Merlin: Season 2, Episode 1

The Curse of Cornelius Sigan (4 Apr. 2010)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Family
7.9
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A treasure chamber is unearthed beneath Camelot, the centre-piece being a glowing blue stone in the sarcophagus lid of Cornelius Sigan. Decades earlier, Sigan was executed for sorcery and ... See full summary »

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Title: The Curse of Cornelius Sigan (04 Apr 2010)

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The Dragon (voice)
Simon Nehan ...
Tom
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Cedric
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Sir Geraint
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A treasure chamber is unearthed beneath Camelot, the centre-piece being a glowing blue stone in the sarcophagus lid of Cornelius Sigan. Decades earlier, Sigan was executed for sorcery and died vowing revenge. Greedy Cedric, hearing only of the treasure, comes to Camelot. Learning that Arthur has the one key to the vault, he worms his way into the dim young prince's confidence and steals it, looting the chamber and prying away the stone (which is actually Sigan's wicked soul). Consequently possessed by Sigan's spirit, Cedric takes on his magic powers and animates the castle gargoyles, which terrorize the city. In return for a promise to one day set him free, Merlin acquires extra powers from the Great Dragon and does battle with Cedric, saving Camelot once again. Given what has happened, Uther is more convinced than before that magic is only evil. Written by don @ minifie-1

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4 April 2010 (USA)  »

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Trivia

The mystic runes around the jewel on top of Sigan's casket are actually Kartuli, the language used in the Republic of Georgia in Eastern Europe. There are three extra characters thrown in that are not actually in the Kartuli alphabet, so the runes don't spell any actual words. See more »

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Merlin: Better to serve a good man than rule with an evil one.
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Featured in Breakfast: Episode dated 19 September 2009 (2009) See more »

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Mediocre series two opener to a mediocre series
22 September 2009 | by (Clydebank, Scotland) – See all my reviews

After a half decent yet far from miraculous first series, series 2 of "Merlin" the latest reinvention of the story surrounding the famous wizard of old British lore, and with the BBC these days having so much inarguable success with the science fiction/fantasy genre after "Doctor Who" returned successfully back to our television screens in 2005. It's safe to say that if It's to keep afloat amongst the other series of this ilk that have been bombarded by the BBC (Torchwood, Being Human, Survivors) it's standard of writing will need to be of impeccable quality. Something that the series writers have st-rived yet had the inability to achieve. With "The Curse of Cornelius Sigan" we have a moderately diverting if some what less than sublime premiere episode to the new series. To its credit it does have some welcoming credentials which were to have been found through out the last series. Admirable production values, adequate direction, a first rate cast of actors, young and old and exceptional special effects, at least by the standards of the BBC. But where this episode is let down primarily is by its script which while not awful is anything but exceptional.

The main problem is that its plot is pretty derivative. Workers excavating an ancient tomb which has been discovered beneath Camelot flee in terror when one of them is despatched by a booby trap. When Gaius, (The ever reliable Richard Wilson) the court physician and friend and father figure to Merlin, inspects the tomb on hearing of what befell the worker. He uncovers large heart shaped jewel amongst the treasure which is also contained within the burial chamber. Gaius deduces that the tomb belonged to Cornelius Sigan, a formidable sorcerer who was sentenced to be executed centuries ago by the then king of Camelot. The loyal physician attempts to warn King Uther (Anthony Head) that he believes the heart shaped jewel holds the soul of the dead necromancer. But Uther is unwilling to believe such a tale and only when Cedric (Mackenzie Crook), a wily thief sneakily worms his way in to the services of Prince Arthur (Bradley James), the intent of which is to steal the keys to the tomb which the king's son has in his possession. It is then all hell breaks loose when Cedric is unwittingly possessed by Cornelius when attempting to raid his tomb. To say that all hell breaks loose soon after would be something of an understatement and it falls to the title hero, Merlin to save the day once again.

As I have noted the plot as mentioned above is rather uninspiring. The whole workers or a thief unwittingly releasing an evil force from an ancient burial place is fairly conventional and while it's serviceable enough that it carries for the forty-five minute running time of the episode you'd think that a professional writer, particularly for the BBC could have come up with a more exemplary piece of sublime storytelling. However its premise does mean that we are treated to the welcome inclusion of two villains, played with ingenious versatility by Mackenzie Crook, formally of "The Office" fame. As Cedric he's effortless slimy and irksome, worming his way in to the good books of Prince Arthur at the expense of young Merlin's dignity and self respect. While contrastingly he is full of formidable presence and malignant sinister magnetism when the plot changes course and Sigan steals the thief's body. But sadly once that is achieved the evil sorcerer predominantly takes a back seek for the majority of the episode. Allowing for bravura special effects incorporated to bring to life the monstrosities that Sigan unleashes upon Camelot. And when the dust is settled and inevitably he is thwarted. You can't help but think that it is something of a shame as there would have been ample scope to have the antagonist return as a recurring threat. And then there's Uther who is so complacent and pig headed that even though through out the first series his kingdom was beset by all manner of magical horrors, he refuses to buy in to the notion that the curse that Gaius warns him of is anything but superstition. It seems nothing more than a convenient plot contrivance to further the story so that the right precautions aren't taken and that Camelot is thus thrown in to utter chaos. While Merlin's vain attempts to convince Arthur that Cedric has been possessed by Sigan lack any subtlety or finesse, particularly when you consider that the young Wizard has had to utilize these attributes to keep his own magical talents a secret.

But in amongst the less than savoury aspects of the episode, besides Mackenzie Crooks excellent performance the episode isn't without it's moments that are to be enjoyed. Merlin reluctantly being forced to consult the magical Dragon who he turned his back on at the end of the last series, which viewing the outcome should lead to some intriguing developments later in the show's run. And we see the first glimmers of what should be the inevitable blossoming romance between Gwen and Arthur although it's only very briefly touched upon and hinted at.

Overall, TCOCS is a very typical opening to what has thus far been a very typical series. Far from illustrious but not without it's merits either. And while the cast slog their guts out to attempt to elevate the story above the humdrum. They don't totally succeed. Never the less there are worse ways to waste forty-five minutes of your time. Like watching an episode of ITV's dismal "Demon's".


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