- Cast and Crew introduction to
- Cast and Crew audio commentaries
- Behind the Scenes
- The Making of Merlin
- Photo Gallery
legend meets Smallville in this
revisionist take on the well-known myth of Camelot . . .
History buffs will have a fit. Camelot is curiously multi-ethnic in this
British TV series and there are a lot of standard fantasy tropes such as
dragons, trolls, wizards, etc. running about. Plus, the young cast has
impossibly good looks, not just by medieval standards, but by 21st century
standards as well. And everybody is so clean . . . (Incidentally, it is a
myth that people in the middle ages all had bad teeth, but the actors in
Merlin have good teeth even by today’s
sophisticated dentistry standards – the show often feels like a toothpaste
Fans however won’t care. The show remains compelling viewing for fantasy
fans despite some uninspired plotting and writing. The budget for special
effects have however been boosted and the myriad of CGI and old-style makeup
creatures are impressive for a show of this nature.
The story focus on the young magician Merlin, now working as a servant for
Prince Arthur who is yet to become king. (Uther, Arthur’s dad played by
Anthony Head - Giles from Buffy – is king of Camelot). Merlin helps maintain
the status quo even though Uther is a lousy king and a clear example of why
republicanism is preferable to the “lucky sperm” randomness of monarchism.
If you elect the idiots who rule you, it implies that you can get right of
them again, which isn’t the case with anyone who rules by “divine right.”
Along the way Merlin is helped by a captive dragon voiced by John Hurt (Alien),
who incidentally gets top billing even though his character doesn’t even
appear in some episodes. Like Clark Kent in
Smallville Merlin can never reveal
that he has magical powers since Uther has outlawed all magic in his
kingdom, punishable by death. Much of the episodes carry the general series
mythos outline forward by focusing on the blooming romance between Arthur
and Guinevere, who happens to be black and a maidservant in this version of
the tale (we said it wasn’t very historically accurate).
WORTH IT? There are better shows out there right now. We’d rather
catch an episode of Fringe or
Doctor Who any time of the day
instead, but Merlin’s potent mix of fantasy and teenage soap opera
drama makes it all compulsively watchable as long as you banish any memories
of Monty Python and the Holy Grail while watching it.
RECOMMENDATION: Fans won’t be disappointed and curious newbies should
start with the first season box set (natch).
NOTE: There is so much talk of “fulfilling your destiny” in Merlin
that anyone who believes in free will instead of predestination would want
to tear their hear out and rue the day that the
Star Wars movies began this trend of “destiny” talk in popular genre
entertainment . . .