Fan Service: A ‘Merlin’ case study

12:30 pm EST, 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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Disney’s released a minute-long clip from Beauty and the Beast, and it’s a great one: Emma Watson performing “Belle.”

Belle skips around town as the townspeople observe the “funny girl” in this uplifting sequence from the movie. You can’t help but get excited for Beauty and the Beast after watching this, and Emma sounds great!

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Disney’s released a minute-long clip from Beauty and the Beast, and it’s a great one: Emma Watson performing “Belle.”

Belle skips around town as the townspeople observe the “funny girl” in this uplifting sequence from the movie. You can’t help but get excited for Beauty and the Beast after watching this, and Emma sounds great!

In related news, the cast and crew kicked off their press tour today in Paris. Disney released the following adorable photo of Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Josh Gad, Luke Evans, director Bill Condon and composer Alan Menken as they start publicizing the movie, which opens in theaters March 17:

Can’t wait to see it!

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

Read full article

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

Free will and humanity. Sacrifice and love. The nature of reality — and even of life itself. Beneath the plot, surprises, and pain, that’s what’s really going on in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spring finale.

That, and the characters who get caught in the middle.

Jed Whedon is Not. Playing. Around.

Executive producer and showrunner Jed Whedon is the man behind the pen and the camera in “Self Control,” and he’s there for a reason. Whedon’s first try at the director’s chair on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is operatic, incisive, and perpetually gut-clenching.

Yes, there are lovely and disturbing vistas, an artistry that comes from a deliberate and careful eye. But more important is the unshakable Whedon impulse that animates Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, that builds through the episode like a cresting tide.

You know that unmistakable sense that someone is laughing behind the scenes? Yeah. That’s why Jed Whedon is here.

What’s next?

Well, that’s a very good question. “Self Control” leaves us with a few razor-like possibilities, all of which lead down spiky corridors of questions. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 is here to leave us thirsty for the season’s final seven episodes, and that’s exactly what it does.

Oh, and to answer your next question…

Cliffhanger?

Uh, yes. Cliffhanger.

Oh boy, cliffhanger.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, “Self Control,” airs Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.

What are your top theories for ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ 4×15?

Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

Read full article

Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

‘Liberty’s Kids’


Liberty’s Kids aired in the early 2000s on PBS. Liberty’s Kids follows three teenagers from varying backgrounds throughout the American Revolution, mentored by Benjamin Franklin. It is geared for children but is still pretty enjoyable for adults. In each episode, the teenagers encounter a significant person or event from the revolution, giving a concise and entertaining history lesson. The show features many important figures throughout the revolution, showing even more presidents than in Hamilton. As one can imagine, Washington is among these.

‘Lincoln’


Lincoln is a 2012, Oscar nominated movie, directed by Steven Spielberg based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals. Instead of a biopic of Lincoln’s entire life, Lincoln is specifically about his passing of the 13th amendment. Essentially directed between each of his science fiction blockbusters, Spielberg also made many significant historical movies, Lincoln among them. Lincoln not only shows his power as a president, but also humanizes him through an Oscar winning performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.

‘1776’


Hamilton is not the first musical about American history. Thankfully, though, because this way there are other options, one of which is 1776. Even more conveniently, the musical 1776 was adapted into a movie in the early 1970s. Heavily implied by its name, 1776 is about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 1776 definitely has a more classical musical theater vibe than Hamilton. The strange combination of American history and musical theater allows for a humorous yet educational experience. However, as reflective of the history of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Washington is not a character in the musical; yet, it obviously includes many other significant historical figures.

‘The West Wing’ or ‘The American President’


Unlike the other items on this list, these two are about fictional presidents. But it would be nice if they were real. Of the many politically charged movies and television shows by Aaron Sorkin, these two are specifically about presidents. If you have the day off and want to attempt to binge watch seven seasons, then you may want to check out The West Wing. The West Wing follows President Bartlet and his staff and advisors during their time in the White House. If you want a movie to help you transition between Valentine’s Day and President’s Day then The American President is worth watching. It is a romantic comedy about President Shepherd, who falls in love with a lobbyist.

How else will you celebrate President’s Day?