a while back i threatened to write more about yet another hit off the british-tv crackpipe, merlin, which i like to think of as camelot 90210. the first series is now over, and there'll be a second one of this HIGHLY revised and emo-fied tale of the legendary arthurian wizard, starring colin morgan (above) in the title role. he played jethro the goth teen rebel in last year's creepy doctor who ep "midnight" -- and recently it was announced that michelle ryan, who plays an evil sorceress in merlin, will be the doctor's companion for the next special, "planet of the dead" (not to be confused with "planet of the ood" or "forest of the dead").
aight, that covers the obligatory doctor who degrees of separation. so what happens is, teenage merlin's mom sends him from their small village to camelot b/c he's just so magical he can't even control his magic. and magic is totally forbidden in the kingdom ruled by uther pendragon, father of the soon-to-be-legendary arthur (blond hottie bradley james). so, court physician gaius (the awesome richard wilson) takes merlin in and vows to keep an eye out for any of that magic-makin' stuff. (he's uniquely qualified to do that, b/c he seems to be a recovering magician himself, plus he apparently helped uther put away some of the magical folk during the great purge or whatever ... .)
pretty soon merlin meets snotty-jock-with-a-heart-of-gold/king-to-be arthur, pictured below ... is he not adorable in his chainmail hoodie?
naturally, merlin becomes the future king's servant, whereupon royal high jinks and many visits to a cryptic and very cranky dragon ensue. but uther (anthony "giles from buffy" head) is dead serious about the no-magic thing: as in, anybody who uses magic (or even seems to) is put to death. nice guy, right? (acting must be so weird. tony head used to play a badass warlock, and now he plays a king who chops off badass warlocks' heads. oh, well, all in a day's work!)
the catchphrase for this show is "keep the magic secret," and boy do the characters go through some contortions to do that. seemingly every week, someone is laid low with a magical illness that merlin must cure w/o revealing he is a sorcerer. even in a world without cameraphones, that's not easy! also in the mix are morgana (katie mcgrath), who here is uther's ward and has prophetic dreams that practically make HER a sorcerer too (hence they're also kept ... you guessed it, secret), and guinevere (angel coulby), morgana's handmaiden (yes, she's a commoner; i don't get it, either). plus the aforementioned last dragon, chained up in the basement caves and voiced by john hurt. naturally, uther has a lot of witch/warlock enemies, one of whom is the aforementioned michelle ryan, the lush-lipped chick who played the new bionic woman (oh, yeah, and gwen from torchwood had a guest spot on it too ... and dr. bashir from deep space nine).
so, in only 13 episodes, they've abused a good chunk of the arthurian canon, including avalon, excalibur, mordred, and even sir lancelot. i confess i thoroughly enjoyed it, but it's definitely a cheesetastic trifle. merlin, however, is sheer television brilliance compared to the abomination that is demons.
i wanted to watch ITV's new supernatural drama b/c philip glenister is in it, but it's a total waste of him. i thought that i could watch it for amusement after the first ep, but it was tough to make it through the second, and i couldn't even face the third. sadly, glenister's accent is terrible, and the whole thing quickly proved to be not even campy entertainment but just clunky and bad, from the dialogue to the monsters to the drama. ugh. next!