Three minutes into episode 1 of this new Merlin and I am pissed off. Merlin is a teenage, brown-haired boy who straggles into a fully built Camelot just as Uther Pendragon is getting ready to execute some poor sap for trying to practice magic, which, everyone should know, is punishable by death. Oh, and a totally hot young Morgana (Uther's ward) looks on from an upper window. Uther dives into some super-obvious exposition about how, when he came to the land 20 years ago, magic was everywhere and he happily drove it out with an iron fist. Seriously, this guy hates magic like Republican senators hate homosexuals because they're personally bicurious. The recently executed dude's ugly mom openly curses Uther and then disappears in a cloud of dust before the guards can seize her for practicing magic.
Merlin cautiously makes his way to the headquarters of the "Court Physician," Gaius. Security is pretty lax because the two guards just nod their head and let him pass. Inside, Merlin scopes out the tables full of weird concoctions, books, tools and beakers full of substances. As he calls out to the Gaius, who is reaching oh-so-dangerously for something on a high shelf, Gaius starts to fall. We get a close-up of Merlin's eyes as they flash with some sort of fiery effect and he slows down time; next, he does the eye-flashy thing again and Gaius falls harmlessly onto his bed that has quickly moved across the room. We're then treated to a painfully written dialogue sequence in which Gaius claims he knows Merlin used magic and wants to know from whom he learned. Merlin stutters and replies that he was just born that way and shows Gaius a letter from his mother.
So far, the majority of this young Merlin's screentime has been spent with him looking dopily at the green screen around him. I won't relate the rest of the crappy episode, but I feel this person's script parody is pretty spot-on: Parody
The reason the show pisses me off so much at first viewing is the obvious lack of historical credibility and the lengths to which they ignore so much canonical information regarding Merlin and the world in which he lived. The most obvious wince-inducing mistake is that Uther Pendragon did not build Camelot, Arthur did. However, Merlin was very young when he first met Uther. Magic was not a simple black-and-white topic in those days; everyone was very superstitious and very much polytheistic.
OK, a lot more gripes as the episode continues but I have to limit it since this list could go on forever:
- Merlin runs into Arthur who is bullying some poor kid by making the kid wear a target while Arthur throws daggers at him. In most accounts, Arthur and Uther never meet and Uther was certainly never a father figure to him. Arthur was raised by Sir Ector and was naturally meek and humble--he wasn't a bully. Also, he certainly wasn't the same age as Merlin. Oh, and Gwenivere was not half African-American.