Tuesday, October 25, 2011

James Callis on BBC's Merlin: A Deep Dish Analysis.

("Camelot!" "Camelot!" "Camelot!" "It's only a model.)

I was going to say "deepish" anallysis, but deep dish sounds much funner and fits in with my favorite type of pizza. So we'll go with that. Ahem. This is a very serious post though, really. I'm putting on my academic glasses.

I was kinda hoping that James would play a valiant knight who can carry a damsel in distress - even a very plump one - into safety on his strong arms. But even if Julius Borden is the worst kind of scoundrel and I won't be fainting into his arms anytime soon, I really enjoyed this performance. The role isn't particularly layered, but James can do a lot with it; his expressions and voice add layers to the otherwise slightly two-dimensional character. He uses the gruff "bad guy" voice, but it's not too distracting, because he plays with the intensity. Some lines he almost barks from the throat, while others are slightly more high-pitched, closer to his usual voice. This makes it sound more organic than it has before (say in One Night With the King). Does he sell the evilness though? I find myself asking that, but it might be because I know he's really NOT like that. I find it very hard not to like James, no matter how the character is. So I kinda did like Borden there for a moment. He must have had a really tragic childhood or something, right?

Yes, he's really a good guy deep down. Very deep. Well, if nothing else, he's very handsome! *drool*

Speaking of which, it might have been nice to know a little more about Borden. You get a hint that he and Gaius have a shared past - he cheated Gaius in some big way and disappeared. But we don't find out how exactly. Also, I'd have appreciated more horseback riding. And where's that scene of Gaius climbing over a stone wall? We never see that. (Or maybe I skipped too much of the knights searching him, which was frankly a long boring bit.)

There are also many firsts, like James descending down a rope; jumping over a huge gorge (I'm not entirely sure he did this himself, but still) and climbing up the cliff bank; James shooting, first with some medieval gun thingy and then with a slingshot (hee!) and James waving a huge fiery fire..stick in rage. He's really pretty scary, but if you look upon it as a performance, it's just awesome and fierce.

And amazing faces of course! As Borden, James plays an arrogant, ruthless guy, and his faces range from sneaky to greedy (pictured) to fierce to pleading. It's enjoyable to watch him just for that. (It also makes for particularly good screenshotting!)

This seems to be a one-off episode, not something that would require previous knowledge of the show/myth. Basically, Julius Borden is an old pupil of Gaius* (Merlin's master), and he comes back to town to get a special magical KEY. The key leads to a dungeon containing the FINAL EXISTING DRAGON'S EGG. Merlin, as the last dragon lord, really wants to help with this, and does so against Gaius' ADVICE. Borden is a sneaky bastard and tries to KILL MERLIN, even after Merlin SAVES HIS LIFE. Then, Merlin runs away with the egg and Borden IS BURIED IN RUBBLE. But we don't actually see him die, so maybe he will come back to retaliate?!!! The DRAGON BABY is summoned out of the egg by Merlin, who names him "Aithusa". The dragon is WHITE.

This all sounds rather silly, but the show manages to pull it off with some seriousness, even with the CGI talking dragon. Borden's desire to get the egg is believable, and Merlin's dragon lord self is pretty impressive. However, the show loses some dignity when Merlin REMOVES ARTHUR'S PANTS WITH THE POWER OF HIS EYES. This was a fan favorite moment and OK, if someone removed James' pants, maybe I'd feel the same. But it was a bit, well, not so serious.

There's quite a lot of James, and I've already made a few photo sets over at Fuck Yeah James Callis! and will make more tonight. I've just been delayed slightly by people being wrong on the internet.

Just a quick couple of pictures here, re: his weapons on the show.

Bow and arrow of sorts!

 fire and fiery rage!

And the somewhat less impressive slingshot.

Last but not least - his mighty fists! 

I greatly enjoyed his look for the show, what with the gruffy beard (evil beard?). The hair could have been slightly less cropped, but maybe it was the style of the day. Now I made a promise to not mention certain issues re: his physique, and it seems I am being tested (possibly by the Lords of Kobol). But I will cheat a bit and show you, in picture form, how I feel about his body right now.

* yes, Gaius and Gaius, a joke that has been widely acknowledged. James himself noted it and appreciated the irony in May. I think all the jokes have already been told. Hmm. Two Gaiuses walked into a bar...

(I guess I could have picked a screenshot where Gaius isn't out of focus, but this is a James blog, so let us be partisan.)

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