Codename Wizard - the Sword in the Stone by Chris Pearson

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Entersoundman at, 8 March 2012
In the wake of box-office blockbusters like Kingdom of Heaven (2006), which recreate the Arthurian era of heroism for modern audiences, complete with smooke-filled forests, hirsute knights and white-clad damsels, I've often wondered what it would be like to transpose King Arthur to the modern era, and put him in a situation where he and his knights have to fight a technological as well as a physical battle.
Chris Pearson's drama offers an answer. In an ingenious move, he has Arthur involved in a conflict which, by all accounts, is one that seeks to engulf an entire community. In a clever use of visual contrast, he uses radio announcers to tell listeners about the ensuing conflict, rather like Orson Welles did all those years ago while broadcasting War of the Worlds on American radio. Alas, however, today's listeners are not as gullible as their ancestors over seven decades ago; they are hardly likely to accept fiction as the real thing. Nonetheless Pearson's strategy does invest the drama with the kind of immediacy that grabs our attention.
In this changed situation, the knights retain the kind of qualities they always possessed - loyalty, bravery, and a determination to see right enacted at all costs. At the end of this first episode, Arthur finds Excalibur - but in a way that we do not expect.
Pearson's use of aural detail is striking; to say the least. I never expected The Ink Spots' classic "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" to appear as an accompanying track. I do hope he and his cast get the chance to produce a second episode of this drama - as they have promised at the end of this episode. I'd love to hear it.