Though I can sit back for hours on end and watch men in unconvincing rubber suits masquerading as aliens, mutants, and other kinds of monsters in the most tacky of science fiction tales, I have a hard time with many “fantasy” tales — especially when their only reason for being called into existence in the first place was because J.K. Rowling made a mint by creating her famous Harry Potter franchise. Modern film and television has this unhealthy obsession with “reimagining” various properties these days, and timeless tales of magicians are no exception to the latter. A brief look at the BBC series Merlin (also known as The Adventures of Merlin), will solidify such a fascination.
This spin on the Arthurian legend finds a young Merlin (Colin Morgan), who is employed in the court of Camelot, under the reign of Uther Pendragon (Anthony Head — a casting choice that no doubt was intended to reach the Buffy, the Vampire Slayer audience, which the series is also aimed at). Merlin is a gifted young boy: one who has the Force, er, magic flowing through his veins. His talent is one that must not been revealed publicly, however, since magic is strictly forbidden within the realms of Camelot. It’s a pity, too, since there are a number of daily dangers that threaten the kingdom. And so, our youthful hero learns the tricks (ha-ha) of the trade via elder Gaius (Richard Wilson), Pendragon’s trusted physician.
In the Third Series of Merlin, Pendragon’s missing ward, Morgana (Katie McGrath), is found by his son, Arthur (Bradley James), and Merlin — who have been on an extended search for the lass. Her “rescue,” though, is not that: she has actually been learning the ways of the dark arts from her evil sister — and her return to the kingdom is solely for the purpose of taking hold of it. From there, Merlin has to figure out how to defeat the villainess without spilling the beans on his own abilities. Meanwhile, the average non-fantasy-fan viewer is bogged down by this oddly-popular British program’s corny premise, low-budget special effects, and laughable dialogue.
Frankly, this just isn’t my cup of tea, though I can see why some people might like it. After all, much like I enjoy watching cheesy sci-fi flicks, it’s all a matter of personal tastes and guilty pleasures.
BBC Video brings us a 5-Disc set of (The Adventures of) Merlin: The Complete Third Series with a fine widescreen transfer and more-than-adequate stereo sound (optional English subtitles are included). Special feature-wise, there are several episodes here boasting audio commentaries, while the last disc in the package houses most of the other bonus items, including a behind-the-scenes featurette, outtakes, deleted scenes, a stills gallery, and a Q&A moment from the 2010 Comic Con — which should give you an inkling of the kind of people that this show was created and is best suited for [wink].