BBC1 - 4th October 2008 - 6.00pm
And so we plod gamely on. Viewing figures improved on last night's showing which seems to indicate the 6.00pm slot is good for the show after all. Guess what, it's back to 7.00pm next week. It's scheduling by lottery all over again (see Doctor Who Series 4) and it's only because The X Factor is moving into it's live shows next week. By the way, I actually watched all of the Factor last night and quite frankly it's shit. Strictly Come Dancing is a work of televisual gold compared to it. And I don't feel as sullied after watching celebs doing the Tango. Talking of sullied...
...her monster born of an egg was rather good even if in one or two shots it was clearly a man in drag, and no, I'm not referring to MorganaSo, Michelle Ryan joins the cast as the sorceress Nimueh. However, she spends the episode doing nothing more than boil an egg, stare into a pool of water and use her best RADA training to utter "You'll pay for this, Merlin" just before the end titles roll. I will say she adds a little bit of menace to the proceedings and her monster born of an egg was rather good even if in one or two shots it was clearly a man in drag, and no, I'm not referring to Morgana. Let's hope Ryan gets a bit more to do next week as she was the most refreshing thing in this rather turgid little story.
And Morgana...just what is Morgana supposed to be doing in this show? The big problem with the series is that it's taking way too long to get all the characters in the right places and doing what they're supposed to do. Hence, we get an entire episode where Merlin either attempts to come out to the plebs as a warlock and fails because Arthur makes up a load of cock and bull about him being in love with Gwen or we get the same thing 40 odd minutes later when Morgana, having seen Merlin do his stuff to defeat the monster in collaboration with Arthur, fools us into believing she's found out Merlin's secret life as a warlock only to have her drag the whole 'you're in love with Gwen' routine in again. Stop it. Stop it now, before I die of boredom.
I'm even getting tired of Colin Morgan, good as he is, and he hasn't taken his top off since the first episode. Surely, even he can't keep the pretty boy act going for much longer.
What annoys me is that all the main roles have been cast with young actors in a very calculated attempt to appeal to the pubescent children who might watch this and it's about as sexy as fog. At least Michelle Ryan oozed a bit of sexual menace. I'm even getting tired of Colin Morgan, good as he is, and he still hasn't taken his top off since the first episode. Surely, even he can't keep the pretty boy act going for much longer. And even though they made Gwen much more of a focus this week she's still about as interesting as dish water. A shame that her father turns all veiny and blue because of Nimueh's water pollution but it's obvious that Merlin will save the day and you end up not giving a shit about her or her father. It's jeopardy lite. And they really can't keep Merlin's sorcery a secret for the whole series, can they? As a series arc it's already worn out.
And who thought of calling the creature Afanc? It sounds positively kinky when you think about it - Merlin and Arthur go into the caves under Camelot to have Afanc. No wonder it's called Camelot. Afanc, afanc, my kingdom for Afanc. Sullied, again. Dirty minds aside, the scenes in the caves chasing the creature are the highlight of a very dull episode with Colin Morgan and Bradley James finally getting some genuine chemistry going. Director James Hawes is still managing to put a visual stamp on the episodes and makes it all look lavish. Pretty. But dull. And he at least gets some decent performances out of Richard Wilson and Anthony Head. Wilson's so far been the best thing in it. Michelle Ryan might give him a run for his money next week.
Three episodes in and we've finally got the potential glimmer of some actual conflict with the arrival of Nimueh. Considering that drama depends on conflict then Merlin has so far failed to get my pulse out of its pit of despondency rather than actually racing. Someone give this series a kick up the bum. It's too sedate.
Catch The Mark Of Nimueh streaming at Surf The Channel
Cathode Ray Tube Merlin The Mark Of Nimueh
- Freelance writer and film and television researcher (for hire).
He has contributed to a number of books and websites about British archive television and cinema as well as recent television series including work for Moviemail, Frame Rated and Arrow Video. Publications include I.B Tauris's 'Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour - A Critical
Celebration of the Matt Smith and Steven Moffat Era' (2013) and 'Doctor
Who - The Pandorica Opens' (2010).
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Comments7 Responses to “MERLIN: Episode Three - The Mark of Nimueh”
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