Merlin (BBC/NBC) Season 1

“In a land of myth, and a time of magic, the destiny of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of a young boy.  His name…Merlin.”

So once I found Robin Hood, I couldn’t stop looking for legends and stories from Britain.  Lo and behold, Netflix has given me Merlin.  (I swear, I’m giving Netflix all this free PR like Joey Richter for Red Vines.)

Merlin was originally a BBC production, but when it moved to the States, it didn’t do well on BBC or NBC and switched over to Syfy (or something to this extent).  I’ve only seen one season so far, but I thought it was really good.  And since you folks seem really taken with Robin Hood, I thought you might like this as well.

Merlin, you could say, is the prequel to what we know of the Arthurian legend.  Obviously, the Merlin I’ve posted above is not some old dude with a pointy hat and long white beard.  Merlin’s roughly 18 (I’m not sure if they ever give him an age) when he leaves home and moves to Camelot for his protection.  See, Merlin is different from others.  He possesses a natural magic that allows him to do basically anything.  If King Uther (Arthur’s father) ever found out, he would have Merlin killed before he could snap his fingers.  Merlin quickly finds out it’s his destiny to protect Arthur from harm.  If he can’t do it, Camelot will fall.  The fate of the nation rests on his shoulders…

I really like Merlin as a character.  And as dude.  I mean, check out those brilliant blue eyes… Ahem.  Merlin is a flawed character.  He tries to do the best he can in every situation, but it usually get him into trouble.  Arthur sometimes takes full advantage of Merlin’s devotion to him and uses it against Merlin.  Most of the time, Merlin really does have a heart of gold.

This dashing lad is Prince Arthur, Merlin’s master.  Arthur is a much better man than his father is any day of the week.  Arthur is a bit of a prick, especially right at the beginning, but it soon becomes clear that he truly wants the best for the people of Camelot.  He ends up at odds with his father sometimes when he knows more can be done for the people.  While he rarely shows any kind of affection for anyone, he does have his own way of showing he cares for the people around him.

For our supporting cast, we have Guinevere (usually just shortened to Gwen) and Lady Morgana.  Gwen is Morgana’s maid and the daughter of a blacksmith in town.  Morgana lives at the castle under Uther’s care.  Her father was Uther’s best knight and died in battle when she was ten.  For some unexplained reason, Uther seems to think Morgana and Arthur would be the perfect couple, even though they are constantly at odds with each other.  Morgana, like Arthur, has a hard time expressing her feelings, but she does make it clear she cares about Arthur.

There are more characters that play a constant role, such as King Uther and Gaius (Merlin’s mentor and the court physician).  It’s an interesting show with all sorts of character dynamics and lots of magic.  It’s sort of like Robin Hood with magic.  That’s a pretty apt description.

One thing I will say about the series is that the effects are pretty cheesy.  We have mythical creatures, like Griffins, appear, but it’s insanely obvious they were computer animated.  It’s not hidden at all.  But if you can look past cheeseball effects and stick to the storyline, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Best Episodes: 1.04 “The Poisoned Chalice” and 1.11 “The Labyrinth of Gedref”

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