19 Jun 2009

TV Addiction: Merlin!

Hmmm, I keep reading (on a couple of TV/sci-fi websites I hang out at, namely Airlock AlphaTelevisionary) and about the big premier of the BBC series Merlin coming up this weekend in the US on NBC, and I just had to join in the chatter! ;o)

For those who haven't heard about it (and who can't guess based on the name), this series retells the tale of King Arthur and Merlin the Magician. Just not like in any story you've ever read! For starters... well Merlin's YOUNG! Ditto Prince Arthur (who's got a ways to go before being worthy of being the legendary King). You could say this tale is to the Arthurian legends what Smallville is to Superman, except much better and a lot more fun! (also in the Arthurian legends Merlin is much older than Arthur, nowhere near the same age) Another difference is the fact that Arthur lives with his father, reigning King Uther (Anthony Stewart Head, a.k.a. Giles!) whereas in the legends he was raised elsewhere and never met his father. Morgana is the King's ward, so she grows up at court, and Gwen is her maidservant. Oh, another thing (just to add some tension), magic is forbidden in Uther's kingdom so Merlin has to keep his abilities a secret. He gets teaching and advice from Gaius the court doctor... and a dragon (who speaks in riddles) chained beneath the castle!

The tale is lots of fun, the characters are endearing, the actors do a good job, and the production values (costumes, effects etc) are astonishing. And oh my that castle! In many interviews you'll hear the actors, director etc insist on how lucky they were to find that French castle (apparently rebuilt by Bonaparte over the ruins of a midevil one) and how it's truly another character in the series. I wish I could explore its halls... It's a good fun (family-friendly) show with lots of adventures and enough tension to make you nervous for the heroes now and again.

So it's definitely not kosher in the sense that the only semblance to King Arthur as we know him are the names and the relationships between most of the characters. But at this point there have been so many retellings and adaptations of the legend that, who cares?! Not me! I'm such a King Arthur nut that I think I've read every version (often told from the viewpoint of different characters) I've been able to lay my hands on (there are some wonderful retellings by Mary Stewart, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Stephen Lawhead...), so I jumped at the chance to watch this the moment it was available. And was not disappointed!

I caught the series as it aired in the UK last fall, and I can't wait for season 2 to start up the magic again! Am also looking forward to catching it again on dvd as soon as the full series becomes available at a reasonable price. So for those of you across the pond, if you enjoy tales of knights in shining armor, wizards and dragons... remember to turn on your TV (or TiVo-thingy) Sunday night! And enjoy!!! :o)

Need more reasons to watch it?
  • A fan has put together 10 Merlin-based reasons for your enjoyment:

  • and here's a interview on the two stars on a British programme a few months ago talking about the show, each other, their colleagues... and getting ready to start filming season 2!


  1. interesting. did not catch this the first time around. will have to search it out this season. the story of King Arthur, Merlin and the knights of the round has always captured my imagination!

  2. Chris....? Are you crazy?? Do we get this here? I would love this, will go look asap. You did a wonderful job on this promo. I MUST HAVE IT!

  3. Of course I'm Crazy Verily, I thought that was clear from my moniker! ;o)

    Brian, don't you live in the Sates? In which case this is "the first time around"!

    I think my earliest memories of reading adventures hail back to stories of Robin Hood, King Arthur, and Greek Legends... it's funny how the things that inspired you in childhood remain with you the rest of your life! :o)

  4. Wow, I am so glad I read your post before this weekend! I'm going to TIVO it right now. I always loved Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy.

  5. well I knew the premier date in the US so I had this ready to post in time to let you guys know about it!

    yeah, I think of all the tales I've read, Mary Stewart's Quadrilogy (don't forget "The Wicked Day"!) is my favourite! All the details about the departure of the Romans, of Vortigern's kingdom, Myrddin's relationship to Ambrosius... wonderful!


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