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BBC Merlin Review

Merlin is the new primetime BBC series, that takes the Arthurian legend into the kind of territory that was used for the channels Robin Hood and others.

So yes, it’s a “re-imagining” of the classic. It concerns a young Merlin and a young Arthur. In this series, Uther is on the throne of Camelot, and has banned magic from the kingdom. The dragons have been defeated, apart from one he keeps in his dungeons, and so Merlin must learn to keep his burgeoning talents quiet.

Don’t expect a strong story here, as it’s very much standalone episodes with a challenge-of-the-week format (so far). The first episode concerned Merlin’s arrival in Camelot and a plot against the young prince by a vengeful sorceress. The second episode was about a Tournament for the kingdoms knights. In each, Merlin has to surreptitiously use his magic to defeat these perils.

The cast is pretty good. Merlin is played with conviction by Colin Morgan. ( My Merlin will always be Nicol Williamson in Excalibur 🙂 ) You’ll also find Richard Wilson (One Foot in The Grave) as the good doctor Gaius, Merlins guardian – and Anthony Head (Buffy, Gold Blend…) as King Uther Pendragon. Somehow, John Hurt is involved as the voice of the dragon. There are also guest stars in each episode: Will Melor (from Two Pints Of Lager) is the Knight Valiant (really…) in the second episode, and Eve Myles (from Torchwood) in the first. In fact, there’s very much a Torchwood/Doctor Who feel to the enterprise.

This is perfect weekend family TV. There is impressive attention to detail for this kind of thing – the Knights fight realistically, and the armour and weapons look the part, and the locations also fit well. The special effects are mainly CGI fare and again, are not to shabby.

Looking at reviews across the web it seems people find this too modern, and don’t like the fact that this isn’t true to the myth – but hey, it’s a children’s TV show. What do you expect?

Rating: 7.5 / 10

IMDB | BBC Homepage | Watch on iPlayer (UK Only)