In a season that saw a reemergence of fantasy TV, it is Camelot - the Starz network’s retelling of the classic Arthurian legend - that will be the one to concede defeat. The network has declined to continue production on the big-budget series beyond the first season.
Premiering in April of this year to numbers good enough to make it Starz’s highest-rated series debut ever (1.13 million viewers), Camelot certainly got off to a great start.
The ratings eroded significantly throughout the season, however – and while there was a significant uptick in viewership for the final few episodes – as well as the season finale (reports put the final episode’s audience at more than a million viewers) there were immediately questions as to whether this surge in ratings would be enough for the series to continue.
While the network has announced Camelot will not go on, they have sidestepped the issue of ratings and placed the blame squarely on the fluctuating schedules of the show’s cast.
According to Deadline, scheduling conflicts amongst some of the program’s stars like Joseph Feinnes, Jamie Campbell Bower and Eva Green were substantial enough that, along with other issues, Starz simply decided to throw in the towel.
With Bower recently cast in Screen Gem’s adaptation of The Mortal Instruments, and Green having a role in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, it’s easy to see how it might be difficult to secure the stars for the season’s lengthy shoot in Ireland.
The network announced the series’ end with the following statement:
“Due to significant production challenges, Starz has decided not to exercise the option for subsequent seasons of Camelot with our production partners GK-tv, Octagon Films and Take 5 Productions.”
Another ‘production challenge’ could be the cost of the series in relation to its prospective revenue. With a period drama such as Camelot – which relied heavily on elaborate costumes, props and set pieces – the budget (rumored to be in the millions per episode) likely played a large role in the network’s decision to discontinue production.
Additionally, although it was received moderately well, Camelot was not without its detractors. Many found it to be a poor substitute for Starz’s other hit series, Spartacus, which won’t return to the network until early 2012. Also, let us not forget that Camelot had the misfortune of airing around the same time as HBO’s similarly-themed Game of Thrones, which, in comparison, saw its ratings and acclaim rise with each passing episode – the effect of which likely played negatively on the flailing Camelot.
In terms of the content, the series struggled to find its legs – seemingly meandering through several episodes – unsure how best to translate the abstract nature of the program’s central theme. At one moment Camelot was a romantic period piece, with Arthur torn between his duty as a king and his love for Guinevere, the wife of his champion Leontes (Philip Winchester), while the next moment it was delving into the mystery of Merlin (Joseph Feinnes) and Morgan’s (Eva Green) mystical abilities.
All in all, the parts didn’t create a compelling enough whole.
Though Camelot was not the success it was hoping for, Starz still has plenty of original content to look forward to – starting with the premiere of Torchwood: Miracle Day in July. Afterward, the network has Boss with Kelsey Grammer, the crime saga Magic City starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and the long-delayed second season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, entitled Spartacus: Vengeance starring Liam McIntyre as the new Thracian warrior-turned-rebel-leader.