Are you watching NBC's new series Merlin? If not, you should be! It's a British import that has already run its first season in the United Kingdom, where it was quite popular. NBC is hoping that American audiences will like it as much, although why they waited until the summertime to run it (when people are more apt to be on vacation or frolicking outdoors than watching TV) is beyond me. I just so happened to read something about it in a magazine a few days ago; otherwise, I wouldn't have known that it premiered last night, and we would have missed it entirely.
I'm glad that we didn't! It's an imaginative retelling of the Arthurian legend starting from when Arthur was a young man, not yet a king--and Merlin was a newcomer to the court, not yet a fully developed magician and not immediately on good terms with Arthur. There is the potential for years of storylines that incorporate characters that audiences will recognize from Arthurian tales but that tell stories no one has ever heard (e.g., "What might have happened before so-and-so grew up and met Arthur?").
The cast is appealing, the special effects are good, and the stories have, so far (in the two episodes shown last night), completely engaged our whole family. The girls jump during tense moments, laugh at humorous ones, and hide their eyes at moments that smack of romance. It reminds me a bit of Crusoe, a show that we watched together this past winter (remember?) and that also featured a good cast, believable special effects, and self-contained episodes that nevertheless carried forward an overarching plot from the beginning to the end of the series.
Reasonably intelligent family-friendly episodic shows are not the norm on TV these days, so we count ourselves lucky when we find one that we like and can watch together as a family. Check it out; maybe you'll like it, too!