“Silver people on the shoreline, let us be…”

O tacky Arthuriana, where would be without thee? Someone needs to tell NBC to return the sword to its stone and back away slowly. Rue this news from Variety:

NBC has acquired a series take on the Camelot legend called “Merlin” that will anchor the net’s winter Sunday sked at 8 p.m. FremantleMedia is distributing the series, which was produced by Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group for the BBC. Shine recently acquired the Silverman-founded Reveille production outfit.

Cast of “Merlin” includes Anthony Head (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”). Skein just began production for the BBC, which plans to air it in the fall.

I may not be able to recall all of my Latin paradigms, or the year of the Battle of Lepanto, or what I had for breakfast this morning, but I do remember that American network TV has already limped down this benighted road.

Behold: “Mr. Merlin,” the 1981 series in which the famous wizard runs a garage under a false identity in San Francisco while taking an awkward teenage boy under his wing. (This same concept would be updated and relaunched two decades later under a new title: “To Catch a Predator” with Chris Hansen.)

You can see the pain-inducing promo for “Mr. Merlin” here and the opening credits here; fast-forward to the 8:19 mark.

Every few years, you can count on American television to dabble in this sort of half-hearted, quasi-medieval schlock. While you’re over at YouTube, don’t miss the opening credits for “Wizards and Warriors,” the 1983 series starring Jeff “Celebrity Rehab” Conaway and co-starring his hair, which is feathered like the plume of a mighty falcon. Or, if you can stand it, take another look at “Covington Cross,” the show you adored in 1992 if the Skye in your world was always the color of Ione. Then ponder “Merlin,” and despair…

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