You would think that with magic banished, the story would be lacking in the magic area, but there's tons of magic and special effects shown in the show. The special effects are pretty good but nothing amazing. I think they could have done the dragon a bit more realistically. Most of the scenes in Merlin were filmed in Pierrefonds, France in a real castle which lends to the feel of authenticity. Thankfully, the series isn't loaded with teen sexcapades with everyone falling into bed with everyone else which means this makes a fantastic family show that is suitable for all ages except the very young since there are a few scary scenes that might be a bit too much for them.
Overall I enjoyed the series. It doesn't really follow the legend very well so if you try to think of it too much as the legend of Arthur it gets confusing trying to mesh the two together. However, if you look at it as a magical adventure set in ancient England, it's quite enjoyable.
Merlin: The Complete First Season contains all 13 episodes from the television drama series. It is contained on five discs and has over two hours of special features including two making-of featurettes, video diaries, photo galleries, audio commentary, and wallpaper.