This week the programme Camelot started on New Zealand TV. Now I’m a long time fan of the Arthurian Legends and each time there’s a new adaptation I get my hopes up and tune in.
I recorded Camelot when it screened earlier in the week, and this afternoon sat down to watch it. It’s never a good sign when you start disagreeing with a TV Show before the titles you know you’re not in good shape.
The standard story of King Arthur goes like this – Arthur’s Dad Uther fancied this woman called Igraine, but there was a slight problem – she was already married. Rather than admit defeat Uther turned to his magician mate Merlin to do a few spells which would mean Igraine’s hubby was elsewhere fighting and Uther (disguised as Igrianes hubby) would go and have his way with her. Of course, as is the way in these things Arthur is conceived and Igraine and Uther marry. Igraine’s Daughters from her first marriage are sent away – Morgan Le Fay is sent to a convent and Morganna is married off. As part of the deal Merlin takes Arthur away at birth and has him raised so he’s able to be king.
Camelot decided that Morgan would be Uther’s daughter and Igraine’s step daughter, this is what had me yelling at the TV before the titles had played, I decided to give it a chance. I should have stopped then as it didn’t get any better, the completely unconvincing Arthur apparently had no idea that his foster parents weren’t his real parents. Even Joseph Fiennes who I love couldn’t save this and I didn’t even make to the half way point of the episode before deciding that I couldn’t stand this nonsense any longer.
I don’t understand why it’s practically impossible to make a screen adaptation which is consistent with the legend. The legend has lasted for around 1000 years, which is a pretty good indication that it’s a compelling enough story without changing things. Take Morgan Le Fay – she is traditionally out for revenge because her mother was essentially raped and forced into marriage by Uther who sent Morgan and her sister away. Those are pretty strong reasons for wanting revenge – changing the story so that Uther is Morgan’s father doesn’t make her story stronger it makes it weaker.
When I write my Arthur book (which I will one day) I hope that any screen adaptation actually gets the story right.