Soap Opera Weekly: Read at Joe’s 6/22/09

Last night’s NBC premiere of the British series MERLIN surprised me by not totally sucking. In fact, I quite liked it. It took me a while to get past the near-total reimagining of the King Arthur legend, but once I accepted the (ludicrous) premise that the key players were teenagers and the castle could be thought of as “Camelot High,” I settled in. The fact that TORCHWOOD’s Eve Myles (Gwen) guested as the baddie in the first story helped reassure me. She completely suppressed her natural Welsh accent, but couldn’t hide that trademark gap in her teeth. I also got past the anachronistic language by telling myself the-powers-that-be simply wanted to be accessible to today’s lazy teens, hence Arthur and Morgana tossing off phrases like, “Thanks,” “See you,” and, “Tell me about it!” Whatever! The other major change in the adaptation was making making Morgana the “ward” of Arthur’s father, King Uther. At a time when American soap operas go out of their way to play up or even just hint at incest (we’re looking at you, GENERAL HOSPITAL), this retooled British import has taken pains to sanitize the incest element from the established Arthur/Morgana relationship that has been part of the established legend for hundreds and hundreds of years.

It was old home week on BURN NOTICE, as THE SHIELD’s former Detective Wagenbach, Jay Karnes, reprised bad guy Brennen, who used Michael’s perpetual sad-sack brother, Nate (Seth Peterson, ex-Robbie, PROVIDENCE), as leverage to force Michael to pull a job. Also, Detective Paxson (Moon Bloodgood, from Terminator Salvation) stepped up her investigation of Michael. Nothing particularly original there, just nice execution of the material, thanks to fine casting.

BURN NOTICE’s lead-out, ROYAL PAINS, however, is on a distinct downturn. The latest episode was a bald-faced clone of HOUSE, with Hank treating a would-be college athlete for a bafflingly mysterious ailment. Would Hank diagnose the problem and save the boy’s life (and football career) before the hour was up? But once again, at least the casting was interesting. GOSSIP GIRLS’ maniacal Eleanor, Margaret Colin (ex-Margo, AS THE WORLD TURNS; ex-Paige, EDGE OF NIGHT) played the sick boy’s also-maniacal mother — the Lady Macbeth behind her senator husband. Colin’s former GOSSIP GIRL co-star, Dreama Walker (she’s Hazel on The CW series and also cameoed on ONE LIFE TO LIVE as Karen and GUIDING LIGHT as Janie) portrayed the senator’s neglected daughter, Melody. If ROYAL PAINS continues to neglect what makes it interesting (the “MacGyver as concierge doctor” angle) in order to ape HOUSE, I won’t take pains to tune in anymore. After all, USA already airs repeats of HOUSE — earlier that same night!

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

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