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Series premiere: Merlin is a magically light amusement

In series debut, summer 2009, television, tv, Uncategorized on 06/21/2009 at 3:34 pm

Series name
Merlin

Debuts
Sunday, June 21, at 8 p.m. ET on CTV and NBC

Regularly airs
Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on CTVand NBC

Premise
Usually seen as the shrivelled, bald and otherwise slightly scary old wizard/warlock who helps King Arthur realize his full potential, Merlin arrive in this series as a lad. Everybody, apparently, starts life as a stupid teenager. Oh, sorry. Make that studly teenager. A 13-part drama that aims to introduce the Camelot legend to a new generation. The action opens as Merlin arrives at Camelot only to discover that his secret talent, sorcery, is illegal and watches in horror as the most-recently revealed practitioner stretches his neck under an axe.

Primary cast and crew
Colin Morgan (Doctor Who) as Merlin

Bradley James (Lewis, Dis/Connected) as Prince Arthur

Anthony Head (The Invisibles, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as King Uther

Richard Wilson (Kingdom, Life as We Know It) as Gaius

Katie McGrath (The Tudors) as Morgana

Angel Coulby (The Visit, Talk to Me) as Gwen

John Hurt (Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Limits of Control) is the dragon (well, the voice anyway)

Julian Murphy, Johnny Capps, Jake Michie and Julian Jones (Hex) are exec producers

Buzz buzz
It was a crazy hit in the UK when it premiered there last fall.

Oh, and Anthony Head is not afraid of the Camelot purists. Just so you know.

But what do I know anyway? After having seen the pilot I do declare:
Having put many moons between me and my teenage years, I am a little off the demographic target here, but I found the first two episodes sweet and light, like diet Cool Whip. You kids will love this. Definitely not for fans of realism as these castles are as devoid of character as a cinder-block-walled gymnasium and the costumes are pristine.

Other reviews
Variety’s Brian Lowry uses words like “tepid”.

The NYT’s Alessandra Stanley notes that the cast is colour blind and considers the whole thing quite “charming”.

Official website
Beyond the standard episode guide, the curse of the Canadian IP address means you won’t be able to watch the videos here, but there are good word games, including a sorcery quiz (8 out of 10, thank you very much) and a Camelot and Medievel Life quiz (840 points, although I won’t say the possible total). I passed on the crossword, not wanting to push my luck. Also cute but aimed more at the show’s younger demographic are offerings of Merlin wallpaper and AIM icons.

Can’t wait for the next new-series preview?
I’ll look at the new drama The Philanthropist in time for the Wednesday premiere.

Wondering when the other new series and returning series are kicking off?
Click here for my select list of summer premieres and other important dates. Who am I to tell you what to do, but you could consider bookmarking it…

— Denise Duguay

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  1. Merlin, the series, is fairly chopy and too frequently interupted by commercials. There is a severe problem with the sound modulation…volume is very low. The series debut leaves a lot to be desired from a potentially good fantasy story narrative.

    • Hey Jason. Thanks for dropping by. I didn’t notice the sound problem but will check next b/cast. As for the overall aim of the series, it definitely does not overreach. Too bad. With a little more spit and polish it could have been a good grownup show, but they were clearly after slick, kid-skewed adventure series.

  2. We like the show. Despite the fact that they could not match season one, it is still fun (usually – if you do not count troll episodes) to watch.

    Here is our take on Merlin season two with lots of pics and a little wit if you are interested:

    http://fortresstakes.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/merlin-2009-bbc-season-2-13-episodes/

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