Saturday, 20 September 2008

That's magic!

The first episode of the BBC's new Saturday evening drama, Merlin, has just finished.

Judging by the costumes and the castle (actually Chateau Pierrefonds in France), Merlin would appear to be living in the middle ages. This being the case, it's interesting to note how modern the Albion of Uther Pendragon appears to be. Not only do they seem to have invented the sandwich a good few centuries before the gambling Earl of that name, but they also have access to rotten tomatoes (all the better to pelt Merlin with whilst he is in the stocks), a fruit that I believed had not actually been discovered until 1519 by the explorer Cortez in South America. Just shows how wrong one can be!

Initially, I thought they'd got it wrong when I noticed King Uther tucking into a strawberry, but I have since discovered that the Bishop of Ely was growing the things in the 1400s, and there are references to the Streowberige, Strea Berige, Streowberge, Streaw Berian Wisan, Streberi Lef and StrebereWyse dating back to Saxon times.

The whole thing is really nothing more than a bit of fun. It was nice to see Richard (One foot in the grave) Wilson playing the part of the court physician, Gaius. Watch how Merlin, using the power of his mind, moves a bed to break the fall (and thus save the life) of Gaius, who has just fallen from a balcony in his laboratory. As the bemused Gaius lifts himself off the life-saving truckle bed, I really wish we could have heard him exclaim, "I don't believe it!"


Stevyn Colgan said...

Chris - Fun it may be but I'm afraid I got put off watching it by the almost constant advertising. The whole thing had a kind of 'Hollywood without the budget' look to it and that CGI dragon ... eek.

However, it must be said that I'm not a fan of fantasy books or films and as soon as I see dragons or wizards I generally run a mile. So I am biased. But I have read good things about the first episode so maybe I'll give it a chance.

chris hale said...

Hi Stevyn.

When I say "fun", I mean it in my cynical, 30-years-before-the-mast kind of way. But it's worth watching for the sandwiches and tomatoes, and the crap dragon (not snapdragon, crap dragon!) It's as if the Beeb can't bring itself to produce anything remotely esoteric, or about which you have to do a bit of thinking. I hoped it would be something like Robin of Sherwood - all eerie music and puzzling dialogue. But you can't have everything. Watch it, and take the p*ss!

Janet said...

Nothing I'd seen on the previews gave me much incentive to watch. I think John felt the same way, as neither of us made a move for the "telly" when it was about to start.

By the way, I don't think my brain has been the same since I made the mistake of watching about 10 minutes of "Hole in the Wall" on the BBC early Saturday evening. That had to be one of the worst things I've EVER seen on TV - it almost made "My Family" mildly entertaining!

Getting off the soapbox now...


chris hale said...

I think one of the big problems with the BBC now is its constant need to advertise what's coming up in the future. Time was when you had a "link" announcer between progs who would just tell you what was on next, but now we get three or four minutes of the Beeb blowing its own trumpet. If (as I do) you have one of those Virgin TV boxes with an auto recorder, the relentless ads often mean that you miss the end of the programme you were recording.

I'm particularly irritated by the incessant ads for "Casualty".

And that's me jumping down off my soapbox now!

Janet said...

Will you indulge me for one more trip up to the top of my soapbox?

You mentioned the BBC's relentless advertising of their upcoming shows. I completely agree. But what really annoys me is when they advertise an upcoming programme via a so-called news item as a part of their 6pm news. I haven't even seen American network TV try that one yet! ;-)


chris hale said...

Oh, I've no doubt it'll happen in the US eventually!

What about sponsorship? Having TV programmes (particularly "soaps") sponsored by businesses is fairly new in the UK, but what if the ever innovative BBC decided that particular types of news could be sponsored by companies? Now there's a gap in the market and an opportunity for the Beeb to get some more dosh. "This severe weather warning is brought to you by Joe's Boarding-up Service". Or "The education crisis - brought to you by the Sure Pass College". Wait long enough; it'll happen.