tek's rating: ¾

The Mists of Avalon, on TNT
IMDb; TV Tango; TV Tropes; Wikipedia

Caution: spoilers

Based on a 1983 novel by Marion Zimmer Bradley (which I haven't read), the miniseries first aired in 2001. I'm sure I saw it at that time, but I didn't remember much of anything about it until I watched it again on DVD in 2021. I couldn't even remember how many nights it aired over, but looking it up now it seems to have been just two nights; I would have thought it was more. Wikipedia's summary of the plot splits it into eight parts, so I assume that was four per night. But the DVD doesn't separate it in that fashion, so I won't, either. I'll just separate it by what I assume to be the nights on which it aired. (The DVD also doesn't break that up, with credits or anything, which I find really annoying.) Anyway, the miniseries retells the story of King Arthur from a more Druidic and feminine point of view. It's narrated by Morgaine le Fay (Julianna Margulies).

Night One
The story begins when Morgaine is 8 years old, living with her mother, Igraine, who worships the earth goddess, and her father, Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall, who is a Christian. Igraine's younger sister Morgause (Joan Allen) also lives with them, and is also a follower of the Goddess. Their older sister Viviane (Angelica Huston) is the Lady of the Lake, who lives on the mist-enshrouded island of Avalon, where she is the Goddess's high priestess. She tells them of a prophecy that Igraine will bear the future ruler of Britain, to a man with a dragon tattoo, but Igraine refuses to betray her husband. The man with the tattoo turns out to be Uther Pendragon, who becomes the new king of Britain. Gorlois rebels against him, and is killed. After that, Igraine becomes his queen, and bears a son, Arthur. Also, Morgause meets King Lot of Orkney, and soon becomes his queen.

The story then flashes forward to when Morgaine is 13 and Arthur is 5. The two of them are very close, so they're devastated when they are separated by Merlin and Viviane. Merlin takes Arthur to train him, while Viviane takes Morgaine to Avalon, to train to become a priestess. It takes 10 years (according to Wikipedia) for Morgaine to complete her training (at which point she's played by Margulies). She then meets her cousin Lancelot, the son of Viviane. They see a procession of women walking along a path in Glastonbury, separated by the mists of Avalon. Morgaine parts the mist temporarily so that Lancelot can meet one of the women, Gwenhwyfar (Samantha Mathis). The two of them quickly hit it off, and a jealous Morgaine closes the mists. Some time after that, Morgaine has to play the Virgin Huntress in a ceremony where she, wearing a mask, makes love to a masked man, whom she hopes is Lancelot, but is not meant to ever know his true identity.

Later, Uther is killed in a battle with the invading Saxons, and Viviane appears to Arthur in a vision, and tells him to pull the sword Excalibur from a stone, as a symbol of his right to become the new king, I guess. (Though obviously that wasn't necessary, since he was first in line of succession, anyway. But it does help him defeat the Saxons.) Morgaine attends Arthur's coronation. At this point she learns who the masked man was, but I don't want to spoil that. I'll just say it was devastating, and something for which I hated Viviane and Merlin having arranged. Morgaine also reunites with her aunt Morgause, and we learn that she and Lot have a son named Gawain, whom they hope will someday become king of Britain, himself. And we learn that Arthur is betrothed to Gwhenhwyfar. Though she and Lancelot are in love, they both promise not to act on their feelings, because of their loyalty to Arthur. Morgause secretly curses Gwenhwyfar, so that she could never bear Arthur any children, who would become king after him. However, it turns out that Morgaine is pregnant, and her child would be first in succession for the crown, ruining Morgause's plans for Gawain. Eventually Morgaine gives birth to Mordred, and Morgause comes up with a new scheme to train him to love and obey her. Morgaine is furious at Viviane for the thing I'm not spoiling, and renounces the Goddess. She decides to stay with Morgause. (I may be saying some of these things out of order.)

Night Two
A ton of stuff happens that I don't want to get into. I'll just say that Mordred grows up and makes trouble in Camelot, while the Saxons stage a massive invasion. You want to know any more, read Wikipedia.

Anyway, I thought the miniseries as a whole was decent, reasonably interesting, but not something I really care very much about. Still, I think I'll hold onto the DVD for now.

miniseries index