Friday, 16 October 2009

Merlin: All hail the Great Slash Dragon

So, there's this show called Merlin and it's mostly made for kids. It's a rewritten Smallville set in a rather anachronistic Middle Ages where everyone bathes and Prince Arthur doesn't have songs written about him because he gloriously slaughtered several thousand people and then slept with his half sister. Guinevere and Merlin are servants, Morgana is the King's ward, Prince Arthur is the same age as Merlin and there's enough HoYay! to please even the biggest Smallville fan pining for the days of Michael Rosenbaum. By making all the characters friends and the same age, the show has managed to spawn an extraordinary amount of slash and shipper fan fiction; culminating in the dubbing of the dragon the "Great Slash Dragon" due to his frequent slashy pronouncements, such as "the half cannot hate that which makes it whole!".

The re-imagining of the Arthurian mythology doesn't bother me because the story has been so reworked over the past 1000 years as to be completely unrecognisable from the original and our definition of a hero has changed significantly since then (which explains why the raping, maiming, and pillaging is gone). The first season was also very enjoyable in a vaguely naff way and had a kick-ass season finale where Merlin kicked far more butt in one episode than Clark Kent has in 9 seasons of Smallville.

But season 2 has just started in the UK and the writers seriously need to pick up their game if they want to build on the positives from Season 1. Firstly there's been no pay off from the developments in Season 1. After such a great season finale, we should have seen some recognition of the journey the characters took in the last season. Instead the writers hit the reset button and created a new set of Season 2 characters: 'Merlin the Coward', 'Arthur the Idiot', 'Gwen the Fickle' and, most tragically, 'Morgana the Mysteriously Absent'.

Episode 1 seemed to have been written by slash fan fiction writers (oh look, Arthur has his shirt off again!) and took the characters' development back about 15 episodes (quite a feat when there's only been 13). When an 8 year old can pick the plot holes you've got to worry. The general consensus of all ages was that episode 2 was unbearably dull and consisted of long boring jousting scenes punctuated by painful conversations between Arthur and Guinevere. Not like episode 4, which contained long boring scenes of people being fed to CGI ROUS' (where's the Dread Pirate Roberts when he's needed?) punctuated by painful angst-ridden emo looks of anguish between Gwen, Lancelot and Arthur, all of whom incidentally have far more chemistry with Merlin than with each other. Hence the HoYay!

The bright spot in the season so far was Morgana's day out in 'The Nightmare Begins', an otherwise excellent episode marred by the very unwelcome appearance of 'Merlin the Coward'. Merlin decides not to tell Morgana his secret because....well... it was in the script. Merlin and Morgana had so much chemistry in this episode there are significantly more Merlin/Morgana shippers today than yesterday.

Pick it up guys. I, and a whole of heap of other children of all ages, will be watching. At least for a little while.

Homoeroticism, Yay!
Enjoy all the HoYay! fun with these great YouTube videos.
Warning: contains slash and inaccurate editing.

'One Way or Another' Arthur is going to get Merlin

Merlin's never gonna give Arthur up in this MerlinRoll!

Merlin and Arthur are all about Love, Sex and Magic, in this video with the classic comment, "How many sex faces can they possibly pull in a single series?", the answer to which of course is "many more, at least until Colin Morgan learns to portray pain without it looking like orgasm".

They 'ship themselves really. Merlin: where everyone has Hungry Eyes

Arthur's 'Already Gone' in this tribute to the Season 1 finale

Some serious Snow Patrol angst in this non-slash tribute to friendship, which bears a striking resemblence to slash.

Someone should have told the editor of this very serious Merlin video that this song is about sex...

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