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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 31 March 2013
Series 4 of Merlin is strongest, darkest, biggest and overall best series of Merlin. Its very action packed at times, episodes vary in terms of humour and darkness. Series 4 ranks as my favourite series out the 5, I do not think that the fifth series topped this, as when compared, this is much stronger in multiple ways: It has a brilliant balance of humorous scenes which are in tears at, and dark, serious scenes we need a completely different approach; it has a good, well paced build up; Arthur's bromance with Merlin and romance is Gwen is, most of the time, at it's strongest; and, most of all, all the episodes in this series are simply a joy to watch. After the series' finest installment, "The Darkest Hour" which is not only the highlight episode of the series, but the highlight of the entire show, the second half picks up not long after the first left off and continues to have a very strong run of brilliant additions to the show.

The Secret Shearer 7/10
Starting of from where the preceding episode ended, where Morgana loses her fights against Emrys. She wants to find out his true name and identity, so she seeks the help of a powerful catha named Altior (Gary Lewis), to emotionally torture Gauis until he reveals Emrys' true identity. This episode turns out to be very predictable, and leads to no development in the end. However, the episode has a bigger part for Gauis. It also has a bigger part for ONE of knights, Sir Gwaine; usually, all of the knights are together and not centred just around one of them, which is not a bad point, but it's great that this episode focused of just one of them. This is series 4's weakest episode, but it is still good and I enjoyed it. I am more favorable about this episode than un-favorable.

Lamia 9/10
This features a lot outside of Camelot and in the forest, which is something that does not happen very often. Yet it features so much centred around every character, usually, there is an episode that is centred around JUST Merlin, or Arthur etc. This is not bad at all, but this episode has a really big ensemble for ALL the characters – Merlin, Arthur, Gwen, Gauis and all the knights. The is one of the few episodes that is centred around all the characters. I was disappointed by the CGI used at the end, it was very poor and not convincing, the CGI is usually excellent, it is one the show's highlights, so I was disappointed by that. But other than that slight hiccup, this was a great, chilling episode.

Lancelot Du Lac 9/10
When Lancelot first came in the show back in the first series, who would have know he would have been the one to leave the show in the opener to this series. However, he was back in this episode! But Merlin knew something was not right, and it is, as usual, down to him to save Arthur and Gwen. The actors gave there ultimate performances in this episode, especially Angel Coulby (Gwen). It had a beautiful exit for Sir Lancelot. Like the previous episode, it has one huge let down. This episodes fault is that Arthur's romance with Gwen was really cooled in this episode, more than it ever has been before. However, other than that, the episode is still excellent.

A Herald of the New Age 10/10
Another one of the best in the series. It is centered around a particular knight, Sir Elyan. It has moments that have us on the edge of our seats, moments that make us jump out of our seats, and entertainment so we do not want to leave our seats. It has lots of darkness, and elements of humour – I love it when the balance is just right.

The Hunter's Heart 9/10
Despite cooling down Arthur and Merlin's bromance, whereas it was very strong earlier on in the series, this episode made up slightly for cooling down Arthur and Gwen's romance in episode 9 and it had a well-paced build up to the final episode. And the ''next time'' trailer at the end of the episode made the weeks wait for the following episode unbearable.

The Sword in the Stone Part 1 9/10
So Morgana takes over Camelot, Merlin and Arthur run away and Arthur becomes very say – Is it me, or does this sound vaguely familiarly? - Yes, this episode is too similar to series 3's finale, ''The Coming of Arthur''. Although it does has a lot of differences, the main overall plot is the same. But this episode is still epic, dark, action packed, funny and really enjoyable.

The Sword in the Stone Part 2 9.5/10
*Spoilers ahead. Unfortunately, this episode resolves the same was as the finale to the third series as well. This episode also has a few other flaws: Merlin had to magically chant the sword out of stone for Arthur, it would have been better if he had done that himself; Arthur had Excalibur, but Helios was still able to defeat him; most of all, Tristan and Isolde where brilliant characters, and Isolde died. Nevertheless, this episode is still a brilliant, beautiful finale to a fantastic series, of a fantastic show. Arthur and Gwen became King and Queen, at last!
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on 2 March 2013
Great family watching with some humour and monsters/magic (and slightly more 'grown-up' than some of the earlier episodes). Watching would have been a bit more rewarding if some character developments had been kept more in line with the original Arthurian legend. King Arthur is supposed to be intelligent, but doesn't even notice Merlin's magical abilities right under his nose! On the whole, interesting, and does transport the viewer to a 'once-upon-a-time' world. Definately the sort of thing to watch, when you're in the mood for some easy viewing either with the family or without.
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on 23 January 2012
This boxed set contains episodes 7-13 of series 4 of Merlin. The series started out brilliantly, with some of the most surprising, well-written episodes ever (The Wicked Day, Aithusa, His Father's Son among my favorites.) The characterizations were spot-on, and the two young male leads, Bradley James and Colin Morgan in particular, have upped their game to incredible, amazing proportions. The degree to which they've matured and come into their own this season is commendable.

What's more, the entire season is being shot in 35mm film, which means it is absolutely gorgeous visually. Shine (Merlin's production company) has taken advantage of the beautiful scenery of Cardiff, Wales and surrounding areas, utilizing locations frequently and it truly makes a positive and impressive difference.

Episodes 1-6 (featured in volume 1) also feature some wonderful, hilarious banter between their characters, Arthur and Merlin. Their bromance is now legendary, and their chemistry is undeniable. We've seen Arthur mature from spoiled, bratty prince to regent and now to a strong, well-meaning king. We've seen the addition of Agravaine, Arthur's traitorous uncle, (marvelously played by Nathaniel Parker), and the loss of King Uther, Arthur's father. Gwen has now surpassed all human perfection and has taken on the role of saintly martyr, never once displaying a fault or flaw, never disagreeing with Arthur, as well as apparently having been granted new Wonder-bras to enhance her array of designer-servant gowns. (Even her unfaithfulness with Lancelot isn't her fault, magic made them do it.) Gaius is still around to advise caution and offer sage advice as well as raise that ever-expressive eyebrow. And Morgana....she of the overdone green eyeshadow, the trills, the preens, the poses, the smirks, the hair tossing...well. Someone really should tell the poor thing that real villains don't need to flounce quite that much, (she acts like she's in a French perfume commercial all the time), but she makes up for it with all her mustache-twirling, over-the-top, cartoony, scenery-chewing malevolence.

Volume 2 of series 4 starts out with a very good episode called The Secret Sharer, in which Gaius is kidnapped by Agravaine and Morgana to extract information about the mysterious Emrys, and Agravaine sets it up to look like Gaius has fled. He plants magic books to cast further suspicions on Gaius, and fake-sympathizes with Arthur about how Gaius has always seemed like such a loyal advisor. There is another one of those scenes between Arthur and Merlin that reminds even the adults in the viewing audience why we tune in each week, with the inimitable Colin Morgan teary-eyed and lip-trembling, and Bradley James' character Arthur at once declaring his friendship for him and shutting him down. (And I have to be honest, after that scene I was wholly convinced there would be a magic reveal this season. Alas, t'wasn't to be...)

After episode seven, however, it was as if all the skilled and talented people involved in the show went on holiday, only to be replaced by pre-pubescent and illiterate girls. Episode 8, Lamia, featured Merlin getting bullied and threatened by the knights due to an enchanted creature in the guise of a girl. Episode 9, called Lancelot du Lac, had to be the worst hour of telly ever produced and was perhaps the biggest and most disappointing cop out of the show. Episode 10 was a filler episode up that had me almost falling asleep until the last ten minutes, when Bradley James totally took over and kicked some serious butt. (And again, another tease regarding Arthur's accepting magic sooner rather than later.)Episode 11, The Hunter's Heart, featured Janet Montgomery as Princess Mithian, Arthur's new betrothed, who was absolutely stellar and had more chemistry with him in one ep than Gwen has with him after four years. This was also the episode where Merlin meddled and nagged Arthur inappropriately, and Arthur threatened to banish Merlin, not once but twice (and meant it). So much for their bond of the first half of the season. The season's finale was a 2-parter, Sword in the Stone parts 1 & 2, and unfortunately, it was a redux of last season's finale: Morgana and her merry band of evils take over Camelot, Merlin and Arthur flee, Arthur is sad, Merlin peps him up, they re-take Camelot, Gwen and Arthur kiss amdist sunbeams and violins. The only variations this time were that Arthur was wearing a funny costume and was under Merlin's mind control, unbeknownst to him. That was another brilliant performance by Mr. James, ranging between achingly vulnerable and hilariously humorous. As the title suggests, a piece of the famous legends is revisited with a new take. Oh, and there is also a rather wasted glimpse of two more characters of legend, Tristan and Isolde, although the only thing these characters have in common with the legend are their names. And in what has to be another WTF moment for this show, the new white baby dragon revives a mortally wounded Morgana--apparently, he isn't going to be someone who bodes well "for the future of Albion Arthur & Merlin will build", as Kilgarrah claimed back in episode 4.

Overall, it's an amazingly flat and senseless end to a series that started off astoundingly rich and enjoyable. I wish the show runners would understand a bit more that being a family show does not necessarily mean that those watching have the mentality of 3 year olds, and stop talking down to their audience. There are plot holes big enough to drive tanks through, and while some characterizations (like Arthur & Merlin) are vividly drawn, with believable moral ambiguity--- others, like the women of the show, are shallow and one dimensional. (Let's face it--Gwen is without fault and flaw, a selfless martyr, 100% good, while Morgana finds great glee in hurting innocents--"Burn the crops, starve the kids!". There's no in-between for either of them.) The both of them are sadly laughable. And now that Gwen is queen, (with no hint of any depth between her and Arthur, no signs of them trying to work out their trust issues), I am worried about Merlin's place as adviser and friend in series 5. At the least, those delightful domestic scenes in Arthur's chambers will most likely not be happening, now that Arthur shares his space with a woman.

Further, I'm terribly disappointed that the much-hyped new knights never appear as more than background (with the possible exception of Sir Elyan, Gwen's brother). I had hoped that their status as low-born knights of the new order might be explored at least a little, but I guess that might have taken time away for more scenes of Arthur and Gwen kissing while being back-lit.

Of all the characters, Merlin--the title character, the one the show should be about, has the least amount of character growth and development, which really, is seriously wrong. The season lacked consistency (and at times, coherence) and was not always on its toes when it came to continuity.

This dvd collection also includes 3 commentaries by the actors and directors, an outtake reel (very funny), and deleted scenes. It is worth it just for those extras.

Okay. I'm prepared to be bashed now by fanatical Merlin-show lovers and Gwen and Morgana sympathizers.
1010 Comments| 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 December 2013
I really ENJOY MERLIN. this carries on from previous series. the actors are all great and it appeals to any age group as both I and my 10 year old grandson watch it
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on 4 April 2016
Back when Merlin was still on TV this was a great series 4 before the enormous let down and climax of series 5 which broke a lot of fans hearts in the wrong way!!!
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on 12 November 2012
Great Service. Arrived quickly and safely. Really pleased with the service and DVD. Cannot fault how quickly the DVD arrived. Couldn't be happier. Many thanks
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on 20 September 2015
I am a Merlin fan, and as usual this is a great volume to watch and lose yourself in. Magic and magnificence brought to a modern audience of any age.
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on 16 July 2013
this item was bought as a gift. we paid a very reasonable price for it and it has made my mother in law very happy with many hours worth of viewing.
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on 6 October 2015
Excellent used product - a pity one was damaged and so the whole set was returned without a replacement being offered.
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on 6 August 2014
Love this series although this was for a friend. Good effects and good looking young men what else could you ask for
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