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Merlin Season 1 DVD Review

There’s nothing magic about “Merlin”

“Merlin” is essentially a new spin on a classic tale much like “Smallville” does with Superman. In this 13 episode first season, we are introduced to a very young Merlin as he arrives in Camelot to stay with his uncle Gaius. Merlin, of course, is gifted with special powers. Unfortunately for him, he is unable to use them in public as King Uther has banned magic. Alas, Merlin winds up using his powers in secret in order to fight off evil such as witches. The core of the series, however, deals with his servtitude/friendship with King Arthur (whom Merlin saved). Other plots involve the Black Knight, Merlin’s destiny, magic, a sword fighting tournament with Knight Valiant, a witch, poison, Lancelot, creatures like Griffins and Unicorns, romance, a druid, and bandits.

When I first heard about “Merlin,” I thought it seemed tailor made for a TV series. The Arthurian myths contain everything one could desire from an action/fantasy TV series. Alas, the series doesn’t work. Despite fine performances by the likes of Anthony Stewart Head, Eve Myles, John Hurt (as the voice of the Great Dragon), Alexander Siddig and the underrated Michelle Ryan, the series is deeply flawed.

First off, Colin Morgan (who plays Merlin) is severely miscast as the title character. He is simply not leading man material and has no screen presence whatsoever. He’s as bland an actor as you can find.

Another huge issue with the series is the liberties it takes with the classic myth. Fans of the iconic stories will no doubt be angered by the changes to Guinevere’s character, the character ages, among other things.

Lastly, the writing is certainly lackluster here. The dialogue is cheesy, the stories are routine and predictable, and the show often plays like a goofy “Xena” or “Legend Of The Seeker” type series. Arthurian legend fans deserve better.

Summary: “Merlin” had  a lot of potential, but the show is plagued by weak writing and an unappealing lead actor. Skip it.

The widescreen picture quality is clean looking, but this is clearly a show that would benefit from being in HD (which it apparently will be in season 3).

The Dolby Digital Stereo audio track is solid throughout. It never wows you, but it does its job.


* 8 computer wallpapers.
* Photo gallery.
* 3 video diaries titled Colin Morgan, Colin and Bradley and Cast.
* “The Black Knight”- Another video diary that focuses on the Black Knight on a horse in the hall scene.
* “Behind The Magic”- A 2 part behind-the-scenes featurette containing interviews, set footage, discussions about Arthurian myths and the series, etc.
* Trailers for “Robin Hood,” “Primeval,” “Doctor Who”
* Commentary on “The Dragon’s Call” by producers Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps, “Valiant” by cast members Angel Coulby and Bradley James, “Lancelot” by producer Johnny Capps and director Ed Fraiman, “The Gates Of Avalon” by actors Bradley James, Anthony Head and director Jeremy Webb, “The Beginning Of The End” by actors Colin Morgan, Angel Coulby, Katie McGrath and director Jeremy Webb, “Excalibur” by actors Colin Morgan, Angel Coulby, Richard Wilson and director Jeremy Webb, and “The Moment Of Truth” by actors/actresses Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Angel Coulby and Katie McGrath.. The actor commentaries are hit-and-miss. I enjoyed the tracks with Anthony Head and Richard Wilson, but some of the others are frightfully dull. The producer commentaries offer some insightful behind-the-scenes info. if you want to know more about the show.

May 5, 2010 - Posted by | DVD review | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. The show did take liberties with the myth. It was hard to get behind season 1 at first. But it did grow on us. Sadly, season 2 was a little disappointing. But they DID rebound in season 3.

    Here is our take on season 3 with lots of pics and a little wit if you are interested:


    Season 1 & 2 also have takes.

    Comment by Fortress Guy | January 21, 2011 | Reply

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