I’m in fantasy heaven while Starz and HBO battle it out to capture the same audience. The following contains a lot of spoilers so if you had any intention of watching these, you've been warned.
Camelot is loosely based on the rise of King Arthur and is historically accurate for the period and geography, regardless of whether Arthur himself is fact or fiction. On the other hand, both Merlin and Morgan practice sorcery. So in that regard, it is still of the "fantasy" genre.
Game of Thrones is based on a fictional world which looks almost identical to medieval times but seems to have a large variety of cultures (though mostly British accents) within an unfathomably limited square mile area and some zombie-like creatures on the attack.
Camelot has had a lot of death, but not a huge amount of bloodshed with two notable exceptions. One of these exceptions is King Lot spearing Sir Ector in the gut and Ector walking forward on the spear, plunging it deeper and deeper until he gets close enough to Lot that he pulls a dagger out and stabs him the back. Best. Death. Ever.
Game of Thrones seems to favor decapitation, which just appears way too fake for me. Not that I've witnessed any decapitations in my life. It could very well look like that for all I know.
Winner: Camelot (if you're going to kill people make it look real)
You would think that Camelot would have this wrapped up with the whole Morgan and Arthur relationship (they are half-siblings, but in the legends have a child together through a mistake of "enchantments"). But Game of Thrones stepped it up a notch when 10-year-old Bran comes across the Queen getting it from her twin brother. But wait there's more...because certainly that's not shocking enough...they also threw in some weird thing going on with an exiled Lord and his sister that he is selling off to a warlord to get his aide in winning back his throne. Sweet.
Winner: Camelot (I prefer my incest a little less overt)
Regular Old Sex
Speaking of sex, you can't have a show on HBO or Starz without it. Often. And I find myself saying that Starz has been almost tasteful in it's nudity in Camelot. The makers of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Shocking, yes? But if it's gratuitous boobies you want, turn right on over to Game of Thrones because there is plenty to go around for all of HBO, Showtime and Cinemax combined. Some of it just doesn't even make sense, but maybe that's just because I'm not as fascinated with bouncing orbs of fatty tissue...or silicon.
Winner: Camelot (because I'll take Leontes’ ass over 1000 prostitutes’ boobs any day)
Didn't think I was going to get to this, did you? So Camelot had a wealth of material to turn to from classical literature to modern fantasy, which they are clearly choosing to ignore. And though the average viewer probably doesn't give a crap, I would like...just for once...it doesn't seem too much to ask...for someone to tell the damn thing the way Tennyson or White or (and this is saying a lot for me, because it is mind-numbing) Mallory intended. Just once. If I pretend that this isn't about Arthur and Merlin, but rather too other people with the same name...it's pretty good. And they get two bonus points for doing the two most important scenes justice (pulling the sword from stone and retrieving Excalibur from the "lady in the lake").
Game of Thrones is the first book in a series that I never read, so right away it has that going for it. It's still a little confusing how the kingdoms are connected. Plus, there are multiple story lines to keep track of. But seeing as it is the first episode and I'm already drawn in by a couple of them, I anticipate them coming together more by the next episode. Particularly, the exiled princess Daenerys that was married off to some savage, the obviously honorable Stark household and their dire wolves (particularly the young tomboy daughter), and just who the hell these zombie things are.
Winner: Game of Thrones (clearly I'm biased)
I do not like the kid they got to play Arthur. He has not grown on me. At all. Compounded by the fact that they aren't making his character very sympathetic at the moment does not go over well with me. Joseph Fiennes as Merlin leaves me hot and cold. When he's being sarcastic, I like him. When he's being crazy sorcerer guy, he's over the top. Not thrilled with Gawain who I really want to like so maybe he's the one that will grow on me. I do like Kay, Gwynovere and Morgan. And the one person I shouldn't like (because he doesn't exist in the legend) ended up my favorite character - Leontes (and not because of his butt). He does an excellent job as the king's champion and recruiter of knights. Of course, if they end up revealing that his real name is Lancelot, I will give up the show in total because that is just wrong.
This is what I have come to expect from HBO. Even when I don't like the shows that much, they do an excellent job casting. Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings, Troy, The Lightning Thief) is the perfect choice to center this around. And while I have a great dislike for many of the characters, I'm pretty sure that is intended and a sign that they are being played brilliantly. (From what I can tell in one episode.)
Winner: Game of Thrones (I am having a tough time getting past my Arthur fixation)
OVERALL WINNER BY WEIGHTED AVERAGE:
Game of Thrones (but I'll keep watching Camelot until they piss me off with the Lancelot thing)