Fan Service: A ‘Merlin’ case study

12:30 pm EDT, July 18, 2014

The term fan service has pretty much become synonymous with shirtless-scene/half-dressed/low necklines. But really, isn’t fan service all about giving fans what they want?

Okay, so most fans are happy with any of the above three methods! But every now and then show runners should mix it up a little. That way, it’s kept exciting for the fans, and the critics won’t pass the series over as just-another-show-for-the-fan girls/boys. It’s a win-win situation.

Let’s take the BBC series Merlin – which definitely was adept at utilising the traditional methods of fan service – as an example and see what other things the series could have utilised to service fans.

Ten other things that could have happened/increased on Merlin as fan service:

1. More ‘less is more’:

Yes, we’re talking those changing-behind-the-screen scenes (the legitimate ones where the camera didn’t take the audience on the other side of the screen), the shirts open down the front (again, the legitimate ones. Like Arthur and Lancelot while they’re running about dueling with broomsticks. Yeah your shirt fastening can totally come undone in that) and Merlin with his sleeves rolled up.

2. More Arthur and Gwen conversations:

When the Arthur/Gwen relationship was established in season 2 it was fantastic how it was the anti-fairy-tale love story…where some prince doesn’t fall in love at first sight. Or some damsel doesn’t get rescued by a prince and falls for him in the process. All of that culminated into the Epic Kiss. Which was nice and wonderful but where to go from there? More hearty conversations between the characters is the way to go! Also with regards to Gwen, often her awesome moments were underpinned by her low-cut dresses, contradicting her otherwise sensible-girl character…which means in this case non-conventional fan service was particularly apt!

3. More Merlin/Morgana tense moments:

Merlin can’t open up to any girl because he has magic. Then his crush Morgana has magic. But he can’t go near her because she’s destined to be evil…because she feels she can’t open up to anyone. About her magic. Merlin and Morgana truly had the grounds for an ‘it’s complicated’ relationship!

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4. The hot doctor/chemistry guy:

Sure, Merlin couldn’t show off with his magic, but what about his medical skills? We did see a glimpse of him as a doctor in a season 4 episode but more would have been great fan service. Plus, Gaius does have all those test tubes lying around, Merlin could have been swirling them around more often and truly taken on the hot-nerd persona!

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5. Arthur with a book:

That would’ve been impossible right? I mean he was the clueless, jock right? Nope. On several occasions, Arthur gives some very confident accounts of Camelot’s history. Now, the history was probably skewed to make the Pendragons look cool, but the point is, the kid listened to his tutors at some point. Yeah he plays with the quill a lot – which is a sure sign of a non-nerd (however, makes for great fan service), but clearly some sort of studious activities went in to give him the knowledge in the fields he needs.

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6. The lads playing football:

Considering football/soccer has its roots in medieval Europe. Okay, so maybe King Arthur and his knights wouldn’t exactly be playing ‘mob football,’ but all the lads could have still kicked some goals in the training yard. And with several football enthusiasts in the cast, this would have been fan service and actor-service.

7. Extracurricular activities:

Several behind-the-scenes material has revealed some of the other talents of the actors –such as Angel’s singing/teaching herself the guitar and Bradley’s artistic abilities. There could have been a ‘holiday episode’ (lasting only five minutes before the bad guys closed in, of course) where Gwen could have been playing the lute and singing a pretty song and Arthur could have been painting (but maybe not quite painting Gwen singing – that would prove to be too close to Peeta Mellark…) There was even a lute hanging around in the background every now and again on Merlin…

8. That Skipped Wedding:

We witnessed Uther’s nuptials to the Troll/Catrina. We saw Arthur and Elena’s almost-wedding. Whatever happened to The Official couple’s much anticipated wedding? (as far as I can see, Gwen’s crowning at the end of season 4 was just that – a coronation, not a wedding. Plus it was changed from its original version in Morgana’s dream. Possibly to pass it off as a wedding.)

9. What happened to those dogs?

We’ve heard at least two mentions of Arthur’s dogs. There could have been plenty of Prince Eric-esque scenes (refer to Disney’s The Little Mermaid) with the canines.

10. Properly-dressed is the new shirtless:

Remember season one where everyone was fully dressed? (okay, minus the two shirtless scenes in the very first and last episodes. And Lady Morgana’s dresses being a little too eye catching at times. But hey, she did have a bit of a rebel streak, so it kind of fit her character.) Did that stop the audience from swooning and/or fanclubbing over the show? No.

And I for one was quite a fan of Arthur’s jacket/coat collection!

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Major changes coming to ‘Sense8’ season 2

And I'm excited about what happens next.

11:00 am EDT, May 30, 2016

Sense8 is currently in production for their second season, and they’ve gotten pretty far. Here are some important things you need to know about what’s to come for your favorite cluster!

Ever since Sense8 debuted on Netflix a year ago I’ve been obsessed. Not only because it was such a fantastic premise of connecting 8 people, but because it was so immensely diverse and represented so many people from all over the world. Now that we’ve got a season 2, it’s about time to start learning what it’ll be about.

There’s some major things about Sense8 season 2 that are going to be dramatically different, and we’ve gotten an update on what our favorite characters will be up to this season thanks to BuzzFeed.

There’s only 1 Wachowski left

One of the biggest draws of Sense8 was the fact that it was a Wachowski sister production. These sisters have brought us The Matrix and Cloud Atlas so we knew when we heard that last name that this was going to be an epic series.

This year, only Lana Wachowski is staying on to direct the show. Lilly Wachowski is taking the much-deserved time off after having just come out as transgender in March, and is using the time to focus on herself. Should the show return to Netflix for a third season then she’ll probably return.

The return of only one sister isn’t something that should affect the show too much, and I’m sure if it does then any changes will be welcome and give the show a fresh vibe — not that it needs it.

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Capheus has been re-cast

For those who enjoyed Capheus’ story in Kenya the most prepare yourselves for a major change. Due to disagreements between Lana and Aml Ameen, who portrays Capheus in season 1, Ameen left the show before production began.

Capheus’ story isn’t one you can just replace and end so suddenly, so instead of writing him out Wachowski opted instead to re-cast him. Toby Onwumere will now play the part.

For those of you concerned with any disagreement between Ameen and Wachowski being over her being transgender, Jamie Clayton, who plays Nomi, was adamant about stopping that rumor.


The good news is that Onwumere has been completely welcomed by the cast and he felt immediately connected to them upon meeting them at dinner for the first time. This makes me more confident that his chemistry with the actors will show on screen, which is one of the reasons I love Sense8 so much – the chemistry has been fantastic in every episode with all 8 actors.

But these changes can be amazing!

Even though they’re major changes from how the show operated last year, I feel like the new single director and the new actor is going to bring a welcome fresh take for the new season.

Every show can use something new in each season they come back just to keep it interesting and unique every year. I feel like, thanks to these changes made to the cast and crew, the story isn’t going to have to change too drastically just for the sake of change. Obviously it’s going to probably take to places we don’t expect, but that will be because the story is naturally progressing, instead of them trying to change actors and plots already set.

Are you excited for season 2 of ‘Sense8’

Hollywood reacts to ‘Begin Again’ director’s candid criticism of Keira Knightley’s acting skills

Should the trust between actors and directors ever be broken?

10:33 am EDT, May 30, 2016

After Begin Again director John Carney’s candid comments about Keira Knightley’s acting went viral, Hollywood has taken to Twitter to defend the British actress.

In case you’ve somehow not heard the story, here’s the sitch:

Over the weekend, The Independent released an interview with Irish director John Carney, in which he had some harsh words for former colleague Keira Knightley.

The pair worked together on the 2013 musical rom-com Begin Again, where Knightley starred opposite Mark Ruffalo as a promising young folk singer recovering from a broken heart.

Carney evidently wasn’t satisfied with Knightley’s performance, claiming she “always has an entourage that follow her everywhere so it’s very hard to get any real work done.”

Related: Exclusive: Keira Knightley, Joe Wright talk Anna Karenina and the choice to set it in the world of theater

Going on to praise both Ruffalo and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine’s performances, Carney said, “I think that that’s what you need as an actor; you need to not be afraid to find out who you really are when the camera’s rolling. Keira’s thing is to hide who you are and I don’t think you can be an actor and do that.”

“I like to work with curious, proper film actors as opposed to movie stars,” he continued. “I don’t want to rubbish Keira, but you know it’s hard being a film actor and it requires a certain level of honesty and self-analysis that I don’t think she’s ready for yet and I certainly don’t think she was ready for on that film.”

Carney concluded, “I learned that I’ll never make a film with supermodels again.”

Now, Carney clearly had a frustrating experience working with Knightley on this film, and his distinction between ‘proper film actors’ and ‘movie stars’ may be legitimate in theory. Begin Again certainly wasn’t the great critical hit that Carney’s Once had been, and at the time of the movie’s release, Keira Knightley herself admitted that she struggled with the material, not being a singer-songwriter herself and having no great appreciation for music.

“It’s terrible. I know nothing about music whatsoever,” she told The Guardian. “I was always more into reading and drama. I was such a geek. … There’s often a huge link between music and memory. And I’ve got such a bad memory.”

But the issue Hollywood professionals have with Carney’s comments seem to have less to do with Knightley’s specific performance, and more about the fact that Carney made these comments at all.

Ava DuVernay certainly makes a great point about why Carney should have stayed silent:

Both industry professionals and notable journalists have joined DuVernay in speaking out against Carney. Here are some of their reactions:

All the same, there are some that find Carney’s candidness refreshing.

What do you think? Should John Carney have held back his criticism of Keira Knightley out of professional courtesy? Or was he right to share his negative experience?

John Carney rose to international fame with Once in 2007, and this year he’s coming out with a musical drama titled Sing Street.

Spectre director Sam Mendes is officially not returning for more James Bond movies.

While we wait for (almost certain) confirmation that Daniel Craig won’t reprise his role as 007 in the next James Bond film, we can at least contend with the knowledge that Sam Mendes will not direct Bond 25.

The two-time James Bond director came on board the franchise for the wildly successful Skyfall, but his follow-up Spectre was not considered as great of a success.

Even before Spectre‘s release, Mendes was talking about quitting the all-consuming franchise, saying at the time, “I don’t think I could go down that road again. You do have to put everything else on hold.” But it was only during a Welsh literature festival that he finally confirmed his departure.

Related: Quantico’s Priyanka Chopra doesn’t want to be a Bond Girl, she wants to be Bond

“It was an incredible adventure. I loved every second of it, but I think it’s time for somebody else [to direct],” said Mendes, as quoted via The Sydney Morning Herald. “I’m a storyteller. And at the end of the day, I want to make stories with new characters.”

Bond 25 is likely to be completely new chapter of the franchise, with Daniel Craig set to follow Mendes’ lead and officially announce his departure soon. Everyone’s been expecting him to bow out ever since his controversial promotional campaign for Spectre, and it’s even more likely now that his two-time collaborator has called it quits.

On the speculation about who might replace Craig, Mendes says, “I can guarantee that whatever happens next it will not be what you expect.”

“[Bond producer] Barbara Broccoli chooses who is going to be the next Bond, end of story. And without that there would have been no Daniel Craig because public support for Daniel was zero. It was her saying: ‘That man over there, he’s going to change the whole tenor, I’m going to cast him.’ That turned the whole thing on its head,” says Mendes.

Rumor has it that Tom Hiddleston is in talks to be the next James Bond, but until we learn more, we can speculate away as we wish! It’s also time to start making those Bond 25 director wishlists. Anyone know if Ava DuVernay is available?