Monday, November 29, 2010

The Cup of Life

"Merlin" must go down in my personal TV history as one of my favourite shows: maybe THE most favourite of all. I've been watching ever since NBC ran season 1 a couple of summers ago. Now, I watch via BBC on satellite. In the screen capture below, Morgana watches out her tower window as Arthur and Merlin set off in search of the Cup...


The next-to-last installment of Season 3 of BBC's Merlin demonstrates an ages-old lesson: betrayal. I really enjoy the series because it is "progressive" as opposed to "static." What do I mean by that? Well, if you watch the series "Seinfeld" you'll see that over its many seasons-run not too much changed. In the end, the characters were the same characters they began as in Season 1. On the other hand, if you watch "Gossip Girl" or "Stargate" you'll see that there is a progression of events and character changes. Best example: The Harry Potter movie series. THAT is progression!

Everyone has at least heard of the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Wikipedia states "The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated by scholars. The first datable mention of King Arthur is in a 9th century Latin text." Merlin Ambrosius, or Myrddin Emrys was Arthur's personal assistant, and, court wizard. Quoting Wikipedia again: "Merlin's traditional biography casts him as a cambion; born of a mortal woman, sired by an incubus, the non-human wellspring from whom he inherits his supernatural powers and abilities."

The creative forces behind Merlin go beyond mythology to not only explore the younger days of then-Prince Arthur and his wizard pal: they develop, define and refine the story and the characters with each new episode. The last turning point in the series came when Merlin set the dragon free. This time it is when Morgana receives the Crown.

In Se03e12 one of King Uther's knights is miraculously saved by the druids and a goblet called the Cup of Life, a powerful magical artifact that carries the gift of immortality. .... Upon hearing of it Uther orders Arthur to find the cup, and the adventure begins! The writers do an incredible job of weaving the episodes together like a fine tapestry.

Embedded in each episode is a lesson. It could be about life, about choices, about diplomacy, about people. While some TV series have certain "turning point" or other episodes that are cutting edge, every ep of Merlin is as good as or better than the last. ATV reports that the BBC recently ordered a fourth series of the 7:40pm Saturday drama which will run to 10 episodes long.

Past TV shows I've enjoyed include gems like "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." - "Superman" (the original with George Reeves, where the creators did the best they could using early 1950s technology), "Charmed" and "Dark Angel." There are just two "Charmed" eps that are classics: one features David Carradine as the timekeeper and the other is about the character Leo dying after being shot by a magical arrow. My fave "Dark Angel" is the one wher Joshua gets to go "trick or treating" as himself. And the entire first season of "Superman" represents the small-screen version of Film Noir at its best.

Movies I've enjoyed (series movies, that is) are "Charlie Chan," "Star Trek" and "Harry Potter." And that's it. For now.

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