They had a great lead actor -- all moptop and endearing emo eyes -- a wonderful cast, with Richard Wilson and Anthony Head; spectacular scenery in Wales and France and a proper castle; they'd clearly spent the money on the CGI dragon...
So why did they buy the script for Merlin for £3.50 and a box of washers from the scriptwriting equivalent of Aldi? If they paid any more than that they got ripped off. I'd rather watch the robotic Dannii Minogue and that malignant little badger scrotum Louis Walsh on The X-Factor.
I should've known we were in ahistorical Eurobilge hell from the moment the 'created by' card flashed up on the screen and there were four names, all of them Julian.
[Oh all right, only one of them was called Julian but trust me, any Julian is a bad sign. As is a Jonny. (Or a Miles, a Piers or a Tristan, much as it plagues me even to make reference to the odious AA Gill.) Unless you're lucky, it means that mummy's little talent-free darling landed a job in telly, through front, boundless confidence and an entitlement complex you could see from space -- plus the money that mummy and daddy probably fronted to live on so they could be a runner on knack all wages for a year. For this is how one begins one's long career of crawling up the arses of whoever was next up the ladder in the telly hierarchy, like those mediaeval dishes with a wren stuffed inside a quail, stuffed inside a goose, stuffed inside a sheep. It clearly doesn't have anything to do with talented writing.]
So anyway, Anthony Head is the evol Uther Pendragon, who has banned naughty, naughty magicks from his kingdom. Arthur is his horrible Lex-Luthor-only-thick snotrag of a son, played by an actor who looks like the public school version of Justin Hawkins from The Darkness. Merlin is a village boy who can do magic just by widening his eyes a wee bit. Richard Wilson is his crusty old protector, yadda yadda yadda yadda. You could write this script by numbers.
I mean, come on, that was utter bobbins. Could they not open a history book? Or a piece of literature to do with Arthur? You can honestly say that Robin of Sherwood reinvented the legends of Robin Hood by taking elements of folk magic and of historical fact about the oppression of the Saxon peasantry. You might think it did it badly, but it tried to be relevant to the legends and the 80s. This wasn't a reinvention. That would imply there was some invention there in the first place.
It's as if they said "let us liberate ourselves from the shackles of previous versions by cunning dint of knowing *fuck all* about Arthurian legend, except what we once read on a card from the Arthurian legends series in PG Tips tea packets".
It was all about magic and was not the least bit magical. There are pubes on the soap in public restrooms that have more magic in them than that script.
No, wait. There was one bit of magic. They made Eve Myles look square-faced and a bit porcine. Eve Myles! Who is gorgeous!
I shake my head at you, Julian. I shake my head at you, Jonny. I shake my head at you, Julie Gardner.
What. A Load. Of Wank.
Should've gone to the theatre like I planned. Next week I shall be watching Arsenal. I hate Arsenal less than I hated this. Which is saying something.