Merlin – Christmas finales, lessons from Downton Abbey, and how not to end a rocky season (Originally for CliqueClack TV)

Hello, everyone. How were your holidays. Good? Mine were great. I got lots of fantastic presents, ate far too much dessert, visited with a lot of people, and watched a whole lot of British TV. Specifically, there were two season finales that aired across the pond — Merlin and Downton Abbey. And while I know it’s not really fair to Merlin to compare it to a show that’s won every award under the sun, twice, and also has Dame Maggie Smith, I kind of couldn’t help but do that.

Both Merlin and Downton Abbey were shows that had seasons that were uneven in quality — Merlin started out great and then steadily declined after the sixth episode, and Downton had some episodes that were so sloppily edited I couldn’t tell that several years were supposed to have passed. Both are shows that I spend a good deal of time ogling just how pretty everyone is and exclaiming over the talent of all the actors involved, and both are really, really, really well-shot. And both had a lot riding on their finales. Downton had to prove to me it could still bring it (and by “it” I mean “something other than tears of anguish”) and Merlin had to prove to me it remembered how not to suck. Downton brought it. Merlin, on the other hand, kind of made like it was going to bring it, and then chickened out in the last ten minutes.

After three years of being an adoring-if-exasperated fan of Merlin, I should probably know better than to expect things in terms of plot coherency or well thought-out writing, but I can’t help but have faith in Merlin because sometimes it does. Remember the beginning of this season of Merlin? Awesome, right? It wasn’t Downton quality, but it was pretty good. But this finale … well, in condescending parental speak, I’m not mad, show, I’m just disappointed in you. Not because it was a bad one, it’s just that historically, your finales have been so much better than this.

So, Merlin, sit down, take out your pencils, and get ready to take notes, because Downton Abbey has three important things to teach you about how to properly send off a season in style.

(Read more…)


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