New Bernard Cornwell show The Winter King is no The Last Kingdom

I first read Bernard Cornwell Warlord Chronicles in middle school. I’ve seen a few other King Arthur stuff here and there, but never something like this. It was epic without being cheesy, and accurate without being boring. It featured a bunch of characters most of us had heard of – Arthur, Merlin, etc – but had a different perspective on. They were real people at a real time and place in history, where the idea of ​​magic was treated with such fear and respect that it could have been real too, even if no one had shot a bolt of lightning out of their fingers.

gutted Winter King, the first book in the series, and a quick read of the next two. For years I thought they would make a great TV series. And now MGM+ has gone and made it. And the first episode… pretty lame, all things considered. We know Cornwell’s work can make good TV; Just look at mustache A series starring Sean Bean, or a Netflix show The last kingdom. in my opinion, Warlord Chronicles is Cornwell’s best work, so I’m very disappointed that MGM+ Winter King It is such a medium voltage.

The TV show seems intent on taking everything that made Cornwell’s books so different and interesting and boiling them away. The books are not about Arthur or Merlin, but about Derfel, a young pagan boy who in time becomes a warrior in Arthur’s service. In the book, we see him grow up in Ynys Wydryn’s Merlin compound (it was changed to Avalon in the series, I think because they thought people might recognize the name). He has a youthful flirtation with Merlin’s lover Nemo, learns about the strangeness of the Christians and the threat of the Saxons, and finally meets characters like Arthur and Merlin in the story. When they arrive, it’s a big moment.

Darville in the show, played by Stuart Campbell, however Winter King He chooses the lead Arthur and Merlin, perhaps because he expects us to expect them. But one of the great things Cornwell’s books did was give us a different view of the Arthurian legend. Derfel is the main character, a witness to the events of this famous story. And in seeing those events through his eyes, we see them in a new way. By bringing in Arthur (Ian de Kesteker) and Merlin (Nathaniel Martello-White) too early, Winter King It becomes like any other version of the Arthurian legend, only darker and more brutal.

Winter King It gets off to a rocky start on MGM+

Lots of historical context for Warlord Chronicles stripped. In Cornwell’s books, there is great tension between paganism and Christianity, then growing influence on the island of Britain. In the books, Arthur’s father Uther is a pagan who has had enough of the Christian attendants helping his wife Norwena during labour, so he calls on people from Merlin’s camp to take their place. The show hints at that tension, but it never feels real, nor does it ever affect how the characters think and act.

In fact, nothing in this first episode of Winter King He feels very important. The characters talk in explanatory statements about themselves that tell who they are in bullet form, but nothing about why to care. (Derfel: “I am a warrior.” Merlin to Nemo: “You will become the most powerful druid in Britain.”) Everyone is talking about something, but no one is talking. Most of the characters speak and act in much the same way, with precious little personality on display. In the books, Merlin is a kind of cranky old bird. On the show, it’s… cute. Wise, leader and kind.

My favorite moment from the premiere is when priestess Merlin Morgan (Valene Kane) rips the crucifix from the hands of a very pregnant Norwina, who at the time is in labour. That moment reminded me of the elevated whore Morgan in the books, which was cute. But it’s a small character moment in an episode more concerned with convincing us of how epic it is than with developing characters who can make it happen.

So yeah, I didn’t like this. I’m going to keep watching for a while to see if things get better, but this one was… Ugh, it kinda hurt, I’m not going to lie.

Episode score: Dr

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