romance section. Vampires were huge in romance novels about 5 years ago; then a couple of years later came slightly-ahead-of-its-time Moonlight, then Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries and their derivatives on our screens. About 3 years ago, I noticed a trend toward novels about shapeshifters and werewolves began filling the shelves. And now? Get ready for those storylines on the aforementioned shows. Then about 18 months ago, the vampires and shifters started giving way to witches and wizards. There’d been a little bit of a trend in chick lit before then, as there was with vampires, and of course Harry Potter has been golden for more than a decade, but in my experience the true test of a pop culture phenomenon is if the romance section suddenly fills up with a specific theme. Now here we are, with another too-soon series based on a soon-to-be-a-hit theme (Eastwick), a probable hit in Camelot, Merlin chugging along just fine, and several other witches & wizards projects in various stages of production.
Here’s hoping Camelot can set a quality precedent, like True Blood did for its genre.