We actually stuck by FlashForward until the bitter end, so we're glad to see that its star, Joseph Fiennes, bounced back quickly. He'll soon be appearing in Starz's new series Camelot, and he had a good sense of humor about switching shows when he spoke with us over the weekend.
"I felt like I went through a series of blackouts for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, woke up and the whole landscape had changed again," Fiennes joked as he spoke to the Television Critics Association via satellite from the set in Dublin on Aug. 7. "Here I was in a Celtic countryside. Who knows? It's a topsy-turvy world, isn't it? It's exciting, exhilarating, I'm passionate and loved my time with FlashForward and all the wonderful people I met with and worked with there. It was hugely ambitious, but being taken off air for so long to find our feet, we didn't pull it off."
He's got a lot more faith in Camelot. For one thing, the epic story of King Arthur is already laid out. They don't have to stretch an idea into 22 episodes. They can just take the time the legend deserves.
"It's a beautiful, riveting, romantic, sensational epic story that has never been told in all of its episodes," Fiennes said. "I think television is a wonderful medium for that. I love television, that it can explore in ways that film just can't do because film is structured to a particular arc and time frame. Yet the liberation of television, and certainly with Camelot, allows you just to go hell for leather and really get into the meat of an amazing story and bring it to life and breathe life into it. I think the other renditions have been fractured, one or two episodes of characters Arthur, Merlin, Morgana. No one's ever done the full impact."
Chris Chibnall is writing and running the show. He assured us he's packing each episode with Arthurian goodness so we won't be left waiting and waiting for answers.
"We have a grand plan which, if we get things right, I hope we'll have multiple seasons," Chibnall said. "We are telling the story of Camelot, really using Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur as our source material and base material. We're starting right from the birth of Arthur, and we're going through. We're just about to do our version of the sword in the stone this week, which is not like any other version you've seen. But we will start at the beginning, and we will make our way through."
Starz won't interrupt the show every 10 minutes to sell cars and toilet paper. We'd just fast-forward through the commercials anyway, but this will also make the acting better.
"I'm loving the fact that there are no commercial breaks, and you don't have to do that thing to the camera just before the commercial break's about to come, and you have to hold that close-up for so long," Fiennes said. "Then you come back and revisit it. So I love that we're free of that. The medium here we're working with is this wonderful hybrid between film and television. I come from film. I love film, and I think the hybrid that Starz has is really exciting, because you get to investigate for long periods of time. You're not interrupted relentlessly. It's not about depending on advertisers. We're free to deliver stuff at high quality for an audience that doesn't need to be interrupted or patronized with commercial breaks. I love that purity and what that allows us as creators."
And, since it's on the Spartacus: Blood and Sand network, they can show lots of sex. Maybe not great ancient orgies like the other show, but enough to make it the most grown-up Camelot we've ever seen.
"There's probably more [sex] than the [Lerner and Loewe] musical, I would say," Chibnall said. "It's part of our palettes, and also we have some beautiful actors as well. This is an adult drama, of course, but I think we are our own show. The great thing about Camelot is you can talk about political pursuits. You can talk about great agendas. You can talk about a king bringing hope to a turbulent kingdom, but the extraordinary thing in all the version of Camelot and Arthurian legend is it's all about the romance. It's all about the passion. It's all about great ideals compromised by falling in love with the wrong person. So it's an element of our storytelling."
Camelot also stars James Purefoy, Eva Green, Jamie Campbell Bower and Tamsin Egerton. It's coming to Starz in spring 2011.