Merlin: Beauty and the Beast, Parts 1 and 2

“I don't suppose it's escaped your notice, Sire, but we just... just wanted to make absolutely certain. You do realise your wife is a troll, Sire?”

Uther is bewitched into marrying a troll. It is a decent enough idea for a comedy episode. But for a two-parter? Come on, that is just pushing it. There really isn't enough story material here to justify two episodes. There isn't really enough material for two reviews, which is why I've decided to review both in one go.

I'm not a fan of Merlin's comedy episodes. They are geared more towards the youngest members of the audience and as a result the humour tends to be very broad and juvenile. This means farts jokes. A lot of fart joke. An almost ridiculous amount of fart jokes. So many in fact that I started to wonder if Russell T. Davies wrote this episode. Even though this is a comedy episode, you get the sense that, because this is a two-parter, the writers still want Catrina and Jonas to be seen as a serious threat. But any attempt at real drama is undermined by all the comedy. And the comedy constantly falls flat.

As the troll and her servant, Sarah Parish and Adam Godley let go of all restraint and really chow down on the scenery. They must've been having a competition to see who could ham it up the most. And I'd say that Parish won. Her performance as the Troll/Lady Catrina make her Empress of the Racnoss look like something out of a Ken Loach drama. The last ten minutes, as Merlin struggled to escape and stop Uther from marrying Catrina, were actually rather exciting. But this is where the story should've ended. Instead, Merlin failed and so we had to endure another episode of fart gags and hammy acting.

While Part One was very silly, Part Two is an utter farce. It started out well. Arthur finally stands up to his father, in public no less, to defend the people from the brutal new tax laws. It's great to see all Arthur's character development in 'The Once and Future Queen' hasn't gone to waste. But once Catrina is exposed, the whole thing descends into pantomine as the entire court just goes along with it and puts up with the smell because they don't want to upset the still besotted king. Even by this show's standards this is just absurd. This situation has become so ridiculous that Gaius and Merlin's bonkers plan to break Catrina's hold on Uther (step one; kill Arthur) actually seems rather sensible by comparison.

Merthur Moments

The near hug at the end. Deny it all you want, Arthur Pendragon, but you were clearly going in for a kiss.

Familiar Faces

Sarah Parish (the Troll/Lady Catrina) is best known for starring in Cutting It, Mistresses and Doctor Who. Adam Godley (Jonas) has appeared on the likes of Dollhouse, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Breaking Bad and Mad Men.

Notes and Quotes

--Gold acting star for Anthony Head. While Parish and Godley ham it up to 11, he plays it straight, even when hopelessly under Catrina's spell, and ends up being funnier than both of them.

--Love Arthur's eye rolling at his father being so in love.

--Foolish Merlin. Don't trust the bad guy's minion. It is obvious he is leading you into a trap.

--Merlin and Gaius are really lazy. They could've at least put Arthur in his bed rather than just leave him on the floor.

Merlin: “Don't you think it's odd how quickly they've become close?”
Arthur: “There's nothing odd about that. My father is a wealthy and powerful man.”

Lady Catrina: “I hate being like this. So clean. It's revolting. I can't keep it up. This skin, this face. I just want to claw it off.”
Jonas: “Think of all the money and the power. Soon it will all be yours.”

Uther: “Nonsense. You've grown too soft. Remember, these are your subjects, not your friends.”
Arthur: “Why can't they be both?”
Uther: “Because we rule the people, not the other way round.”
Arthur: “I think you're wrong.”
Uther: “I beg your pardon?”
Arthur: “I said you're wrong. Without the people, there is no Camelot. We're as much their servant as they are ours.”

Arthur: “She's a troll! A giant, grey...”
Morgana: “Stinking!”
Arthur: “...stinking troll!”

A collective two out of four love scenes between Uther and the Troll that may require you to bleach your brain after viewing.
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Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

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