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BBC's "Merlin" co-starring Anthony Head

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  • BBC's "Merlin" co-starring Anthony Head

    Described to me as "perfect Saturday evening fare", there to attract the Doctor Who audience - a cross between Harry Potter and Robin Hood with Anthony Head and Richard "I Dont Believe It" Wilson in it, sounds good so far.

    So three episodes in and I quite like what I'm seeing so far. For some reason it always takes me longer to get into British shows than US ones (which is strange really being British), so I guess that's a good thing I'm enjoying it so early on.

    Anthony Head playing King Uthar Pendragon (a sorta-baddy) is different and he does it very well. Richard Wilson's Gaius is very sweet (also a bit of a change for him), but I'm not really sure about the eponymous hero played by Colin Morgan. He seems a little too foolish to be playing a character of such folklore, but I guess that's what the writers are going for - the boy before he finds his destiny. I do really like Prince Arthur though - the right balance between arrogance and naivety, charm and cockiness

    The guest actors have been pretty good so far too - Eve Miles in the first episode was ok for her, Will Mellor (I love him!) as a bad knight and now Michelle Ryan in a recurring role of a sorcerer with a history with the king.

    I'm leaving it for a couple of more episodes before I say that I love it though.

    Anyone else been watching? What are your thoughts on the BBC's next attempt to emulate the success of Doctor Who?
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    Peter Capaldi is the 12th Doctor

  • #2
    I like it enough to sit in front of the tv every saturday.

    I was suprised by the age of the characters and their position. Arthur, Merlin, Morgana and Gwen who have the same age, Gwen and Merling being servants while Arthur is already born to be king. I'm not sure what the actual legend is because every story I did see/read was different, is this the real story or just a choice made by the BBC?

    ennieweeyz,

    I like the stories so far and the actors are doing a fine job. I'm afraid that it won't come near DW but it's better than BBC's Robin Hood. My favourite scene is when Eve Myles's character sang in the first episode.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Nina View Post
      is this the real story or just a choice made by the BBC?
      Eh, there is no 'real story' - any Arthurian legend you read or see is fiction. It might be 12th century fiction, but it's still fiction. King Arthur is legend and fantasy, not history, and that legend and fantasy has been retold with a new spin hundreds of times. And most of the characters popularly thought of as 'Arthurian' were added centuries after the first stories were written down.

      Basically, the BBC here have taken elements from various versions of the legend and spun them together to tell a new story. It's unsubtle and it's uncomplicated, but it's also charming and, basically, just a really fun romp. Typical BBC Saturday teatime fare, in fact

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      • #4
        okay, in my head there was some original Arthur story ... but that was clearly just my mind.


        Is the Merlin/Arthur HoYay on purpose? ... because there was way too much HoYay in the last episode. That was actually the only redeeming factor for this pretty boring episode (and the beautiful music of course).

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        • #5
          I quite like this show enough to have made me watch it for the last 3 or 4 weeks, however I missed the opener.

          Anyway, it's a fairly decent story, although I was under the impression that Arthur was supposed to be younger than Merlin by a whole lot and that he wasn't supposed to have a clue about his regal heritage, also that Merlin was supposed to be his teacher, however that could just be the Disney version I'm getting mixed up with. That and after playing Tomb Raider: Legend which has some Arthurian references saying that Merlin helped Arthur rise from obscurity.

          I quite like the actual character of Merlin, to me the whole show has a Sabrina feel to it with him having to hide his magical abilities, however some people know and some people are going to find out. I also quite like the character of Arthur, although any scene where he and Merlin are together gives me a gay-vibe for some reason, like forbidden love, I expect there to be fanfic. Also quite liking Gwen and the Sorceress.

          I'm neutral about King Uther and Gaius, but I'm really not liking Morgana, the actress seems to have developed some Keira Knightley traits, I'm not sure if it's because she looks kind of like her, but she seems to take every opportunity to pout and it's really irritating, I'm sure she as a character will develop, but it's just that thing that is a bit faux-pas-y to me.

          I'll be watching next week.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Nina View Post
            okay, in my head there was some original Arthur story ... but that was clearly just my mind.
            Well, if you're looking for an original, read Geoffrey of Monmouth - I believe his is the first version of the story. You'll find it very, very different than popular expectations of Arthurian tales, though! Like I said, most of the more common elements were added centuries later, according to the fashion of the age.
            Originally posted by Matt View Post
            Anyway, it's a fairly decent story, although I was under the impression that Arthur was supposed to be younger than Merlin by a whole lot and that he wasn't supposed to have a clue about his regal heritage, also that Merlin was supposed to be his teacher, however that could just be the Disney version I'm getting mixed up with.
            See above - the Arthurian legends are vast and varied, and there is no 'right' or 'wrong' version. It is better to put any expectations out of your mind and accept that what you are watching is sheer fantasy

            I haven't seen the latest episode yet - how was it? I've heard mixed reviews.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Matt View Post
              I was under the impression that Arthur was supposed to be younger than Merlin by a whole lot and that he wasn't supposed to have a clue about his regal heritage, also that Merlin was supposed to be his teacher
              That's exactly what I thought too! In fact I thought Merlin was a very old man when Arthur and Merlin meet for the first time. Surely, Excaliber has to make it's entrance at some point (bearing in mind that it's included in the credits), and how is an unknown boy going to pull that out of the stone to prove he should be king if he's a. not unknown and b. already a prince?

              Originally posted by Matt View Post
              I also quite like the character of Arthur, although any scene where he and Merlin are together gives me a gay-vibe for some reason, like forbidden love, I expect there to be fanfic.
              I'm pretty sure this isn't intentional, just a side-effect of having two boys/men who care for each other. I've picked up on it too, but I don't expect that it will come to anything (being a Saturday early evening show and all)

              Originally posted by Matt View Post
              I'm really not liking Morgana, the actress seems to have developed some Keira Knightley traits, I'm not sure if it's because she looks kind of like her, but she seems to take every opportunity to pout and it's really irritating,
              Yes she does look like her a lot, and I find that a bit irritating too. I can't quite grasp the reason she's even in the story. She is the king's ward and stands up to him, guides Arthur into defying his father (quite correctly generally) and I guess there's suppose to be some love/hate relationship with Arthur but it's not translating at all. Her character is just not very interesting.

              Guinevere is supposed to end up with Arthur isn't she? So why do they seem to be matching her with Merlin, unless there's an intention to set up a rift between Merlin and Arthur later on in the season?

              I haven't made my mind up about Michelle Ryan's Nimueh. IDK if it's those very bright coloured contact lens they've given her that's putting me off or whether it's her acting skills but she's just not menacing at all. Mind you, she hasn't been given a lot to do other than scowl and whish her fingers around in a font. For a recurring villain I was hoping for something a bit stronger.

              I'm still not very keen on Merlin's character. This week all he had to do was lie on a bed and moan, and that seemed overplayed, as did the saving Arthur whilst unconscious. ASH and Richard Wilson still delight, as does Bradley James as Arthur. The series may have been named after Merlin, but it's definitely all about Arthur as far as I'm concerned.
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              Peter Capaldi is the 12th Doctor

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              • #8
                Well if there's two things I'm a sucker for, it's Arthurian legend and Anthony Stewart Head (sorry, it just doesn't sound right to me without the middle name! Though even so when I saw his vanity title at the end in the credits I squeed--it was like old times! ), so naturally I HAD to check this show out when I saw the thread about it here--especially to see ASH play Uther! So I watched the first epp last night, and have mixed feelings--it wasn't the most exciting thing in the world, and definitely had its cheesy parts (esp. in the FX department), and was very weird in its interpretation of Arthurian legend, as people have pointed out. Yet at the same time it was interesting enough to make me want to keep watching--maybe because they've messed up the legend so much I keep wanting to see what they will and will not include, and how they'll do things!

                Originally posted by Nina View Post
                I like it enough to sit in front of the tv every saturday.

                I was suprised by the age of the characters and their position. Arthur, Merlin, Morgana and Gwen who have the same age, Gwen and Merling being servants while Arthur is already born to be king. I'm not sure what the actual legend is because every story I did see/read was different, is this the real story or just a choice made by the BBC?
                While Llywela is correct in that there isn't really a "real" story, and that there are tons of different versions out there, in general there are certain elements that remain the same across the board, which this show violates--for example Merlin is ALWAYS older than Arthur--hell in the legend he helps Uther Pendragon conceive Arthur in the first place by aiding him in deceiving the Lady Igraine that he was her husband the Duke of Cornwall so that she would lay with him! This was in Geoffrey of Monmouth's version, if we are going to consider him the original:

                He incorporates Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon, his magician advisor Merlin, and the story of Arthur's conception, in which Uther, disguised as his enemy Gorlois by Merlin's magic, fathers Arthur on Gorlois's wife Igerna at Tintagel. On Uther's death, the fifteen-year-old Arthur succeeds him as King of Britain and fights a series of battles,
                So he was an aide to both Uther and Arthur (who is much younger when he becomes king than he already is on the show)--and Uther meanwhile doesn't have the name "Pendragon" for nothing--the dragon was his personal symbol, around which he rallied his supporters, so it's very strange that he's all, "let's kill all the dragons man! Except this one, which we'll imprison as an example!" in this show. Meanwhile Guienevere or Gwenhyfar is always the daughter of another king (Britain had lots of kings, but Uther and then Arthur were the "high" kings above the others) who married Arthur, never a servant, especially of Morgana/Morgaine/Morgan le Fay! And Arthur often does spend some time fostered somewhere else, rather than being raised the whole time by Uther.

                Also Morgana/Morgaine/Morgan le Fay is always Arthur's sister in some capacity--whether full or half. Which makes me wonder about what they'll do here, with all this "ward" stuff--since Arthur's mother is dead from the beginning, it's entirely possible that Morgana is also her daughter from her previous marriage, and that when she died she made Uther promise to look after her as well, and so he is, but concealing her identity as Arthur's sister--only for this to come back to haunt them all later when Arthur and Morgana sleep together (if they decide to go that route in the story--which seems possible given her marked romantic interest in Arthur in the first episode--and in some versions either she or her sister Morgause sleep with Arthur--but as they didn't seem to include a Morgause here.....). But if this whole story is going to only take place before he becomes king maybe not.....in any case, that's one reason why I want to keep watching--I want to see what happens with Morgana's character, since she's generally one of my faves in the legend (though it seems from the comments here that she might not be worth it). Matt's comment about her having a "Keira Knightley"-like pout in particular cracks me up, because I can already see it--though I personally think she's prettier than Keira Knightley!

                I also wonder what the deal is with Gwen/Merlin, considering, as people pointed out here, that she ends up with Arthur, and it's Nimue and Merlin......

                For more information, there's a good Wikipedia article on the legend here, and another really helpful on Arthurian characters and in which versions they appear here.

                Originally posted by Matt View Post
                I quite like the actual character of Merlin, to me the whole show has a Sabrina feel to it with him having to hide his magical abilities, however some people know and some people are going to find out.
                ROFL I never thought about it that way, but you're totally right! Especially since the FX and way they show his magic is rather Sabrina-y as well--which is fine by me, I loved that show, so that'd be another reason to watch!

                Oh, and I love Gauis already, I think he's my fave character.....and the clearly gothic architecture amuses me--I guess they're setting it in the medieval period of the Arthurian romances, or just lazy.... In any case, I'll keep watching, to see what happens next....despite it's weird aspects, overall I think it's neat how they're twisting/re-interpreting the idea of Merlin shaping and guiding Arthur and protecting him and making him into a great king!
                Last edited by sherrilina; 14-10-08, 08:04 PM.
                Promise that you'll return to me.

                icon by sireesanswar

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                • #9
                  Well Llywela should be happy that in this epp they pronounced the gaelic word correctly-"sidhe" in this case--unlike in this week's SN epp!

                  Wow, what an episode! IMO this is without a doubt the best episode so far, by a longshot. The storyline was interesting and cool with villains who were at least somewhat sympathetic (well I guess that was kind of true of Edwin last week too), there was an excellent mix of drama and humor-I think this epp had the most hilarious zingers, very well written!, and all the characters (who weren't being enchanted that is like Arthur) were quite loveable, even Uther for once! (Which makes me happy, since disliking Anthony Stewart Head is against my programming?.Giles!). And best of all it's Morgana-centric-my girl actually had something to do for once, and we got to learn more about her, and she's fitting the legend now, having visions like Morgaine from MoA! xD So yeah, I definitely enjoyed myself this week!

                  My reactions/commentary in more detail below:
                  Spoiler:
                  Woohoo, a Morgana-centric epp at last! And yay, we finally have confirmation that she has the sight! About time we learn more about her?

                  Lol at Merlin implying Arthur has no intelligence! (And I'm excited at the title "The Gates of Avalon"-about time Avalon has come up as well! Though I'm a little nervous given how much they've been changing things?)

                  Aw, that's the girl from the vision! Of course?

                  "My intentions are completely honorable?.put her in the room across the castle" ROFL!

                  "She can't stay here...." Alright, Morgana!action, this is awesome, and she looks gorgeous as always?*heart*

                  "My bench is on fire!" Lol?.love you Gauis!

                  "these are just dreams?" um no they aren't, they're totally visions of the future! She's got the Sight?

                  Wow, I love the way her hair is splayed out as she sleeps right here?

                  "My brain stops working."
                  "Oh, no change there then!" Ahahaha I love the A/M banter!

                  Alright, they're officially friends for life now I guess!

                  "He hates magic more than he cares for me." Angstangstangst, I love it! (So I guess Gwen is privy to Morgana's secret magical visions?) And yeah, you should stop her yourself! About time you did something significant in an epp?.

                  Lol at the exchange between Merlin and Uther-I actually like Uther here! xD

                  "I forgot how much fun this was!" Aw, Merlin is so cute!

                  Dude, she is NOTHING looks-wise to Morgana, why are you even bothering with this trollip Arthur?and yeah, "please take me to the river so I can drown you!"

                  Man these magical villains sure have a bad habit of leaving their magical, incriminating artifacts behind in their rooms unattended for the heroes to have the chance to take a look at and get clues about the villains from?.and they always get to escape unscathed after the villain walks in to interrupt their investigation!

                  "Don't think you can make a fool out of me." You tell her Morgana! Bitch?

                  Ah, of course, let's make Avalon an ebil place full of ebil people like these folk?.*rolleyes*

                  Wait?.when they say "she," do they mean "sidhe"?! Ah it makes sense now, if I recall from "The Sevenwaters Trilogy" that is a name meaning "fairy", and the handy pronunciation guide in the second book said "sidhe" is pronounced "she!" Aw man, that makes me remember Sidhe Dubh now, home of my favorite villain Eamonn-oh Eamonn, I still love you even if you turned into a bitter, sick, twisted, vengeful, sadistic, sexually-harrassing psychopath-but at least you died a hero, against all odds! *is nostaligic*

                  Yeah I'm afraid you have always been rather obvious about your feelings Morgana?

                  "You're dressed!"
                  "Nothing gets past you, does it Merlin?" Man, the banter between these two has been especially good today!

                  "They were throwing potatoes! It's only supposed to be rotten fruit?"
                  "I don't think there are any hard and fast rules?"

                  "I think I'm getting the hang of this deception lark!" *cut to him in stocks again* Aww, poor Merlin-the lengths he'll go to for his lover/master?.

                  Oooh, Arthur's eyes turned red too! Oh-oh, where is Morgana?

                  "Surely Merlin not again?"
                  "You'd think the appeal of pelting the same person with fruit would wear off after a while, but oh no!" Hee!

                  That's right Gauis, Morgana is a seer! Gah, so nice for us to get more about her at last?.

                  OMG, did Merlin seriously just slow down time?! That's wild, even for him?..that's something that can come in useful in future?

                  Um Merlin, do you really think it's a good idea to let the bad guys know you followed them and are totally on to them? Aren't you a little concerned they might get you? You shouldn't really play your hand like that?.(though Morgana kind of did it earlier as well!)

                  Aw, that was actually kind of touching, the goodbye, even if she's about to kill Arthur?I can kind of see where they're coming from?

                  Go Merlin! (Hee, this reminds me a little of Ron saving Harry in DH, except Arhur isn't nekkid here?.unfortunately! )

                  ROFL this whole bedroom scene is hilarious, esp. Arthur's face with his eyes all bugged out!

                  "Can someone explain what happened? Someone with a brain?" Lol, poor Merlin, always underestimated!

                  "And killing things mends a broken heart?"
                  "No, but it's good fun" (The incredulous look on Morgana's face here was priceless!)

                  "Have you some kind of mental affliction?"
                  "Probably."
                  "I'm looking into it sire!" Gah, practically every line of this episode is hilarious, I love it!

                  "Food shortage?" *tomato!smash* lol?.poor Merlin never gets a break, does he?

                  Woot, another magic!secret-and oh man I hope she does have the Gift as well as the Sight, because that would be awesome! (And per the legend!). xD

                  Ah, a closing shot of her looking lovely again waking up to another horrible vision-poor Morgana! I hope they at least don't hurt like Cordy's did?.(now that I think about it, this is yet another "Warrior/Seer" ship I'm shipping, after A/C!).

                  5/5


                  And man does next week look good-I've of course been looking forward to it since I read the spoilers weeks ago, but the promo makes it look even better-I can't believe Uther actually grabs her throat!

                  So between this top-notch epp and what looks like another fantastic epp next week, I think that "Merlin" may finally be getting into its stride-which would be happy news indeed!
                  Promise that you'll return to me.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by sherrilina View Post
                    Well Llywela should be happy that in this epp they pronounced the gaelic word correctly-"sidhe" in this case--unlike in this week's SN epp!
                    I was indeed pleased. (Although, you know, one does tend to automatically expect words to be pronounced correctly, or at least attempted correctly, even when they are difficult ) And I really enjoyed their take on the sidhe, blending together various mythological elements creatively and impressively. Visually, they kinda reminded me of the fairies from S1 Torchwood - those alien creatures whose real name I forget. Similar special effects.

                    I'm really enjoying the layers of complexity being added to the character dynamics each week now - looking forward to finding out how the story will continue to unfold from here

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                    • #11
                      Hey I just watched a show about how arthur is based on a true story and merlin as well on the history channel and now to see this. Is this on in America? What channel is showing it if it is?

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                      • #12
                        i am really getting into Merlin. i love the BBC historical dramas. i loved Robin Hood as well. they do them to a rel good quality and always seemto have a good balance between weel established stars like Anthony head and newer starts like the actor who plays Merlin. i think they are really useful because although Merlin is Mythology it is part of british history, a big part that is'nt t aught in history class. so yeah i have really enjoyed learning some more about the myth or king arthur, although in a drama form.
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                        twinned with TheCharmed1

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                        • #13
                          I have been watching it religiously from day one and it has gotten progressively better.

                          I really enjoy this spin. While it is not accurate to the time period at all(the way they interact and treat each other) it is a good time.
                          ===Quote of the day===
                          "To read makes our speaking English good"

                          Xander

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                          • #14
                            btw there is a real story in witch the Autherian legands come from.

                            It is closer to the 6th century, and really far from what it has become; but it did not come from mid air as suggested.
                            ===Quote of the day===
                            "To read makes our speaking English good"

                            Xander

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