A while ago (a month or two, perhaps) in the glow of Netflix and Amazon Prime and whatever all those other streaming apps are at the bottom of my Samsung, I spotted what appeared to be a very literarily worthwhile title, so clicked “Play,” and waited for something to appear that would remind me of the lovely voice of Dylan Thomas, and his inimitable wit and warmth as evidenced in “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”
It was not to be. Even though the title on the selection screen (whatever it’s called) said “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” the actual title of the piece was “A Child’s Christmases in Wales,” the plurality being crucial. It was a film (from Wales, right enough, but fictional) about a kid’s experiences growing up in “the valleys” as an only child and how every Christmas was pretty much a re-run of the one previous, with the same wretched uncle and cousin staying with them and the same … god, the same everything. In the first “episode” it’s revealed that they have to walk a half-mile or so to make a phonecall because “Da” is too cheap to have a phone in the house. This is in the 1980s. The point at all is that life in Wales in the 1980s must needs have been stultifyingly dead.
So in the current New Yorker there’s a photo series called something like pre-pubescent fashion in Wales. And the pictures are of a time and place (the time is “now”) where incredible nothing is happening. And it’s not as if the folks in the pictures are all unaware, thinking life’s a gas. Nuh-uh. They are visibly aware of the nothing happening around them.
I watched a few episodes of a britcop show called “Hinterland” a while ago and it was pretty engaging, well shot, etc. but it was very, very clear that this (in the opinion of the filmmakers at least, and I think they were Welsh) is the epitome of the williwaws, which is someplace that you have to go THROUGH the boondocks to get to.
So… what about Merlin, then?