A Unexpected Underdog – The Adventures of Merlin

Merlin - Poster from IMDB.com

Merlin – Poster from IMDB.com

The Adventures of Merlin (2008)

Creators: Julian Jones, Julian Murphy, Johnny Capps, Jake Michie
Stars: John Hurt, Colin Morgan and Bradley James

I wasn’t going to watch this show when it first started on TV but I ended up watching it, like everything I watch, because someone said I might like it and it had an Irish actor in it. So I started watching and then kept watching and haven’t stopped.

I was never very interested in magic, magicians, witches or anything like that as a kid and I totally missed the Harry Potter faze that most of my friend’s went through growing up. I was however a lover of the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Growing up I really enjoyed the Sword In The Stone and the tale of a poor young boy who was actually the King of Camelot, proven for his character more than his birth right. I love a good underdog story and so when I worked out that this was a King Arthur tale I was in.

Now from saying the above you would think that I would’ve been quite disappointed with the adaptation of Merlin, however the first episode really grabbed me because instead of Arthur being the underdog, it was Merlin. The character of Merlin and his noble cause of seeking to stand up for the rights of those who were undermined and disadvantaged was one that really appealed to me. The cheesy humour and character relationships didn’t hurt either.

Colin Morgan who plays Merlin is an outstanding young actor and his innocence, naivety, and compassion are abounding as Merlin. He brings a real earthiness and humility to the character which makes him a likable underdog. There is a fragility to his physique that makes him the perfect young wizard and also makes him believably strong in mind and heart. It is this heart of the character which is the core of this show. It is about how he struggles to help and protect those who cannot protect themselves and it is his battle with the arrogance of Prince Arthur (Bradley James) and his connection with him that helps create the conflict needed for the narrative.

The creators and writers of the show have really made the show develop and succeed through it’s twisting of the myth and although it holds the mythology well in it’s narrative there is also a lot more depth to it created by the conflict with the characters and the secrets of the past that come to light over the seasons. The playfulness of the the first season slowly becomes less prominent as the story continues and as more people turn evil, however it remains within the realm of “family entertainment” for the most part. The youthfulness of the lead actors and the growing up that they experience over the course of the show has made it appealing for both children and adults alike.

The latter seasons although a bit darker are also more interesting as the relationships between the characters develop. The rival of Morgana and Emerys (old version of Merlin, still played by Colin Morgan and is incredibly convincing as an old man, it’s actually a little concerning how well he acts this role, awe-inspiringly good acting) and the love between Arthur and Gwen start to give a new depth to the story.

The battle between good and evil continues and the wisdom to know the difference is something that drives the characters in this show as well as the idea of duty and responsibility which for our day and age is an interesting one to explore. We don’t have the same sense of duty as they did previously however this show deals with the subject in a balanced manner which shows both the ill and the blessing of fulfilling duty and destiny.

I really like this show for many reasons but mainly because of Colin Morgan’s superb acting in every episode. He is mesmerising on screen and brings Merlin to life in the best way possible. His compassion and strength as Merlin is gripping and his journey through the story is riveting.

This show isn’t for everyone, it is fantasy and can be a bit cheesy at points. It requires a bit of suspension of reality and you have to allow yourself to be taken back in time but if you can live with the fantastical nature of the show it is a beautiful show to watch.

From A Genius Comes A Genius – Sherlock

Sherlock - Poster from IMDB.com

Sherlock – Poster from IMDB.com

Sherlock (2010)

Creators:Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat
Stars:Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Una Stubbs

I have been in awe of Stephen Moffat’s writing for a while now. I loved Press Gang when I was growing up and still remember watching it with my parents. I belly-laughed until it hurt at Couplings when I discovered it and consumed it like there was no tomorrow. Then when I worked out that he was the one responsible for the episode “Blink” on Doctor Who I took my Moffat appreciation to a whole other level of obsession. There was something about the way he constructed a story, intertwined the characters, and provided a script that held secrets that I don’t think even he realised were in there that I still sit shocked to realise. The complexity of the arching narrative, the detail in the little moments between characters, and the genuine nature of the dialogue between his creations is what makes it compelling to watch.

When it was announced that Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss would be collaborating to bring Sherlock to the small screen I couldn’t wait to see what they produced. Both geniuses in their own right, their collaboration was always set to bring forth a truly delightful television experience. And they delivered with Sherlock.

I wonder how many people have read the original stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. I for one have and I have loved them for a while now. I’m a sucker for a good mystery and I loved the wackiness of Sherlock’s character in the books. To bring the character into the 21st Century though is a challenging task because of the traditional investigatory paths that the original Sherlock had and the advancement of technology nowadays. I would never have thought to make Sherlock tech-savvy and that is probably why Moffat and Gatiss are the geniuses and I am not.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson are brilliant characters brought to life by Moffat and Gatiss’ scripts and by the superb acting of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. The chemistry between the two men is inspiring and they explore a new angle of the relationship in a lot of ways. There is of course a lot of the original essence of the weird friendship there but it is a lot more complex and has a new depth that the original novels lack to convey. From the moment the two characters are introduced there is a spark of wonder that is the catalyst for the rest of the show. It is a moment that shows so much of what is to come in a simple minute of the film. The arrogance and charisma of Sherlock and the insecurity and rationality of John combine to drag you into these men’s journey together and which compels you to keep watching.

The show is slow moving and long for the most part but the quick speeches of Sherlock balance the investigating and experimental processes that are combined in his work. He reads rooms, people, scenes quickly but takes the time to make sure he sees the details as well. This makes the show roll on in a good pace and gives you time to take in what Sherlock has discovered in a quick minute of walking around a room. This pace allows the characters to develop and allows the relationships between the characters to be fleshed out more carefully. As the audience it is hard not to feel like you are taking the perspective of John Watson just like in the books and it allows you the perspective to journey along as an observer as John is for the most part.

The cleverness of the on screen text and the processing of information is one of the highlights of this show. I get giddy when they do something fun and new like that and it makes me excited for all the twists and turns that Moffat will provide in the narrative. It is small things from the text to Mrs Hudson’s one liners in the episodes that make this show really amazing. Moffat and Gatiss have made a show that will be rewatched over and over again and get the fan sites buzzing with theories on the how and whys of the show.

It will be a special and exciting moment when the third season finally airs and we find out how Sherlock escaped death and I can not wait for that moment!

I really recommend you spend the time watching this show. They are long episodes (90minutes) but every minute is worth it and it gets way better the further into the show you get. This is a fantastic show because of the writing and acting and production. Watch it!