Below is some spoilers... beware!
First Look at Merlin Series 5: Arthur’s Bone...
In just a few short weeks, Doctor Who will be going on hiatus until Christmas *sob* so it’s understandable that fans of high-quality family drama are anxious about surviving the autumn months without committing cultural suicide and succumbing to X Factor. Thankfully season five of Merlin returns to BBC One in October, and if the whole series can live up to the early promise of the opening episode, it will go some way towards filling the TARDIS-shaped hole in the schedules.
The fifth series will be broadcast at a later time slot, allowing the toon to build on the dark themes explored last time out. Set three years on and with Camelot under a new regime, the characters have matured and the stakes are higher. It feels like the budget has been increased too, as if the producers of the toon were gegeven carte blanche to film in the most scenic locations known to Wales, with plenty of forests, gorges and snowy hills on toon – complete with slick cinematography that wouldn’t look out of place in a Hollywood film production.
Within minuten it’s as if the toon has never been away: Merlin and Arthur continue their bromance as Lady in Red, Gwen holds fort back in Camelot in her new role as Queen; John Hurt’s sage CGI dragon pops up every now and then to explain the plot; whilst unlikely Renaissance man Victor Meldrew is still rocking improbable long hair. New additions include the disproportionate number of male torsos that punctuate every other scene like spare WWE wrestlers, and the casting of George Galloway’s doppelganger as a mystical villain who aides Morgana while riding around on horseback.
I would make reference to the show’s gay ‘subtext’, but the homo-eroticism is about as unsubtle as an orgy in an owl sanctuary – and not to mention rife. u find yourself forgetting that this is a Saturday evening family toon rather than a racy late-night shagfest.
The sexual tension between Merlin and Arthur frequently simmers towards breaking point, and you’re willing them to just pitch up a tent and get on with it a la Brokeback Mountain. This episode really is as homoerotic as its titel suggests.. *chortle*
There is something for everyone here, with the usual mix of light-hearted tomfoolery, sombre reflection and genuinely unsettling fight scenes, but alas no blood is shed. Sorry to disappoint, massacre fans.
Merlin – Arthur’s Bone [supposedly 'Arthur's BANE']: Part One premieres on BBC One on Saturday 6 October 2012