Blame it on bettyboop_comic
, who first alerted me to its existence: I have bought (and watched) my first DVD of the French television series Kaamelott
(the second is on its way to me at this very moment *g*). The setting is King Arthur's court, and the three-minute (!) episodes are all ... completely crazy.
Although the series is to all intents and purposes set in fifth-century Britain (Rome hasn't fallen yet, Christianity is just gaining a foothold, Merlin is a druid...), it is full of anachronisms in costume and such, but most notably in its ideas. Arthur is quite the enlightened ruler; he objects to torture, he wants to abolish the death sentence - things that don't sit too well with his entourage, though they do admit that 'c'est moderne'. The comedy derives mostly from the utter ineptitude of Arthur's friends and subjects. The people he needs to accomplish his lofty goals are so incredibly stupid that they never manage to carry out his orders properly. Perceval gets his own name wrong and doesn't know the meaning of such words as 'left' and 'right' (try involving him in a campaign!); Karadoc's only concerns are food and drink; Bohort is an incredible coward; Gauvain and Yvain (see icon) are absolutely puerile; and when in battle, Arthur's soldiers do exactly as they please. Oh - and Merlin's greatest accomplishments seem to be that he vanquished the Weasel of Winchester and wrote a treatise called, "Druidism Explained to Old People". It is a small miracle that Camelot is still standing! And this motley crew is supposed to find the Grail?!
The series' creators make interesting choices when it comes to Arthurian lore; for example, they choose to highlight Arthur's infidelities. Everybody knows of the romance between Guinevere and Lancelot, but it is often forgotten that in the old texts, Arthur is not a loyal husband. In the series he has plenty of mistresses, with whom the completely innocent Guinevere is actually on good terms - so far. Also interesting is Kaamelott
's exploration of the character of Léodagan (Leodegrance), Arthur's father-in-law. Tradition has it that he is a knight of the Round Table too (in fact, some sources say that the table itself was his wedding gift to his daughter Guinevere, though this is not the case in the series); in Kaamelott
, Léodagan lives in Arthur's castle with his wife Séli, and he is his son-in-law's counsellor as well as his greatest critic.
The episodes do not always go somewhere definite, and I don't think the humour is everybody's cup of tea. Much of my own pleasure derives from the clash between the 'Matter of Britain' and a heap of anachronisms and French silliness; more often than not, I grin or giggle rather than to laugh out loud. It's the unusual take on characters with whom I am familiar that endears the whole thing to me. If I had any talent for absurd comedy, I'd probably be writing Kaamelott
fanfic already XD.
Meanwhile I am brushing up my French. My knowledge of French insults is increasing rapidly!
I wish my second DVD would arrive... ;P
ETA: Have a taste...