episode #24, segment 2: The Last Defender of Camelot

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episode #24, segment 2: The Last Defender of Camelot

Post  BoG on Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:44 pm

#24b: THE LAST DEFENDER OF CAMELOT written by George R.R. Martin
---- and Roger Zelazny; Directed by Jeannot Szwarc
This segment, the final one of the first season, turns out to be one of the better ones due to the great performances: Richard Kiley as the elder, weary but still gallant Lancelot; Jenny Agutter as the intoxicating, mysterious Morgan le Fay; and Norman Lloyd as the devilish, wily Merlin. This one is pure fantasy, of course, all about magic, not sci-fi, but it succeeds at suggesting an otherworldly existence - one not observed by most of the populace, but there nonetheless.
The plot is basically a sequel to the entire legend of Camelot: Lancelot is the last surviving knight, still alive due to some spell that Merlin had placed on him and living in modern London. He's contacted by the also-still-around Morgan, who uses a local tough kid as her messenger; this punk ends up as Lancelot's latest squire. They are sent to Cornwall, where Merlin has been hibernating all this time in a cave. The story ends up turning the entire King Arthur legend on its head as Merlin, not Morgan, becomes the dangerous user who cannot adapt to the modern environment.
The story itself is almost perfunctory; it's fine but nothing to get excited about. What makes it eminently watchable are how the characters play off of each other, thanks to the superb acting. I was drawn in by these actors, gradually feeling like I was watching some great, classic play. Kiley is very charismatic and speaks his lines with incredible authority. Agutter is lovely - this was possibly her last significant role - and slightly mischievous.  And Lloyd just nailed the role of the old wizard whom you just can't trust (also, keep in mind that Lloyd was not British). Also watch for Anthony LaPaglia in a small early role as a thug. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10
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