Alright, so at the risk of pouring embarrassment on myself and all who associate with me, I’m going to reveal that I’m a bit of a sci-fi/ fantasy nut. In particular, I love the legend of King Arthur, I really do. I especially love when legends are planted in prospective history. Well, I guess history wouldn’t be prospective, but you know what I mean. The best movie of all time regarding this legend is, of course, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And I can’t even mention that fact without declaring that, despite all appearances, “I’m not a witch!” Ok, whew. I feel better now.
Anyway, it seems like lately cable TV has jumped on board as well. I love the fact that Sci-Fi and fantasy are becoming more mainstream. Soon I’ll be able to wear my Arwen costume to work. (Kidding. I have to wear scrubs.)
The Sci-Fi channel is wrapping up its season of Merlin. This is a PG version of the legend where Merlin is young prince Arthur’s servant. He has to constantly come to his master and friend's aid without revealing his abilities since magic has been outlawed by King Uther. It’s typical Friday night Sci-Fi Channel escapist cheese. I’m still wondering how that channel pulled off an epic masterpiece like the recent series, Battlestar Galactica. They’ve had other winners over the years, but yeah, Merlin doesn’t exactly approach the astounding quality of BSG. Still, gosh darnit, if it doesn’t just make you smile when those random, inexplicable, hilarious CGI goblins wreak havoc on Camelot.
I actually don’t hate the series. Far from it. I just get frustrated that the writers can’t seem to decide if they take their show seriously or not. One minute they seem to revel in their camp, and the next they expect us to embrace a serious story arc or character conflict. Only Supernatural can pull off both. Merlin just leaves me tilting my head and staring at the television in confusion.
Taking an entirely different approach is Starz which just began airing its opposite take on King Arthur this past week. This is Starz. This would be the R-rated version. No CGI goblins yet, but plenty of, ahem, other things. There is no mistaking the mood of this series, however. They want to be taken seriously. Minus the whole sorcery thing, of course, they expect us to embrace the historic significance of young Arthur’s world. I could do without some of the juicier scenes, that’s for sure, but I do like the serious approach to the legend. Remember my appreciation for “prospective history.” (I know there’s a term for it, but my brain is too busy reconstructing the sword in the stone myth. Speaking of which, Starz wants you to believe the sword was just an old relic planted by Merlin in a waterfall. The Sci-Fi Channel had their take too, but details schmetails, more pesky gremlins!)