Open Letter to NBC: Merlin? Really? That Crusty Magician's the Best You've Got?


OK. We take back what we said yesterday about Glee, because at that point we had no idea that you were planning to launch three new scripted series this summer that make a small screen version of High School Musical sound like a genius idea. Seriously. We’d rather be watching not funny reruns of the current season of The Office — and that’s saying something.

After the jump we dissect your corporate press release and point out where you obviously went wrong. And we don’t even work in television!

1. “The Philanthropist” chronicles the heroic adventures of a billionaire playboy turned vigilante philanthropist. James Purefoy (“Rome”) stars as Teddy Rist, a successful tycoon whose life is forever changed after rescuing a young boy during a hurricane in the Nigerian town he was visiting. Rist is spontaneous and impulsive and quickly decides to channel his passion, power and money into helping those in need.

In this economy, a show that centers on “a billionaire playboy” is the equivalent of those treat-filled snack machines you wave in the faces of the contestants on The Biggest Loser. The only way this show would work is if it was reality based, and Rist was channeling his passion (which sounds vaguely sexual) to give real poor people money. NEXT!

2. “Merlin” is a new 13-part drama series that updates the story of the infamous sorcerer of Arthurian legend for a new audience in the mythical city of Camelot, in a time before history began. In this fantastical realm, Merlin is a young man gifted with extraordinary magical powers who arrives in the kingdom and quickly makes enemies, including the heir to Uther’s crown, the headstrong Prince Arthur. But guided by Uther’s wise physician, Gaius, Merlin is soon using his talents not just to survive but also to unlock Camelot’s mystical secrets.

Sorry, we’re too busy looking for some missing six-sided dice to properly rip into this horrible idea. Just the name makes us wince.

3. The Listener” centers on Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik, “The Timekeeper”), a 25-year-old paramedic who has a big secret — he’s a telepath. Until now, Toby kept his ability hidden, exploring its possibilities only with his long time mentor and confidant, Dr. Ray Mercer (Colm Feore, “24: Redemption”). As he makes the rounds with his energetic paramedic partner — “Oz” Bey (Ennis Esmer, “Young People F*#king”), “The Listener” follows Toby as he tries to help people in crisis, and in the process, unravel the truth about his past. While his professional life is in check, Toby’s personal life could use its own rescue. And with the help of Detective Charlie Marks (Lisa Marcos, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”) and his E.R. doctor/ex-girlfriend Olivia Fawcett (Mylène Dinh-Robic, “Da Vinci’s City Hall”), Toby realizes his gift can help others.

Don’t you already have a show just like this called Medium? Also, kudos to the NBC staffer who came up with the poetic phrase “energetic paramedic partner.” Not.