Monday, December 22, 2014

Merlin, Season One

In a land of myth and a time of magic, the fate of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of a young boy. His name: Merlin.Hashtag been gone about forty days now. I don't really mean to be delinquent. Just seems that I either have nothing I want to say oooooooooor I haven't been reading a lot lately. WELL, I did get the chance to watch the first season/series/whatever-you-call-it-based-on-if-you're-British-or-American of BBC's Merlin, so I wanted to review that for you guys.

Uther (Anthony Head), the king of Camelot, has banned all magic from the land based on personal issues with it from more than twenty years ago. This doesn't help Merlin (Colin Morgan), who's just arrived in Camelot seeking some sort of refuge or help from Gaius (Richard Wilson), a friend of his mother's and the court physician, because he has “powers.” Though in danger of execution if he's found out, Merlin becomes an apprentice of sorts to Giaus, and it isn't long before he makes a friend in the form of the maidservant Guinevere (“Gwen”) (Angel Coulby) . . . and an enemy in Prince Arthur (Bradley James). But Merlin isn't the only magician in Camelot. There are others, and they have vendettas against the King--and their revenge includes the death of Arthur, Uther's only son. Even though he admits he would rather Arthur were dead than alive, Merlin saves the Prince's life . . . and finds himself both Arthur's manservant and his behind-the-scenes protector.

It's hard to know where to start with my criticism in any review, especially when I have so many opinions of the work I'm reviewing. Don't get me wrong, I loved this first season of the show. I've been wanting to watch it for a couple years now, and just recently in a stroke of luck found out that all of it (well, hopefully all of it) is available on Hulu for free. Still, it's not without its faults--well duh--so I guess I'd better somehow get into them without any more intro. . . . I talk a lot. Ever noticed that?

Hello there Merlin. You may be my new favorite show. Don't tell the Doctor. ;)First of all, the story of Merlin the magician has been adapted in many, many different ways. I've read multiple books about him or including him, and he's an interesting dude. This series goes against tradition by turning him into a boy around the same age as Arthur--according to most of the books I've read, he's much older than Arthur and is more of a “coach” to him than he ever was a servant. Still, I enjoy how their relationship progresses over the course of the season, from loathing to mutual respect. This dynamic isn't one that could be achieved if Merlin were much older than Arthur (and really, making Merlin a sixty-year-old instructor wouldn't have been a good marketing scheme). The plot itself is not very intense, but I like this because in reality life is not always a rollercoaster--and sometimes it's nice to watch less stressful television. Regarding “cheapness,” the CGI and settings are also cheap--but I tolerate it. (I'm a Once Upon a Time fan . . . do I need to say anything else?) Seriously, the group of the knights in Camelot is tiny in comparison to what I expected, though I suppose it showcases how many “kings” lived during that time, and how small kingdoms were in comparison to what we think of them today. The fact that Guinevere is a servant also deposes typical legend, but I won't say more for those who don't know much about the Arthurian era.

Regarding its “pros” . . . Merlin is adorable. He's such a loveable retard. And the whole show is hilarious, mostly because of him. An aspect that is both a complaint and a “like” for me is that the show does too good a job of shipping Merlin and Guinevere . . . and again I won't say any more about this for now. I also really like Morgana. I didn't think I would because I thought she would be . . . well, different, based on popular myth about her. I did come close to hating Merlin in Episode 8, “The Beginning of the End,” for reasons that are self-explanatory when you watch the actual episode. But other than those few things, I really loved the first season of this. For those of you who are interested in the Camelot/Round Table/medieval era and aren't too picky about CGI, sets, and costuming, I think you'll like it as well.

For Hallie's benefit: There is also a sort of adaptation of the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Rating: 4.5 stars.


  1. I remember watching the first series and loving it. It's just cute and fun even if it does differ from the legends we're used too. The latter seasons change drastically making it less fun as the writer's tried to go the more serious route. It doesn't always work well. :)

    1. I figured that the later seasons got ... different. Makes me sad though--I love the lighthearted aspect of this season. Hopefully I still like it as I get further on into it :)

  2. The CGI is particularly painful in this show, especially during the first couple of seasons. Have you been able to watch the rest of the series? The writers do a good job of tying in traditional elements of the legend in a creative and new way.

    I also love the friendship that develops between Arthur and Merlin! The CGI gets a bit better as the series progresses, but it's BBC, so it's always a *little* cheesy. :)

    a vapor in the wind

    1. Yes, it is kind of ridiculous ... but I love the characters so much that I live with it!

      I did watch the rest of the series -- I have a draft about those sitting in Blogger waiting for construction and publishing ;) I loved those too, even though they did get darker as it went along. They did the character development really really well, and there are a lot of lessons in the undercurrent of those four seasons which make me like it even more.

      Thanks for commenting, Dani!


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