Tuesday, 28 October 2008

TV Snark - Merlin: A Remedy To Cure All Ills OR I Pereferred The Brain Slugs In Star Trek II

Hello everyone, I'm back from my jaunt to London village and can now present you with the late, but (hopefully) as entertaining as ever, Merlin recap.

This week's special guest star is Doctor Mac from Green Wing. He is working in a lab and whispering magic words to a box full of bugs. He places one of the insects into an orchid and summons Interflora to deliver the bouquet to Morgana. Maybe she'll do something in this episode? She doesn't do much in this scene as she goes to bed and then the bug crawls into her ear. During this process there is an incredibly bad and unnecessary use of CGI.


Why didn't they use a real bug? Was the actress squeamish or couldn't they find a trained insect to crawl across her face? After all, the bug was trained well enough to crawl across the bed and a pillow in the right direction, why not let it finish the scene? It just seems to be an expensive way of achieving an effect that would have looked better if done for real.

Anyway, cut to main titles where the only thing we haven't seen from there so far is the undead looking monster guy. He doesn't look as crap as the Avanc was so I'm not that excited.

Meanwhile back in Camelot, two days have passed whilst the audience has been gawking at the titles. Morgana has been in a coma for all of that time and Gaius has been trying to cure her. Gaius Meldrew uses terms like 'coma' and 'inflammation of the brain' which makes him some medieval medical marvel (try saying that five times fast).

Edwin Muirden (our guest star of the week) appears at Camelot and requests an audience with Uther. Arthur tells him to do one as he already has a physician. Plus there's no room in Camelot for ugly people.

A day later (time is really flying between scenes this episode) Arthur suddenly champions the suspicious Edwin when Gaius Meldrew announces that he can't think of any other treatments. Edwin appears in court and offers his amazing remedy (or perhaps, Marvellous Medicine?) that cures all ills. Arthur offers Edwin the use of Merlin so that Merlin can conveniently discover Edwin's fascination with alchemy.

Edwin banishes everyone from Morgana's room so that he can cure her. At no point does he explain what he's going to do but everyone takes him at his word and leaves. Well, apart from Gaius who wants to learn from a fellow physician, but he too is banished. As Edwin begins his magic, Gwen enters the room from another door but she is quickly thrown out by Edwin. This is so that Gwen has something to do in this episode as the writers' inability to cater for Morgana spreads to Gwen.

Edwin recalls his brain eating bug and cures Morgana. He also suggests that Gaius mis-diagnosed Morgana's condition and suggests that Gaius' treatment would have eventually killed her. Morgana has instantly awoken from her brain bug coma and is absolutely fine for someone whose brain has been munched on for 3 days. Gaius is suspicious of Edwin and tries to ask whether he has treated Edwin's face previously, Edwin insists that he doesn't know Gaius thus ensuring that Gaius will become even more suspicious.

Gaius visits the librarian from a previous episode. The librarian has graduated to recurring character and therefore he now has a name - Geoffrey. Say hello to Geoff the Librarian everyone! Gaius wants Geoff to get out the special records from before The Purge so he can check into Edwin's past. Geoff doesn't want to lose his job so he turns Gaius down.

Merlin wanders into Edwin's quarters because he's nosy and likes trespassing. Merlin finds the box of bugs and reads the magic inscription on the box that animates the insects. Unfortunately for Merlin, Edwin was home and saw everything. Edwin reveals his magic powers by using telekinesis on some blue dust (yawn) and tries to tempt Merlin to the Dark Side with an offer of knowledge sharing. He doesn't offer cookies though so I don't think it will work. Edwin makes Merlin promise to keep his magic powers secret as they're magic buddies now.

Geoff reappears and gives Gaius the records he wanted. I guess Geoff wanted to appear in another scene so by refusing Gaius the records the first time he could appear again. Cunning.

Edwin tells Uther that Gaius is recommending drugs that may have caused Morgana's illness. Uther approves Edwin's research into Gaius's other treatments as he fears old man Meldrew is losing the plot.

Gaius confronts Edwin with the knowledge that Edwin's parents were sorcerers who were burnt alive by Uther. Edwin confesses and makes clear his plan to kill Uther. Edwin prevents Gaius from going straight to Uther with this knowledge as he threatens to reveal Merlin's magical talents to Uther. Gaius folds in the face of blackmail and stays quiet.

Edwin goes back to Uther and makes Gaius out to be an incompetent old man. Uther offers Edwin the job of physician to replace Gaius Meldrew. Morgana gets to appear again and state the case for Gaius then she disappears again. To be fair, Arthur has done next to nothing in this episode either because it's all been about Gaius and Edwin.

Gaius Meldrew goes to the CGI dungeon to visit the John Hurt dragon. The dragon isn't very sympathetic as Uther is his jailer so his health isn't a priority of his. He then mocks Gaius for turning a blind eye during The Purge. Burn! Guess there was no sagely wisdom available this week.

Gaius is then summoned to Uther's court and fired. What a day. Gaius sadly leaves the court and says his goodbyes to Merlin. Merlin is all sad and stuff but there's nothing he can do as he doesn't know that Gaius is being blackmailed into leaving.

Edwin leaps into action (before Gaius has even left the building) and recommends that Uther use a different painkiller for his old war wound. It's a remedy that cures all ills. So that'd be death then.

Gaius bumps into Gwen on his way out so that she has something to do in this episode. Gwen tries to encourage Gaius to stay and tell Uther about Edwin. Gwen has come to the conclusion that Edwin is evil because:

1. She saw him stood over her mistress when he was officially treating her.
2. He was a bit mean to her and made her fetch some water.
3. He cured her mistress of a fatal condition.

As you can see, it's pretty easy to get on the wrong side of the future Mrs. Pendragon. Using knowledge that only a copy of the script can provide, she tries to get Gaius to stay but he's determined to look sad and traipse off.

A scene change later and Uther takes his new special medicine and is suddenly paralysed. Edwin gloats over his prone form as he fetches the brain eating bugs and places one in Uther's brain.

Before Edwin can escape Gaius appears (he had only just left Camelot I suppose) and tries to use magic but cocks it up because he forgets the words. Edwin summons fire to encircle Gaius and menace him without actually hurting him. Merlin enters the room and sees his mentor in danger. Edwin tries to tempt Merlin to the Dark Side again but Merlin refuses and after a brief telekinetic duel, buries an axe in Edwin's head. He's gone to guest star heaven now.

Merlin then uses magic to save Uther's life and remove the brain bug from his head. This is achieved via glowing eyes and tugging on the king's ears. Uther is saved and in gratitude he gives Gaius his job back and makes him a freeman. Hurrah.

Next week - Arthur is in peril due to EVIL FAIRIES!

This episode was more of the same, a cast member in mortal peril due to illness/poison (again), an evil magic using guest star (again), and a pointless dragon appearance (again). It's all very safe and formulaic but also boring. It's competent entertainment but competent isn't good, it's vanilla, average, dull. Still, evil fairies next week, that should be good for a laugh if nothing else.


Muse said...

Splendid as always!

Geoffrey the Librarian is Geoffrey of Monmouth, the writer of the 'History of the Kings of Britain' who also wrote 2 works on Merlin: "The Life of Merlin" and "The Prophecies of Merlin" (his full name was mentioned the previous week when Lancelot's lineage was checked.)

Aaron said...

Oops, totally missed that. Thanks for the knowledge.