Thursday, August 22, 2013

TV Series Review: Merlin

Show: The Adventures of Merlin by the BBC
Genre: Drama
Seasons: Five
Netflix: Yes
Starring: Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Anthony Head
Rating: Two thumbs up

I've always been in love with the King Arthur story. I've devoured many books on the subject, all with a different spin or take of the story. I've even been to what is supposed to be the remnants of the Isle of Avalon where he was allegedly buried! Ah, the myths and stories that float around that place (Glastonbury, England) are awesome!

So when,  a few years ago, I learned about the BBC show, Merlin, King Arthur's wizard, I was intrigued. Admittedly, it took me awhile to actually start watching the show and I think it was into its second or third season when I jumped on board. But I inhaled them, and then waited along with everyone else for these final two seasons.

And final it is. They've ended it! So sad! I'm going to so miss these guys! Wow, I hope they show up in something else, they are WAY too good of actors to go unnoticed!

Anyway, back to Merlin.
Merlin and Arthur

So this show gives yet another spin to the familiar tale. Here, we have Arthur as a young prince still, living with his father, Uther, and his stepsister (or is it foster sister here?) Morgana. Then young Merlin comes along to be an apprentice to the court physician, Gaius.

Well, Merlin and Arthur's paths cross one day and a most hilarious exchange follows after which  Arthur ends up making Merlin his servant boy... where he remains for the whole rest of the series. Arthur doesn't know that Merlin has magic (and is in fact the most powerful wizard living!) because of course, magic is outlawed! This makes for a very tricky relationship indeed.
Arthur and Gwen
And Gwen with Lancelot

They stay true to the old legend, for the most part. There is Lancelot and he does woo Gwen (who also happens to be a servant, Lady Morgana's lady in waiting) but that story ends a bit differently than the normal one, just in case you wondered.

And there is Mordred and for a long time we don't know where his heart lies, and that is the story that takes up much of this last season, and yes, it's very scary and nail biting! Morgana is nice at first, but quickly turns rotten to the core, just as we knew she would all along!

Mordred and Morgana

There's also a handful of robust and lovely knights! All with their different and awesome personalities. And a round table, and a beautiful castle and kingdom called Camelot, and Tristan and Isolde show up and the Lady of the Lake, and Excalibur and oh so many wonderful bits of the story are here!

Arthur with his knights

It's fun to have Merlin and Arthur be young and silly and strong and handsome. There are moments were Merlin does have to be old though, and those episodes are the funniest of the lot!

Anyway, if you haven't checked this series out yet, and you love stuff done by the BBC and you love old ancient myths and legends from England, and you love great acting and story lines, then what ARE you waiting for? (All seasons are on Netflix now!)

Seriously, all my gushing can't do it justice.

Here's a trailer for the first season:

And here's some clips of some of the funny bantering moments between Arthur and Merlin, because that is truly what makes this show so great, this bantering!


  1. Interesting review. I watched the first two seasons of this on Netflix and then lost interest. I think I just got tired of the same rise and fall. Something bad happens, somehow magic's involved, Merlin might get blamed, or might not, and then through some miracle Merlin solves the problem. Or maybe I just got tired of Uther and Morgana.

    1. Stephanie: It changes. It gets darker. But yeah, it does tend to have that formula throughout.

  2. I just watched this whole series this summer and it was so fun! I love the relationship between Merlin and Gaius.

  3. This looks fun! I'll have to add it to the instant queue!

    1. Kami: Let me know if you watch and what you think!

  4. Spoiler alert . . .

    But what about the ending? The disastrously bad, failure-to-deliver, horribly depressing, tried-to-be-a-redemption-tale-but-failed-miserable, everyone-acts-like-a-moron ending?

    Worst. Betrayal. Ever.

    1. Heidi: You sound like my sister! And it makes me think... did I miss something? Because I'm not feeling betrayed at all. Sad, yes. Tragic, yes! But betrayed? No. This ended exactly how I knew it would, how I thought they would HAVE to end it, and this whole season was leading up to that! So... what am I missing? The bit about (SPOILER!!!!) his magic being revealed and how they didn't play on that more? Or something else? Gah, I feel like I'm so clueless and unobservant sometimes!

    2. I like that the ending stayed true to the original myths and legends of King Arthur. I would have been disappointed if it had ended with a gushy happily ever after ending.

  5. I just saw these at the library yesterday and considered checking out the first season ... but it was not available! I will be keeping my eye out for it though! Looks good!

  6. Well said! I really enjoy this version of a young Arthur and especially a young Merlin. I was so sad when it ended. I've grown rather attached to the characters. I'm now watching Robin Hood which I find much to my liking as well.



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