Monday, June 22, 2009

"The name is *Mer-lin.* And I happen to be the world's most powerful wizard! "

Summer television premieres continued last night with NBC broadcasting a BBC import, Merlin. I assume you all are capable of figuring out the basic plot (come on, it's called Merlin people), but think of it as the CW's Smallville meets BBC's Robin Hood.

In the same vein as the recent Star Trek reboot, Merlin, Arthur, and the whole gang have been youngified to appeal to a younger demographic and hijinks predictably result. The show's basic concept is simple: Merlin is a rare person born with innate magical ability (most people have to study and use incantations to make magic, but Merlin can it) who has come to Camelot to study with King Pendragon's and the court's physician. While there he instantly takes a dislike to the King's son, Arthur, a toothy pretty boy bully, but is told by a talking dragon that it is his destiny to protect and guide Arthur so he can become a great King.

Other characters from the Arthurian legends making an appearance are Lady Morgana, a young ward of the King who is a seer and not evil (yet), and "Gwen," Morgana's maid who is also her best friend. She takes a liking to Merlin, and really, who wouldn't, since he is all big-eared, floppy-haired adorkableness.

The show is well-acted, has great production values, and seems so far to be a quintessential summer program: easy on both the eyes and the brain.

It's always nice to see Anthony Head from Buffy, who plays King Pendragon, and some other familiar faces pop up as well. Torchwood fans will recognize Eve Myles as an evil sorceress, and John Hurt (Mr. Ollivander in Harry Potter) provides the voice of the dragon. Word on the street (and by street I mean wiki) is that Michelle Ryan from the defunct Bionic Woman will play this season's big bad.

While the plot seems to deviate pretty sharply from established Arthurian canon, it's fun, doesn't take itself too seriously, and has pretty costumes and people. I wouldn't suggest viewing it to see what life in a medieval court was really like (I'm pretty certain they didn't have teeth-whitening capabilities), but if you like action-adventure and fantasy shows this is right up your ally.

Old Merlin... young Merlin.


Monkey Sri said...


Ahem. I mean, thanks for the rec - I will definitely check it out :)

Maggie Cats said...

And apparently there is homoerotic tension between Merlin and Arthur...and I'll leave it at that.

Monkey Sri said...