Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Lovin'

I have a new love. And his name is Merlin.

The TV show "Merlin" that debuted last fall on the BBC is now being shown in the US on Sunday nights on NBC. The first two episodes were on this past Sunday, and I just caught them on Hulu. And I have to admit that I am kind of in love with this show right now. It's so good! I cannot wait until next Sunday when I can catch the next episode!



Now, let's keep this in perspective: It's summer so I'm positively starved for scripted programming, plus I'm always a total sucker for anything fantasy related, anyway. But from the two episodes I saw, I think the show is just totally adorable. The show is loosely (I repeat, loosely) based on Arthurian legend, centering around a young Merlin and his interactions with a young Prince Arthur (all these "young" characters seem to be about 20 years old). King Uther (played by Buffy's Anthony Head), a young Morgana, and a young "Gwen" are important supporting characters. As my brother puts it, the show is basically like someone took Arthurian legend and said "Hmmm... how can we update this to appeal to a teen audience?" (To be fair to me, I'll assume they said "a teen audience and the 18-24 demographic".) The basic plot so far: Merlin, a warlock with surprising innate magical abilities, comes to live in Camelot where King Uther's law decrees the practice of magic to be punishable by death. A dragon beneath the castle tells Merlin that it is his destiny to protect Arthur, who is destined to do all sorts of important stuff in the future as king. After saving Arthur's life, Merlin is given the honor of being his manservant. Morgana (who does not seem to have a blood relation with Arthur) has premonitions in her dreams. Gwen is her handmaiden. Both seem like smart, strong-willed women in spite of the misogynistic society (which would exclude any sympathetic characters like Merlin).

OK, so it may not be a totally great show. Some of the situations seem a bit contrived, and the dialogue isn't exactly perfect. But the characters are appealing--whether it's appealingly valiant or appealingly sweet or appealingly cocky. There's entertaining tension between characters. There's some endearing silliness. There are sword fights, magic, princess dresses, and a dragon. What's not to love?

I understand that the BBC show I really need to see is Doctor Who... I may get around to that eventually. But this is here now, there's not much of it (just one season), and it's fun. "Merlin" is like watermelon. Not much to it, but it's sweet and satisfying and goes down easy on a hot summer day.

10 comments:

Hezabelle said...

I watched the first episode on Sunday night. I wasn't too impressed. It had a very "Hercules" style, it was pretty cheesy and contrived.. but at the same time slightly entertaining? So bad it's good? hahaha.

But you should watch the BBC Robin Hood series if you like Merlin, it's practically exactly the same!

Eleni said...

Yes, a bit like Hercules--cheesy, but I like cheese :)

Yes, I've heard about that Robin Hood show. I'll have to check it out.

pinkjellybaby said...

It grows on you, it's a bit um 'twee'? Good to watch though....although the boy who plays Merlin really gets on my tits. Not such great acting...
Robin Hood is pretty much the same kind of thing...Primeval is the best if you can get hold of that!

Eleni said...

I'll confess that I had to look up "twee", but yes, I think the word fits.

I hadn't heard of Primeval, but that one looks cool, too. I'll add that to the list. So many shows, so little time!

Sebastian said...

I had a girlfriend called Watermelon...

...

If you're saying it's good, along with Hez (almost), I guess I have to go and download it.

Grr, damn you girls!

I heard much the same about Robin Hood actually... a few girls liked it, but most people didn't.

Wait, do both shows have cute guys and strong female parts?

Eleni said...

After only two episodes, I can't say that Morgana and Gwen are particularly strong because they haven't had much to do yet. The most important characters so far have been the boys (look at the picture--the four men are positioned more prominently than the girls). But yes, the boys are kind of cute.

I won't make any guarantees, but I really enjoyed it.

Sebastian said...

Ah c'mon, those are knowing, cheeky 'we're secretly in charge of everything' grins if I ever saw them!

pinkjellybaby said...

I like Robin Hood more for Robin and Gisbourne (HOT!) but the stories aren't as good as Merlin...

Primeval has much more going on in it.

Morgana gets better in Merlin and I think she's supposed to play a much bigger part as it goes on. Plus, she's pretty hot... (Mr Seb)

Eleni said...

I've heard about this Guy of Gisborne. Basically the only thing I know about the Robin Hood TV show is that Gisborne is hot.

Eye candy can be a fair substitution for story substance.

pinkjellybaby said...

Gisbourne is in fact hotter than Robin Hood...oh yes.