Merlin Season 3 – 4

The Adventures of Merlin

Merlin, aka. The Adventures of Merlin, is a British television show that started in 2008. It stars Colin Morgan as a young Merlin who must hide his magical powers because Camelot has outlawed all magic on threat of death. He spends his time secretly protecting Arthur and Camelot in hopes that Arthur will someday grow into a great King.

This review is for season (or series) 3 and 4 of Merlin. If you have not seen season 1 and 2 I encouraged you to check out our season 1-2 review or simply go watch the show. This episode does not even attempt to describe the premise of Merlin and completely spoils all of season three and four. So beware! This is no holds barred magical Arthurian spoiler time!

This television series just keeps getting better! The show makes a steady incline in quality throughout season three until its a really great show in season four. Does that make up for some of the lack luster episodes in season one? Yes, actually. I think it does. Many aspects of Arthur’s character development are finally barring fruit in season four that had seeds planted way back in season one. Merlin himself still has lots of room to grow, but he’s shown some welcome steps into becoming more pro-active instead of reactive (and ignoring Gaius’s terrible advice). Hopefully, in season five we’ll finally see him become the warlock of legend.

The series does have some problems, mostly involving Morganna’s strange character development. In season three, they take some dramatic shortcuts in her development. While its certainly plausible, the show doesn’t bother explaining or even showing the path it took her to reach her new persona. Furthermore, she doesn’t appear to have any remnants of her old persona at all. There’s some weird slippery slope fallacies going on there and odd inconsistencies. I wonder if this was because the writers were so determined to follow the path of the actual Arthurian legends? Who knows, but she’s definitely the weakest link in season three and four.

We highly recommend you check out this series. Make sure to start from the beginning though! If you watched season one and two and are on the fence about watching more, we think you should reconsider. The series gets continually better and really rewards long time listeners.

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Tinman

Tinman Cast

Tinman is a 2007 Syfy Miniseries directed by Nick Willing.  It is loosley based on L. Frank Baum’s Oz book series.  Very loosely.

The miniseries has great production values, intriguing writing, and most of the cast are talented.  Zooey Deschanel gives an odd almost autistic portrayal of the main character D.J.  I’m not sure if she was directed that way or if it’s just Zooey Deschanel being Zooey Deschanel.  The rest of the cast is fantastic, particularly Neal McDonough and Kathleen Robertson.

The world building rivals a Hollywood film.  Everything in the world, from the steampunk technology to the rare glimpse of magic fits well into the world. The technology, politics, history, etc of the O.Z. is well thought out and has its own internal logic.  The world feels like it could really work.

The miniseries updates the world of the O.Z (pronounced ‘Oh Zee’) without disrespecting the original.  There are a lot of homages to the original books and films some obvious, some not.  You can tell there’s a real reverence to the source material.

The miniseries is easy to obtain.  It’s often on Netflix Instant Watch in the U.S. and readily available on blu ray and DVD in most countries.  Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.


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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Movie PosterThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a film adaption of an Alan Moore comic about classic book characters who team up to save the world.   It stars Sean Connery as Allan Quatermain (a book character that no one but Alan Moore remembered) and some other people play a vampire, invisible man, Captain Nemo, Dorian Gray, Tom Sawyer, and Dr Jekyll/Hyde.

This is a  fun but rather shallow action movie.  It was a request from regular listener Charlie.    On reflection,  he might have been referring to the comics but he needs to differentiate better next time.   Although we’re lazy so we might not have read the comics.   Still, we don’t regret watching this movie and its a fun romp the first time through.   Its worth watching at least once if you can see it on television or borrow it from a friend, but don’t pay any extra money for it.

This was recorded several weeks ago, so if you left feedback since then for the Tangled episode it hasn’t been ignored.   Your feedback will be read and discussed during the next episode.

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Stardust

Stardust is a 2007 fantasy film directed by Mathew Vaughn based on the book by Neil Gaiman.   It has a pretty star studded cast (ha ha ) of Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Robert Deniro, and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Stardust Movie PosterPlot:   An awkward young man named Tristan Thorn crosses a wall into a fantasy realm in order to retrieve a falling star for his beloved Victoria.   Only when he gets there, the fallen star is actually a woman named Yvaine.   And unfortunately, he’s not the only one trying to retrieve the fallen star.

This episode came out okay.   I tried to edit out more of the pauses then I was previously taking out as Podcast Squared suggested.   Can anyone tell a difference?   I didn’t want it to be super snappy, because I wanted to preserve the feeling of just listening to regular people talk about movies.   I think it’s possible to become too polished and come off sounding fake and generic.

Stardust is a mixed bag.   It has some great visuals, fun character moments,  and a stellar cast.   But it also has some major plot problems, and the main couple are anything but star crossed.   However, overall it’s a fun movie that’s worth watching at least once.

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Merlin Season 1-2

Merlin CastMerlin also known as The Adventures of Merlin is a British BBC One TV show that started in 2008.   It was created by Julian Jones, Jake Michie, Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps.   As of this recording in May 2011 it has three television seasons with another slated for next autumn.   The series was created to be a family drama that children to grandparents could enjoy together.

PLOT: Camelot has outlawed magic.   Anyone seen practicing magic or helping someone practicing magic will be put to death by order of the king.   No exceptions.   Magical creatures are killed on sight, whether they are dangerous or not.   The king even killed every dragon in the land save one, which he imprisoned below the castle to serve as an example to anyone who dares to defy the King.

Merlin is sent to Camelot by his mother to stay with the Camelot royal physician named Gaius.   Through a series of fortunate (or unfortunate depending on who you ask) he comes to be the manservant of Prince Arthur.   Now, he must use his powers in secret to help Prince Arthur become a great king someday, knowing that if he is ever found out to be magical he would be put to death.

OH My God.   We must never talk this long again.   It took me 7 hours to edit this episode.   This episode covers only season 1-2 of Merlin.   There are no spoilers for season 3 and onward.   We might go back later and do another episode that covers season 3.   This series has some problems, but I think its a fun ride and worth the effort of tracking down if you’re a fantasy fan.   The first two episodes are a little rough, but the show continuously improves as it goes on.

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Coraline

Coraline Movie PosterThis week we’re discussing the 2009 stop motion movie Coraline.  The movie was directed by Henry Selick, the same amazing man that brought us The Nightmare Before Christmas. The original novel the movie is based on is by Neil Gaiman who is also awesome.  So it stands to reason that this episode is chocked full of awesome.

Plot Synopsis:  Coraline is a brave and inquisitive 11 year old that has moved from Michigan with her family to a run down apartment complex in the middle of nowhere.  While exploring her new home she comes across a door that takes her to a magical land where everything is better.  The house is better, the food is better, even her parents are better.  She has everything she’s ever wished for.  But this fantasy world isn’t as wonderful as it first seems…  And why does her other mother have buttons for eyes.

Is this the newest movie we’ve ever done? Maybe? Anyways, Coraline is a great movie.  It can be a little creepy though, so if you have kids you might want to watch it before hand.  Its got an old school eighties kid movie mentality that’s quite a bit scarier than kids movies of the past twenties years.  I think this episode turned out alright.  We used an outline.  Go us.

What did you think of the movie o’listeners/readers?


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Corpse Bride

Corpse BrideThis episode was way easy to edit.   I think Melanie and I leveled up our talking skills.

The Corpse Bride is a 2005 film directed by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson.   The film is set in Victorian era England where the son of a rich fish monger, Victor, is to be engaged to the daughter of an ‘old money’ couple named Victoria.   The match is a business arrangement.   Love isn’t even a factor.   However, when the two young people  meet they hit it off right away.   Unfortunately, Victor is so nervous he screws up the wedding reception and after a stroke of bad luck, accidentally marries a dead  woman named Emily.

This is a great stop motion film that’s surprisingly touching and romantic despite its horror appearance.   The Corpse Bride seems like she’d be a horror from the underworld who rises from the dead to exact revenge upon the living, but she’s actually a sweet tragic heroine who you really feel for even if she’s scary looking.

We tried to do a little more research for this review than normal, and hopefully it shows.

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Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl's Moving CastleThis episode we  discuss the Ghibli film Howl’s Moving Castle AND the book Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.   We had two requests from Tora-chan and Monica G for the Miyazaki directed Howl’s Moving Castle, but decided to also include the book in our discussion.   I read the book long before I saw the movie, and its far far superior to the lackluster Ghibli film.   Sophie is a much more fiery and proactive heroine in the book.   She was very much Howl’s equal.   Furthermore, most of the narrative problems with the movie stem from the nonsensical add ons that Ghibli stacked on that were not prescent in Diana Wynne’s book.   There was nothing about the enviroment in the original book, and the war was something that was only  mentioned briefly.

This episode is a little short.   Melanie’s connection was going out so we had to end the discussion about 10-15 minutes early.   The episode is still a half an hour long, though.

So what was your opinion on Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle? How do you think it holds up to the book? Were you even aware there was a book?   Got requests?   Please comment, we love to hear your thoughts and opinions!

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