Red Scharlach (redscharlach) wrote,
Red Scharlach

Dollopheads to the left

It's time to fling off your chain mail, wash down your manservant and brace yourself for predictable jokes about anachronistic vegetables, because Merlin has returned for a third series. Hooray!

Here are some thoughts about The Tears of Uther Pendragon the Sensitive Misunderstood Woobie King, Aw Diddums, Part I:

  • Once again, in the land of BBC One and the time of teatime, the destiny of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of a young boy. Only now, the words "young boy" are sounding increasingly inaccurate, since Merlin is looking and sounding distinctly grown up these days. He also has a more serious haircut, which does even less to hide his seriously serious ears than the previous pudding-bowl affair did. Bless him.

  • Anyway, for a moment it seems that everything else in Albion has gone a bit edgy too: Arthur's all sweaty and purposeful and swordwielding, the fields are peppered with dead knights (or else the Albion Annual Folk Festival and Camping Weekend has gone VERY awry), and every smoke machine in the land has been cranked up to full blast. But never fear, things haven't become deep and intellectual: Merlin and Arthur are still managing to have long conversations about each other's bottoms and the relative size and soreness thereof. Ooookay. Business as usual, then.

  • And speaking of business as usual, dollophead is the new clotpoll! It's what all the idiomatic cod-medieval kids are saying these days, innit.

  • Who's this staggering through the woods, bedecked in designer dirt? It's Morgana, working her wobbly lower lip for all she's worth. She's turned up a little late for the (slightly lacklustre) finale of series 2, but never fear, it looks like we're going to get a big old dose of melodramatic action now to make up for it.

  • But first, some news for all those who wagered few groats (or a few goats) on this week's competition: namely, how long would it be until Arthur's first gratuitous shirtless scene of the series? The answer is a very restrained 11 minutes, 6 seconds. The person with the nearest guess wins a personalized rub-down from the Crown Prince of their choice...

    The cod-medieval answer to safe sex. Don't worry, it's riveted for your pleasure.

  • Oh look, it's the return of perpetual bystander Sir Regular Speaking-Part, more correctly credited as Sir Leon. Despite appearances to the contrary, he didn't get charred to death by the Slash Dragon last series, which is good. However, his part hasn't noticeably grown in the interim (poor man), and he only gets to mutter something dull about grain supplies before he gets shooed out of the room so that Uther can have a tearful reunion with Morgana.

  • On that very topic, how did Morgana know Uther would cry when he saw her again, rather than playing it manly and stoic? Was it magical trickery, or did she just hide a load of onions down her bra and hope for the best?

  • Anyway, in case you hadn't suspected it, Morgana is now evil. In fact, she's not just evil, she's Evil (TM), having apparently graduated from Lady Morgause's Academy of Evil-in-the-Woods, where young ladies are taught the arts of Evil Smirking, Evil Elocution (round out your vowels and use insults like "snivelling dog"), and Evil Laughter. However, she seems to have skipped the classes in Sneaking, Scuttling and Subtlety, since her concept of a discreet moonlit flit is not so much subtle sneaking as flouncing in a big frock. Still, I guess everyone's got a weak subject.

  • As a reward for doing so well in her Evil exams, Morgause shows her half-sister a great recipe for mandrake and chocolate fondue. Ideal for parties! Yeah, it might scream a little on the way down, but your less magical guests will never know the difference. The one problem is that it's a bit messy, and if you create any unexpected stains or drips, you might find yourself having to murder people to cover it up. Darn the non-invention of magical Tupperware, eh?

  • For a moment at Morgana's "You're Not Dead, Yay" feast, I feared that drunken, mandraked Uther was going to start professing his TROO LURVE for Morgana and claiming that she was his BESSHT MATE, but much to everyone's relief (especially Morgana's), he decided instead to go for a little walk outside, see his dead wife down the well, and promptly lose his marbles. Well, we've all had nights like that.

  • Alas, poor Gwen, who gets a rather unpromising start to the series. You'd think it wouldn't be hard to incorporate her into the plot, since she's a good chum of Morgana and probably has a few relevant opinions on her mistress's current state of distress (or lack thereof), but no. Instead she is required only to look put upon and do a bit of flower arranging. And unlike Morgana, she doesn't even have any new dresses this season. It's just not good enough.

  • Well hello there, King Cenred von Leather Trousers, also known as the former fiancé of Martha Jones and now Morgause's bit of rough in the country. Despite having been styled by the Guy of Gisborne Memorial Thrift Shop and Wig Hire Emporium, he's welcome to warm up my throne room any time he likes. Mmm.

  • My increasing amusement at Morgana's Evil (TM) facepulling came to a head when she decided to go and poison the unfortunate guard who spotted her dripping on the battlements. How, by this stage, has nobody turned around and caught her grimacing? Camelot Unobservant Syndrome is even more rife than usual this year, it seems.

  • Merlin may have missed Morgana's non-too-subtle smirks, but he does discover the chocolate mandrake under Uther's mattress. Thrilled that his hiding-under-furniture skills are undimmed since the last series, he slips away after Morgana, but hilariously it turns out that he's even less subtle at sneaking around than she is. He gets himself caught just in time for Morgause's next Evil Overlady demonstration class, "Bondage with Pretty Boys", which involves him having to spend an entire day on his knees in chains. Oookay. You can make up your own jokes about that one.

  • "This is not just me talking. Members of the court have spoken." - no, Gaius, this IS just you talking. Members of the court aren't paid enough to speak, as well you know. Talk to Equity about it.

  • Meanwhile, back in the forest, it's the return of the random giant scorpions (or serkets, as they are properly called in Merlinland). I'm glad to see that they haven't let their recent cameo in Clash of the Titans go to their heads, and are still willing to turn up for TV work. They're probably available for panto if anyone wants to book them.

  • In another fit of gratuitous continuity, Merlin remembers his elite Dragonlord skills in the nick of time, and yells something incomprehensible at the sky. It probably means "Oy, Dragon! Save me now and I promise I'll snog Arthur the next time I see him! WITH TONGUES!!!", since it succeeds in attracting the Slash Dragon's attention and leads him to swoop down and carry Merlin away romantically in one clammy claw. I strongly suspect that in the next episode, Merlin will be forced to listen to a lot of reptilian ranting about DESTINY and DUTY and CAN I BARBECUE UTHER'S HEAD WITH A TASTY MARINADE NOW, but that's the price you pay for hailing a dragon taxi after sundown.

  • Ooh, they're pulling out all the dramatic stops for the big climax. Gung-ho apocalyptic choral singing! Morgause smirking! King Leather-Pants massing his tiny CGI army in the distance! It's all go! I only hope they don't blow the entire series budget in the first two episodes. Not that I'd object to eleven instalments based entirely around Arthur taking his shirt off and putting it back on again, but it'd be nice if they could vary it with a bit of swordplay and scenery. Just for variety's sake, you know.

  • Overall: rousing stuff in the main, with a promisingly dark tone, albeit still peppered with the slapstick and semi-nudity we've come to expect. And thank heavens that Morgana's got something to do, even if it IS mostly chewing up the scenery. If only Gwen had fared as well, it would have been the ideal start to the series. As it is, it's promising, but let's see if we can do even better in the weeks to come...

  • Next week: ACTION and EXPLODEY THINGS. I can hardly wait. Can you?
Tags: merlin
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