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Two New Series for the Summer

June 25th, 2009 by Rebecca Harper Editor

This week marked the premiere of two new summer series on Hulu: The Philanthropist, which airs on NBC Wednesdays at 10 p.m., and Merlin, airing on NBC Sundays at 8 p.m.

In last night’s Philanthropist opener, a man tells his life story to a bartender — and apparently, it’s too good to be true, since she doesn’t believe a word he says. The story? He’s Teddy Rist (Rome‘s James Purefoy), a billionaire playboy who was stranded in Africa after slogging vaccines through the jungle.

The role is inspired by an actual philanthropist, Bobby Sager, who puts his money and power to good use by helping others all over the world. But rather than just provide solutions, Sager believes in creating a sense of dignity for the people he’s helping, and “the best way for them to have dignity is through them creating a situation where they can either create a business or have jobs that generate income and also benefit others,” said executive producer Tom Fontana in a recent teleconference. “Bobby’s line to me when I met him was, ‘Yeah, you can teach a man to fish, but if you teach a man to fish, he’s going to eat his fish. But if you teach him how to package the fish and market the fish and ship the fish, he can also get some potatoes and some meat and other things.’ At his heart, he’s a capitalist, and this is true for Teddy Rist, trying to fix the world in an innovative way.”

“This wasn’t a series that used Africa as a backdrop or it wasn’t just nice scenery, it was about those people, right there on the ground,” said star James Purefoy on the same teleconference. “Those are the people we were engaging with on a very, very personal level. And so a lot of the philosophy of the series shot through us, as well, so that we would try and make sure production left things for people and improved their lives.”

If you’re in the mood for some wizardry and a taste of Camelot, check out Merlin, a retelling of the warlock’s story starring Anthony Head (best known here as Giles from Buffy) as King Uther Pendragon and Colin Morgan as a young Merlin.

But this is no stuffy Arthurian tale: “It has romance. It has thrills. It has spills. It has beautiful photography. It has stunning sets, beautiful costumes, and it’s a great thing to watch,” said Head in a recent teleconference. “And you do kind of wonder why it hasn’t been done before.”

This new spin on Merlin approaches the legend with some action and special effects, but also with a sense of humor, too. “As soon as you hear the name Merlin, the immediate sort of image that pops into most people’s heads is a little guy with a beard or with a little serious guy,” Morgan said in a teleconference. “[I had] the opportunity to play Merlin like it’s never been seen before … with a quirkiness and a clumsiness. It’s my first time as a knight.”

Like what you see? Subscribe to the series to have the latest episodes added to your queue automatically, and join in on the discussions to share your thoughts on our new primetime heroes.

Rebecca ()
Editor

Last comment: Jun 27th 2009 3 Comments
  • FormerHuluWatcher says:

    I was a huge proponent of Hulu to other people. Also I am not one of those people who flip out every time something doesn’t go my way but I assure you that your advertisers will no longer have my eyes and ears.

    And I will no longer recommend your site, probably the opposite in fact.

  • Eric says:

    I watched the first part of Merlin and then had to turn it. Wife doesn’t like any magical type shows.

    But, then we watched the Philanthropist together. It was a good start. I love the concept of this show. What would you do if you money was not an issue? Do you have a vision for life that could support it? Would you give back or just live for yourself? I’m anxious to see where they take this show. Cool idea.

  • Michael says:

    Hey, have you seen this news article?
    New details about Michael Jackson’s Death Emerge
    I was wondering if you were going to blog about this…

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