Another telling of the timeless story of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, the wizard Merlin, and the sorceress Morgan, based on Thomas Mallory's 15th century Le Morte d'Arthur.
When the BBC made their own recent Arthurian show, Merlin , they went to the trouble of shooting it in Europe - as they did with the dire Robin Hood . In contrast, the North American producers of this show hired Chris Chibnall (one of the brains behind Torchwood ) and a local cast and crew and filmed this in the British isles. And while this was being filmed near Dublin, another US-funded Fantasy series ( Game of Thrones ) was being made in Belfast. Perhaps the BBC should have invested in turning Belfast into a centre of drama production the same way they did with Cardiff when they based the relaunched Dr Who franchise there.
Castle Pendragon is visited by Morgan Pendragon ( Eva Green ), daughter of King Uther. He beats her and banishes her from the castle again. But that night, he is mysteriously poisoned ... all before the starting credits!
Merlin (Joseph Fiennes - Flash Forward ) is the manipulative power behind the throne. He selects Uther's secret son Arthur as the next King. Arthur is a pretty-boy who looks too young to shave, but his womanising ways bring to mind the classic love triangle - Caesar, Cleopatra and Marc Anthony.
Morgan makes an alliance with King Lott (James Purefoy - Solomon Kane ).
King Lott (James Purefoy - Solomon Kane ) orders Arthur to leave Camelot within five days. Morgan comes to doubt the wisdom of her alliance with him.
Arthur dreams of shagging a beautiful blonde ( Tamsin Egerton ) - before he even meets her.
Merlin knows that Arthur has no right to the throne - he lacks legitimacy, or even military force. So Merlin decides to cheat by tricking the peasants into supporting him. He gets Arthur to pull the sword from the stone (spectacularly positioned in the middle of a waterfall). Didn't Monty Python say something about this?
All Arthur can think about is his Champion's betrothed - Guinevere ( Tamsin Egerton ). He and Merlin visit Morgan's castle for the wedding ceremony. Morgan has got a Saracen maidservant, Vivian (Chanthro from Dr Who ), descended from Roman slaves.
Arthur's henchmen go looking for another helper. They find a sociopathic hermit named Gawain (Clive Standen - Vikings ) who lives in a burnt-out church. He is teaching himself how to read ... Latin.
Merlin (Joseph Feinnes - Flash Forward ) goes to blacksmith Caliburn (Vincent Regan - Lockdown ) to get Arthur a new sword. The smith's daughter is called Excalibur - a latinised translation of the Gaelic term Hard Blade.
Morgan ( Eva Green ) has a mysterious illness. She throws up, and bleeds from every orifice. Only a figure from her past can save her.
Arthur and his pals save villager Liam Cunningham ( Dog Soldiers ) from a lynch-mob. But with the man accused of murder, Arthur has to conduct a trial. Justice must be SEEN to be done. Also, Arthur must reinforce his position as the only one who deserves sex on a regular basis.
Morgan ( Eva Green ) plots. Her sidekick, a woman dressed as a penguin, seems the smartest of the plotters. They realise that the population think Arthur is soft on crime, and she plays the oldest political trick in the book by playing to the audience.
Merlin (Joseph Feinnes - Flash Forward ) lurks in the shadows.
Arthur sends his pals out to put up his flag around the countryside. Merlin (Joseph Feinnes - Flash Forward ) borrows them to help him loot a library.
Guinevere ( Tamsin Egerton ) goes off to find her daddy. Arthur goes off alone to find her. No nudity, but he does get to see her in a wet tee-shirt.
Morgan ( Eva Green ) takes a naked bath, and one of her guards does what half the audience are doing.
The King and his minions visit Morgan's place for a feast. They are besieged by forces unknown, presumably belonging to a neighbouring warlord. But Morgan is plotting ...
Morgan ( Eva Green ) still does a lot of nudity. But because she is played by a different actress in this episode, one presumes there is a lot of work for the body double.
Morgan has used sorcery to disguise herself as Igraine. She infiltrates Camelot, intending to spread discord among Arthur's minions. The love triangle with Guinevere is the obvious target.
The real Igraine ( Claire Forlani ) is left locked up with only one lonely Irishman as a guard.
Morgan's subtle plot to get Arthur and his champ to fight over Guinevere takes its hold. But it is not a fast-burning one - Merlin (Joseph Feinnes - Flash Forward ) is soon on top of things.
A brat named Albion arrives at the gates of Camelot. He only tells the guards that his own family is in trouble, not bothering to mention the strategic value of Badon Pass. They do not let him in, so he outwits their security and confronts Arthur personally. A pity Morgan could not hire a good assassin, she could have killed both Merlin and Arthur in one go.
Arthur and his entourage ride off to Badon Pass. Guinevere ( Tamsin Egerton ) rides into the warzone unarmed and alone. Luckily the villains cannot hit a big target like a horse, although they get much more accurate against one man on foot!
Arthur holds the Pass alone. Luckily he has time to MacGuyver up some defences. He also uses the Jack Bauer interrogation technique. The attackers are mostly cleanshaven, which is odd since the peasants in Game of Thrones are beardy and long-haired so as to look properly medieval.
Morgan ( Eva Green ) takes her prisoners to Camelot, where she unofficially makes herself the defacto Queen Regent until her soon-to-be-dead sibling returns. She is easily the least unlikeable character, so let's hope she wins.