The current incarnation of the Camelot myths is on TV as Merlin. It’s a fun, little escape that centers around Uther as king and Arthur and Merlin still teenagers. It requires an enormous amount of suspension of belief to watch. That’s OK. It’s just a little TV show. I’ll give them the use of steel and plate armor though it wasn’t invented until centuries after the setting of the myths. I’ll give the guards leeway in toting halberds and shooting crossbows though they weren’t invented until the 14th century. I can let all that slide. After all, half the show is taken up with Merlin working magic in one way or another. If I can suspend belief for the magic, I can certainly get over the historical faux pas.
Except the tomatoes.
I’ve had an all-day Merlin marathon on while being lazy today and I can’t let the tomatoes go. In one episode, Merlin is covering for Arthur so Arthur can sneak a date with a pretty girl. Uther, the king, catches Merlin in his lies and puts him in the stocks. Naturally, for comic effect, the town’s folk throw vegetables at Merlin, including tomatoes. Merlin even has a line about “bearing a few rotten tomatoes for Arthur’s sake.” No! No frackin way! I can’t let that one go.
Tomatoes aren’t native to England or even Europe, for that matter. Tomatoes are native to the Americas. Europe wouldn’t see a tomato until the late 15th century and even then, it was a widely-held belief that tomatoes were poisonous because the tomato plant is related to the deadly, poisonous nightshade. The tomato’s leaves are, in fact, mildly poisonous. Of course, Native Americans like the Aztec new better and had been enjoying tomatoes for hundreds of years. Who’s the primitive now, Cortez? Oh, right; you’ve invented the halberd by now. Never mind. Care from some golden tomatoes and just plain gold?
But I digress. Back to my rant. I cannot abide Dark Age peasants throwing tomatoes at Merlin in the stocks. It’s just wrong. Maybe if Merlin had created them with magic, I’d give it to them, but he can’t even use his magic to keep the veggies off his face. I’m drafting a strongly worded email to the writers of Merlin in hopes they will ban tomatoes from future episodes. And while I’m at it, the peasants are much too clean. Dark Age peasants should have dirt and ox shit on their faces. I learned that from the amazingly accurate Monty Python and the Holy Grail Oh, this email is getting better and better.
Later, gentle reader, I have email to write.
Dear fascist bully-boy* writers of Merlin,
How dare you write tomatoes into your script, you brainless, keyboard-bashing monkeys…
*All my email salutations are quotations from The Young Ones.