Set in the mythical city of Camelot, in a time before history began, this magical adaptation of the Arthurian legend follows young Merlin's enthralling encounters with the young Prince Arthur.
The kingdom of Camelot is a realm of legendary beasts and mysterious peoples. In this dangerous world, magic has been banned by the ruthless tyrant, Uther Pendragon. Merlin, who was born with extraordinary magical powers, is taken as an apprentice to the court physician Gaius and as manservant to the headstrong Prince Arthur. However, with the practice of magic punishable by death, Merlin must take care when and where he uses his talents.
The Great Dragon, who lies imprisoned under the castle, informs Merlin that his gift has a purpose - to aid him in his destiny to protect Prince Arthur, who will one day lead a great and just kingdom. But Merlin has already discovered that following his destiny is not always an easy task.
Whatever the future holds, Merlin, along with Arthur, Morgana and Gwen, face many great dangers and exciting challenges as terrifying beasts and ruthless enemies stalk the kingdom of Camelot...
Episode One: Merlin, a young country boy, arrives at the great city of Camelot to find a young man at the gallows - the result of King Uther outlawing magic in his kingdom. As Merlin makes his way to find Gaius, the Court Physician, he begins to realise that the world he has entered is full of danger.
Episode Two: Valiant arrives in Camelot intent on winning the infamous sword tournament. As a disgruntled Merlin gets to grips with his arduous duties as Arthur's new servant, he notices the fighter has an unfair advantage.
Episode Three: As a magical plague takes a deathly grip on Camelot, Merlin takes pity on Gwen, whose father is dying with the disease. Evading a curfew, Merlin risks his life to deliver a magical power to cure her father. However, his pleasure soon turns to shock as Gwen is arrested for using magic.
Episode Four: Suspecting it is poisoned, Merlin drinks from Prince Arthur's cup. He falls into a com and can only be saved from certain death by a flower that grows deep within the forest of Balor. Arthur is ready to defy the King and embark on the quest, but is he prepared for the trials and danger he will encounter?
Episode Five: A great fighter by the name of Lancelot arrives in Camelot, but despite his bravery and skill, his ambition to be a knight is thwarted by his low birth - only Arthur and Merlin appear to recognise his true worth. Meanwhile a terrifying winged beast approaches Camelot leaving the kingdom in desperate need of a hero.
Episode Six: When a physician, the scarred Edwin, saves the dying Morgana and impresses Uther with his skills he is soon supplanting Gaius's position in the court. But soon Merlin and Gaius make shocking discoveries about this mysterious stranger.
Episode Seven: When Arthur becomes besotted with a mysterious girl he could lose more than just his heart.
Episode Eight: A young druid boy, on the run in Camelot, is condemned to death by Uther, but Merlin, Arthur and Morgana feel compelled to help him.
Episode Nine: A mysterious Black Knight crashes his horse in through a window to challenge the knights of Camelot to single combat.
Episode Ten: Merlin's village is under attack from a ruthless group of bandits but can Merlin, Arthur, Morgana and Gwen save them?
Episode Eleven: When Arthur kills a unicorn - a prize beast - his knights celebrate, but the prince has inadvertently brought a curse upon Camelot.
Episode Twelve: When Gwen's father is arrested by Uther for helping a sorcerer, Morgana reveals a surprising side of her character.
Episode Thirteen: As Arthur's life hangs in the balance, Merlin is the only one who can save him - but at what price?
- Behind the Scenes
- Cast Video Diaries
- Audio Commentaries
- Photo Galleries
The creators of Merlin
position their hero as the original Harry Potter: a headstrong young wizard with mixed feelings about--and sometimes outright hostility toward--the destiny that's been thrust upon him. Merlin
is a reboot of Arthurian legend, starting when all the heroes and sorcerous folk were teenagers, bursting with hormones and wrestling with the powers-that-be, particularly Arthur's heavy-handed father, Uther Pendragon (Anthony Head, best known as Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
), a benevolent tyrant who's banished magic from Camelot. Merlin (Colin Morgan, an impish lad with prominent ears) comes to the kingdom with high hopes and innate magical powers. He's taken under the wing of the court physician, Gaius (Richard Wilson, One Foot in the Grave
), but additionally becomes the servant of young Arthur (Bradley James), a handsome and talented fighter who's also a bully and a snob. Rounding out the main cast are Morgana (Katie McGrath), who will one day be Merlin's foe but is now Uther's ward, and Gwen (Angel Coulby), a.k.a. Guinevere, the woman who will one day be the center of a legendary love triangle--but who is now Morgana's maid. Clearly, Merlin
wants to shake up any preconception about these stuffy old stories, presenting a multi-ethnic Camelot with contemporary language and attitudes.
Despite all this, Merlin quickly becomes addictive. The dialogue and special effects can be cheesy (particularly when the CGI monsters have to interact with actors), but the cast is charming and the stories, while a tad formulaic, keep things moving. Morgan is appropriately dweeby (but also has killer cheekbones), James combines football-quarterback good looks with a hint of sensitivity, McGrath is luscious and impetuous, and Coulby has earthy spunk. The heavy lifting, acting-wise, is ably handled by Head and Wilson. The first season deftly explores the origins of the pillars of Arthurian mythos, from the sword Excalibur to a very dashing (but born of peasant stock) Lancelot to the mysterious birth of Arthur himself. Add to it all an imprisoned dragon, voiced by John Hurt (Alien, The Elephant Man) and prone to cryptic but sometimes helpful advice, and you have an engaging fantasy series.--Bret Fetzer, Amazon.com