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Simon F
October 3rd, 2008, 03:10 PM
Anyone wayching the new Merlin series on BBC 1 - good fun so far........

October 4th, 2008, 06:11 AM
I've been watching it!
I agree it's been quite good. It's a little confusing as Arthur's dad is king, but I thought the story was that Arthur was a normal boy, not a prince, and the fact that he fancies that Morgana and Guinevere's is Morgana's maid. Apart from that, it's quite enjoyable.

October 4th, 2008, 06:25 AM
Views are a bit divided in the Hobbit household: the youngest thinks it's great, the older of us (ie: me) feels that the TH White version, not to mention Rosemary Sutcliffe or Bernard Cornwell book versions, are better.

It is undemanding entertainment with a lot of lazy dialogue and two dimensional characterisation.

Personally I think it would've worked better if they hadn't called it Merlin and dared to claim it was a new Fantasy. That would've meant that it would've had the freedom to blaze its own trail, without being restricted by the trappings of the Arthurian legend told many many many times before.

Mark / Hobbit

October 5th, 2008, 05:20 AM
I was excited about the series from the start. I knew it would be Young Adult given the timeslot, a family show and all that. I thought episode 1 was promising, however...

Disappointing, boring episode last night. Ep 2 was better, somewhat. I'm not feeling the love for this series sofar. Enormous logical leaps are being taken, things are decidely not being taken to a logical conclusion, the decisions being made by Uther are downright childish and beyond any form of reason. I understand they are trying to play off young Arthur as a better alternative for an overly harsh Uther, but still, he shouldn't be this dumb. Other than that, everything is so small, there are no people in Camelot, things take place in just a few places, things always happen to that small group of characters, it has a very low budget feel to it despite the shiny glimmering of the setting. It feels......cramped.

And next week he's going to be poisoned. Snore. Time for him to start using some of his powers I think, as that is main the appeal of the series. I'm disappointed by the Gaius character as well. He's supposed to be a mentor to Merlin but his main purpose sofar is to tell him not do any magic at all for fear of discovery and caution him continiously. For 3 episodes in a row. But the logical leap is of course that it was him of all people who gave him the Book of Magic Spells.

Seriously, I cannot wait for the show to grow out of it's kid's clothes and have Merlin actually do something and face some interesting enemies and dilemma's. The scene in yesterday's ep where he is in Uther's throne room and announces himself as a sorcerer and he is not believed. Why not show some magic to prove it? It's easy for him after all.

The show's potential feels very underused sofar.

Simon F
October 6th, 2008, 07:44 AM
points taken and they are definately fair - i think i like it due to quite low expectations + the fact that it doesn't follow the normal chain of events in Arthur/Merlins story so interested in how it will progress - no idea how they are going to get together Arthur and (don't want to spoil) and his usual love interest together....

October 6th, 2008, 09:59 AM
I've only managed to get around to watching the first episode, but I was a little disappointed with it.

Unlike many of the reviews I’ve read, I’m not bothered about how they writers have changed the traditional Arthur/Merlin story – after all it is a myth.

I don’t mind the casting (although a few more beards wouldn’t have gone a miss), I don’t mind the set design/location shooting (could be a little dirtier, but then again it is Camelot) and I don’t mind the level of CGI (the witches curse scene was good, dragon not so good).

I don't like Merlin's magic, which franky doesn't seem to be magic and more telekinesis.

It is just another example, much like Robin Hood and even to an extent Doctor Who, of the BBC trying to play to the widest possible audience. That is fair enough – a program has to be a success domestically and with the opportunity for international sales – however, it leaves the show feeling a little lacklustre. Harry Potter and His Dark Materials are surely examples of how writing can be aimed at children, but appeal to adults. Merlin feels like a big budget CBBC show rather than prime time BBC family entertainment.

It is also a disappointed to see the Arthur story poorly portrayed again. Surely such a great story has masses of potential, not even in a historically accurate contents – a pure fantasy version would be most welcomed, but something with a bit of bite to it. There isn’t really a truly decent screen version of the Arthur story. On the same vibe, I would like to see a serial TV series of the same calibre as the big budget US stuff that is set in a fantasy world. We’ve The Seeker series starting next month which looks like it has potential based on the trailer and Star Wars in a couple of years… so maybe.

October 20th, 2008, 10:44 AM
This week’s episode was entitled Lancelot and is only the second full episode I’ve watched – the first since episode one.

I quite enjoyed it. The show is frustratingly starting to show glimmers of quality – frustrating because it is still bogged down by trying to hard to be family friendly and appealing to international sales.

The Arthur character is really growing, disagreeing with how his father rules, but struggling as he still has to obey. Merlin is finally doing some mildly interesting magic and the angle with the Lancelot character was interesting (if not done before).

It made me want to tune in next week (be it on a lazy Sunday afternoon for the repeat). It is worth nothing that I came straight to the show after watching Richard Donner’s very poor Timeline on Film4.

It is all most like the BBC are following the US TV format from about 10 years ago – hour long (it will be when sold internationally), episodic, stand alone stories with a two episode finale (which doesn’t end in a cliff hanger). This was done with Doctor Who to make is more saleable in an international market – the forty minute running time works well for commercial television, stand alone episodes means views can pop in and out of the series and it can be shown out of continuity.

They seem to have failed to notice that US TV doesn’t really follow this format anymore – shows like Heroes and Lost have multi-branching story lines that span over episodes and seasons. Other more traditional shows like Supernatural or Sarah Connor Chronicles have “stand alone stories”, but also mix in story arc episodes that add meat to the bones of the show. The “issue of the week” style of writing has quickly go out of fashion for drama and even some comedy shows. The BBC are behind.

October 29th, 2008, 12:11 PM
I didn't exactly jump for joy when I heard the BBC was re-re-re-re-re-doing the Merlin/King Arthur story (didn't help that it was at the end of the last Doctor Who episode!). Then again, I wasn't too enthusiastic about the new Robin Hood, the first series of which is now one of the few DVDs in my collection.

It isn't particularly amazing or wonderful, but it's fun! I find enough good bits to make it worthwhile watching. At first I wasn't too sure about the big change-arounds of the story but now I'm enjoying it being different. Yes there is a bit of Harry Potter-ness in there, but I guess that's what a lot of folks like right now.

My favourite Arthur story is Stephen Lawhead's which is more historically based (as far as a King Arthur story can be) - Merlin is a lot lighter, more fantasy-ish, and not afraid to make fun of itself a little...

Arthur: [upon hearing 'Lancelot', as though can't quite believe has such a daft name] "Lance-a lot?"

November 23rd, 2008, 12:38 PM
Wow. Terrible episode last night. Modern sensibilities applied to a medieval setting, with a softie Arthur and a feminist girlpower Morgana. Embarrasingly bad.

November 23rd, 2008, 12:58 PM
I actually quite liked last nights. Wasn't the best, but wasn't completely awful either. The fighting could have been better though!