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This is uncut, in the name of public service broadcasting. My public service to you, so you don't waste your time on this broadcast. Or download. Or whatever.

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.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 20th, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
The dedication to Russell T Davies had chutzpah; like Robin Hood, this has little idea of why Doctor Who works.
Sep. 20th, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
Yes, I just read your review and you're absolutely right. It's the cluelessness that stings.
Sep. 20th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
So you're saying that it manages to be WORSE than Robin Hood?

Jesus, that's scary.
Sep. 20th, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, much worse. Robin Hood I didn't much care for, but it had chutzpah and a notion of what it wanted to do with its time. This was just... fairly terrible. I don't want it to die a death because scheduled drama should always win against reality show shite like The X-Factor: that should be an immutable law. But if I were the target audience for this, I would've switched over *so* fast.
Sep. 20th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
It burned.
Sep. 20th, 2008 08:51 pm (UTC)
It burned *and* sucked! It's like it's defying the laws of dramatic physics!
Sep. 20th, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
I didn't remember about it in time to watch, but I did read the synopsis. I'm afraid that was enough to make me wonder if I should watch the first episode during tomorrow's repeat so that I can roll my eyes at it from a position of knowledge. Having read your review, that thought has now been modified to using it as an excuse not to scrape wallpaper off the kitchen walls and to only watch it in a teeny-tiny Windows Media Centre window while smurfing the internet on the side.

And then I shall probably do the equivalent of what I did after watching the first episode of Robin Hood (where I ran straight to my Robin of Sherwood DVDs). I shall clutch my Mary Stewart to my heart and try to obliterate feeble imitations. If it's really, really bad I might have to dig out T H White, Thomas Malory and Geoffrey of Monmouth as well.
Sep. 20th, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC)
Honestly, it's worth watching if you enjoy getting a good hate on for something. But don't go looking for anything relevant to either the legends you love or today. There are *so* many ways they could have made it hugely entertaining and explored issues that are still extant in this world, and they missed every last one of them.
Sep. 20th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm sure it'll be all about getting a good hate on for it. I did my dissertation on Arthurian legend, and while that was a good few years ago now, it means that I do still remember more than a postage stamp's worth of what literature and pseudo-history they could have used as a starting point.
Sep. 20th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
Oh. Okay. You'll HATE it *g*
Sep. 20th, 2008 09:04 pm (UTC)

Note that I'm waiting for the repeat rather than heading off to iPlayer. It doesn't sound like it's worth the bandwidth to stream it, so I may as well give my ISP a break.
Sep. 20th, 2008 10:35 pm (UTC)
If it's really, really bad I might have to dig out T H White, Thomas Malory and Geoffrey of Monmouth as well.

I usually go for Rosemary Sutcliff, myself. *g*
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 20th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
Richard Wilson is quite the best thing in it. It's worth watching if you like getting a good head of indignation up (as you can probably tell, I quite enjoy really disliking something, but only when I am not bored by it -- and I was bored quite a lot by Merlin)

It's just that it's not smart enough and it's not relevant enough.

I'll DVR it and give it another go next week on the grounds that no show should be judged by pilot horrors, but my hopes are not high.
Sep. 20th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
You hate it more than Arsenal?!

...Yikes. I appreciate the PSA and will take the "not worth downloading" to heart. Thanks for the heads up! XD
Sep. 21st, 2008 12:42 am (UTC)
Didn't watch it, because I knew from reading the Radio Times that I would abso-fucking-lutely hate it. Looks like I spared myself some yelling at the telly.
Sep. 21st, 2008 07:53 am (UTC)
well bugger.

And I was so looking forward to this.

I hate when they muck up perfectly wonderful legends.
Sep. 21st, 2008 12:22 pm (UTC)
I am sad to hear this because, well, Tony Head. I could watch him read the phone book. Julian, Jonny and Julie should be thoroughly spanked for making him look bad.
Sep. 22nd, 2008 09:00 am (UTC)
I'll always forgive Julie, I <3 her forever, but Julian and Jonny deserve a vigorous wallop on the jolly old bot-bot for squandering the licence fee on this dopey, meretricious tripe.
Sep. 22nd, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
ACK. This sounds hideous.

Why won't they just make Bernard Cornwell's Arthur Series and be done with it? Those would be SO AWESOME!

Look, it's a real Dark Ages battle, with a couple hundred guys vs. the hoarde of a thousand guys!!! And people are mostly using sticks with pointy bits on the end, because they can't afford real weapons! But there's actual strategy to that. And....

This sounds so awful.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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