Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Merlin - The Death Song of Uther Pendragon

As a series Merlin has to me always been a little switch-brain-off and enjoy, but there's always been enough depth to hold my interest. With the latest run I wondered if it had jumped the shark?

A two-parter to start a new season is fine and can act as a hook to get someone to watch the second part and then onwards; in this instance I really didn't care what happened.

As a story the core elements needed to be told, we needed Mordred re-introduced, but the way this was told was execrable. By the middle of the two-parter we were jumping between five locations in a frenetic "meanwhile" which sacrificed the character depth that has been a mark of this series. There was also the over-reliance on computer imagery.

It's always been a little cheap, but it's gotten away with it by cuts. So for example we get to see Merlin call the Dragon and we get a long-shot of the landing, we get the odd close-up of the Dragon's face for expressions and switch between Merlin's and the Dragon's point of view same continuous scene but never long enough to note how bad the imagery is.

In this episode (spoilers) we get a little too much of the baby dragon, but far too much of the "Key". That was just dire work. Bad animation, terrible lip-syncing and the big joke being that this manifestation was necessary. Hell have the Key be a Druidic prophecy carved into a wall and buried in an earthquake; have Merlin accidentally deflect the fire breath of the dragon onto the wall and melt it away before he had a chance to read it. But no we got a blue glowing elf.

But wait the title of this entry is "The Death Song of Uther Pendragon" and that's because this one episode undid all the harm the previous two had caused me. Character-driven storyline, tightly focused directing; simple effects - this is how it should be done. My one minor niggle is this would have been best suited for next week closer to Halloween. I simply couldn't fault this episode.