Arthurian legend meets Beverly Hills 90210
in this BBC series that imagines the lives of King Arthur and the wizard Merlin as teenagers. The show takes any number of liberties with the traditional mythos, but two are crucial: Arthur's father, Uther (Anthony Head, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
), has banished magic from Camelot on pain of death; and Guinevere (Angel Coulby), Arthur's destined queen, is the servant of Uther's ward, Morgana (Katie McGrath), setting up a class schism between her and Arthur (Bradley James). This developing romance is one of the strongest throughlines of the second season, which also sees Morgana cultivating her magical powers and Merlin (Colin Morgan) learning about his mysterious father. In fact, season 2 is much more about Arthur than Merlin--episode after episode features Arthur maturing, learning a little humility and patience whilst engaging in a lot of swordplay and jousting, while Merlin spends a lot of time observing from the sidelines and muttering the occasional spell. (Though fans of the young sorcerer shouldn't fear--Merlin has plenty of dashing moments himself.)
The special effects budget has clearly been upped--the show teems with monstrous creatures, including gargoyles, giant scorpions, a troll, a were-panther, and of course the last dragon from season 1 (voiced by John Hurt, Alien, 1984). Merlin has its flaws; the young actors seem more modern than Arthurian thanks to their wonderful teeth and contemporary attitudes, and the scripts and direction can be a bit pedestrian. But that's not what connects viewers to the show--it's the passions of adolescence merged with the pageantry and derring-do of British legends, enacted by a charismatic cast. The climactic episodes will leave fans hungry for season 3. In addition to 13 episodes, Merlin: The Complete Second Season offers an entire disc of behind-the-scenes footage and other extras. --Bret Fetzer (Amazon.com)
The mythical city of Camelot, in a time before history began, is a fantastical realm of legendary beasts and mysterious peoples. In this dangerous world, magic has been banned by the ruthless tyrant, Uther Pendragon. Merlin, a young man gifted with extraordinary magical powers arrives at the gates of Camelot as a young man, sent by his mother to start a new life. Though bright-eyed with wonder, the young sorcerer quickly makes enemies, including the heir to Uther's crown, the headstrong Prince Arthur. This collection brings together all the episodes from show's second series.