The Winter King (2023)

First trailer:

Couple of notes:

  • I find it incredibly weird that Derfel is not mentioned once and if he’s shown, I have no way of knowing who is Arthur and who is Derfel. The book is based on Derfel, but this seems to be all Arthur–who only shows up, in the book, briefly at times (IIRC).
  • Merlin is apparently is Black. Now you can talk about inclusivity and diversification in film and TV all you want, but this makes even less sense than the arguments that swirlved around it for Rings of Power or Fire and Blood (which mostly worked, I thought), because the book already has a character that is Black, has a prominent role, and has all sorts of reactions to his skin color throughout his encounters in Britain.

I will definitely wind up watching it, but the decision-making process in casting can be a little weird I suppose. Now I have to figure out if I have MGM+.

— Alan


So that definitely made me less excited for this than I was before. Black Merlin doesn’t bother me so much (you want to defend it, it can be defended - it’s not as if Merlin is a real historical person - although the real reason is obviously representation), but there’s just nothing in this trailer of what makes the books (IMO) actually good - i.e., the grounded, semi-realistic (if ideologically skewed) take on the Arthurian legends and the understanding that the best thing about the Arthurian legends is rarely Arthur himself.

I guess one can hope that the trailer is basically playing the name-recognition game to try and sell it to those not familiar with Cornwell’s trilogy. Considering how few actually good movies/shows about Arthur there have been, I’m not convinced that’s actually a winning strategy, but I guess it’s an understandable one.

The other promo materials focus on the King Arthur actor and how this is the story of King Arthur’s journey to become a King, bla bla, is a lot more concerning… not really convinced the producers of this understand the source material at all.

It starts tonight (on MGM) but prime states first episode is free.

I think I will read the book first.

I’m kind of glad I didn’t reread the books recently in preparation for this series. (I wasn’t aware of it until this thread, and then forgot to start the books again.) This will help me buffer my expectations a bit, I’m hoping, although I’ve read the books a few times.

I’m not so attached to Cornwell’s books that I’ll be making a close comparison, and I’m open-minded enough to be enchanted by whatever else they might introduce to the mix. I do hope they manage to capture the magic and mystery of Cornwell’s vision, though.

Well, the initial reviews for this don’t seem to be terrible, so there is hope yet. Anyone watching it yet?

The user reviews are of course the predictable hot garbage that you inevitably get with a multi-racial cast.

Watched it last night. It was fine. Looked like the setting and clothes and everything was more recent than The Last Kingdom but that took place 300 years later. But ymmv.

Took me a while but finally realized…Fitz!!! Looking a little small for a warrior badass. But he has little screen time so he could still prove himself a bit more action-hero than he first comes across. The dude who appears like he will be the primary protagonist has minimal charisma and doesn’t come across heroic either. But, again, not much to go on yet.

Could barely understand most of the first scene. But after that dialogue wasn’t too much of a problem.

Lots of setting up plot wise. Not much action or anything else really.

Merlin was kind of weak I thought. Just didn’t have the powerful presence I think this show is trying to give Merlin’s character. The Druid gal was pretty good though.

I may do a trial of MGM+ and catch the next ep or so, but its yet something I have to watch.

Yeah, Derfel and Merlin were both a bit of a disappointment, but not terrible. Arthur…will have to wait and see, but he was fine I guess?

Overall I have no strong opinions, too early to say much. But I do have a sinking feeling that their weak interpretation of Derfel and Merlin will really hurt over time.

Haven’t watched yet. Supposedly the show shifts over from Arthur to Derfel as it goes on.

Merlin is… in the novels I’d say he might be perhaps the weakest interpretation of Merlin in any Arthurian story. It’s almost exactly how you’d imagine Cornwell to interpret Merlin.

— Alan

I’ll take your word for it, but I thoroughly enjoyed Merlin in the books. Perhaps a little cliche, but I found him very entertaining. This Merlin, well, let’s see what he gets up to from here and I’ll weigh in more.