NBC’s Merlin Has Potential But Not Quite There Yet
Wild Bluff Media » TV » NBC’s Merlin Has Potential But Not Quite There Yet

Merlin the new NBC series premiered last night. This latest version of takes an interesting twist on the story of Merlin and Arthur as teenagers in Camelot. In this series Uther Pendragon (Arthur’s father rules Camelot) and has banished all magic from the Kingdom. Arthur is already heir apparent, and a spoiled ass (to use the term from the show). Morgan le Fey is Uther’s ward instead of Arthur’s evil illegitimate half-sister. Guenevere is Morgan’s maid. Merlin is of all things Arthur’s man servant. Interesting, but definitely a far cry from the traditional story of King Arthur (more on this later).

If you read my previous post about Merlin you’ll know I had some misgivings about this show. Now that I’ve seen it, not all of them were unfounded. I was surprised to find that I liked the twist on the story that this show takes. I think that the story arc they are setting up has some great potential. The acting and special effects were surprisingly good with one exception. Anthony Head (aka, Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who is the one famous, veteran actor in the cast gave a very weak performance. He just can’t pull off the sinister King role. The anger, the authority, and the honeyed words you can tell were intended by the script just didn’t seem to come naturally to him. As for the script, this is unfortunately the weakest part of the show. Good acting, good special effects, decent scenery and costumes, but the plot and dialog of the individual episodes leaves a bit to be desired. More than anything else, if Merlin hopes to succeed on a major network, it needs better writing.

The plot and the dialog of the two episodes which aired last night was trite and obvious at best. To some extent the characters even failed to meet the minimum standards for stereotypical characters they were. If you are a fan of SciFi/Fantasy TV Merlin is no BattleStar Galactica or Farscape (these are the two shows in this genre which in my mind have set the gold standard). They were definitely more with the hack writing quality of the early Xena/Hercules episodes. Hercules and Xena never appeared on a major network. I hate to say it but I think even I could have done better and as you can see by this post I’m not the greatest writer in the world.

So, what the bottom line? Despite my complaints about the scripts, I’m going to give this show a chance. It has potential and what looks to be a decent story arc. I also liked watching Xena and Hercules so as long as I keep my expectations low it should be OK. My fear is that this lower standard will not be sufficient to garner enough rating to keep the show on a major network. Plus my son liked it. So we will probably watch it together. Stay tuned, I’ll probably post again about Merlin after a few more episodes. My recommendation is watch if you get a chance or DVR it but I wouldn’t make this an appointment show yet.

Written by: Walt
Posted on: Monday, June 22, 2009

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