Merlin: Less Robin Hood More Doctor Who…. Hoorah!

Merlin, the new Saturday Night BBC ‘Doctor Who’ slot big budget family friendly fun drama began tonight and I unlike everyone else I met was excited, thankfully I was not dissappointed

Commissioned and Produced by the mavericks that brought back the sometimes mentioned around these parts Doctor Who, Merlin is a new look at a very old tale. They’ve taken a leaf out of the early series of Smallville and gone back to the beginning of the legend… well a retake on the legend… well a completely made up version with some of the same characters!

We’re introduced to Merin a geeky, sarcastic teenager (Colin Morgan) who’s been sent to Camelot by his mum as the boy has a gift, a magic gift. One not too welcome in her village, if only she knew how unwelcome it was in Camelot as in the first few minutes we’re witness to a very graphic (well audible) beheadding of a wizard!

The story zips along and we really engage with Merlin and his ‘Jedi Master’ Gaius, played wonderfully by Richard Wilson. There are many strands of story but none of them are as important as the character developing plot.

The dialogue is akin to a Buffy episode set in the past and the way that the principle cast is played is lovely, like ‘As If‘ meets ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’. This, I feel, is where Robin Hood got it wrong. It became all serious, Merlin is lovely and light hearted it’s exciting and makes you want to be a wizard!

The show looks expensive and beautiful, there has been much care and attention put into all of the technical details, something I feel was very much influenced by Doctor Who. This makes the show believable and even Merlin’s medieval Bomber Jacket is better than Hood’s, well, hoodie.

The priniciple storyline was about the beheadded wizard’s mum (always lovely to see Gwen Cooper!) plotting revenge to kill Uther’s Son Arther but this was purely a maguffin to allow Merlin to save Arthur’s life and become his manservant.

This show is brilliant and made me love it, it’s always going to be compared to Doctor Who and I think it stands up, the cast are very good and Merlin and Arthur’s chemistry will be fantastic to watch unfold. The effects, story and production values are on a par with Who and it is different enough to carve its own niche (cough, hear that Primeval).

They’ve been very clever to nulify any association with Harry Potter and even the parselltongue style speech from the John Hurt voiced dragon didn’t call back to the big P. Some of the effects looked a little off (just a couple, the Puddle shot and the Mirror once), but as ever we’re comparing them with film budget or US budget programs but they pull off something that most of those we compare them with can’t - story. This is something that kids can get hold of and play, I know I’d have killed to be Merlin in the playground even if it meant that Arther would order me about (maybe that says something about me)

well now I’m rambling but needless to say I enjoyed it and if you missed it catch up HERE.

What did you think, was the Dragon ‘ropey’, too much ‘Potter’ not enough ‘lady of the lake’ ? let me know!