By a customer
, 14 Nov 2008
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
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My children and I have loved watching this superb 13 part BBC adaptation on tv on saturday nights. The series tells the story of Merlin as a young boy and his relationship with Prince Arthur, before Arthur becomes King of Camelot.
The main cast are:
Colin Morgan as Merlin.
Bradley James as Prince Arthur (the future King of Camelot).
Richard Wilson as Gaius (Camelot's court physician and one of the few to know Merlin's secret).
Anthony Head as Uther Pendragon (Arthur's father)
Angel Coulby as Guinevere (Gwen) - a servant and friend to Morgana
Katie McGrath as Morgana - King Uther's ward (and in some legends Arthur's half-sister) and John Hurt as the voice of The Great Dragon. He is Merlin's mentor and one of the few to know his secret.
The plot of this adaptation begins with the arrival of Merlin at Camelot, where the king, Uther Pendragon, has outlawed magic and imprisoned the last dragon.
Merlin, who was born with extraordinary magical powers, is taken as the apprentice of Gaius the Camelot Physician.
Merlin later discovers, after being informed by the last dragon, who is held as a prisoner deep under the city, that he has an important destiny in protecting Uther's arrogant son, Arthur, so that he may grow up to found a great kingdom.
This tv drama does deviate from the more traditional Arthurian Legends such as the traditional legends were set in the 'dark ages' - which was thought to be around the year of 927, however the Camelot Castle interiors in this tv drama are more 15th century, making the series' setting inconsistent with English history.
Britain is also never mentioned, though the dragon has used the name Albion, which is the oldest known name for Great Britain.
Another alteration to Legend is that in the original myth, it is Arthur who builds Camelot, whereas in this series it pre-dates Arthur's father Uther.
Another key difference is that in the television series, Arthur and Merlin are of approximately the same age, whereas in traditional myth, Merlin is much older, and acts as Arthur's tutor. This kind of relationship is played out between Gaius and Merlin.
I am not trying to put a dampner on this series, as I think that it is a fabulous twist on the Legend, but some viewers who have studied the myths and legends of King Arthur may be a bit put out about these subtle differences. It is really up to the viewer, as to their individual stand point.
The episodes are as follows:
'The Dragon's Call' - Merlin is sent by his mother to start a new life in Camelot, where he witnesses the execution of a man for using magic and learns he must tread carefully from now on. When he later steps in to protect a manservant from Prince Arthur and encounters the Great Dragon, the young sorcerer begins an adventure that will determine his destiny.
'Valiant' - Knight Valiant arrives in Camelot to compete in the annual sword-fighting tournament and faces Arthur in the final. Merlin realises the combatant has a ruse to beat his opponents that could spell death for the prince but struggles to convince King Uther of his findings.
'The Mark of Nimueh' - When the waters of Camelot are mysteriously poisioned, Uther blames Gwen and she is soon arrested. However, they are unaware that this is the magic of an evil, yet beautiful witch named Nimueh.
The Poisoned Chalice - Camelot is celebrating the union between the kingdoms of Camelot and Mercia. When Merlin meets Nimueh posing as a young girl, she tells him that Bayard of Mercia plans to poison Arthur. In an attempt to prevent this, Merlin is poisoned instead.
'Lancelot' - Lancelot arrives in Camelot and saves Merlin from a griffin. Merlin realises Lancelot's worth and tries to help him become a knight, despite his lack of noble blood.
'A Remedy to Cure All ILLs' - A mysterious man named Edwin apparently saves Morgana from a serious illness, and puts Gaius's position as court physician at risk.
'The Gates of Avalon' - Arthur begins to fall in love with a beautiful girl, but Morgana has a strange dream of Arthur being murdered by the hands, also of a beautiful girl. Merlin soon learns that the girl and her father have been banished from the land of eternal life.
The Beginning of the End - A druid and his boy are caught in Camelot and soon try to escape from the guards. Merlin soon hears the boy's telepathic cry for help. The guards find the druid who is soon executed, leaving the boy all on his own.
Excalibur - At Arthur's coming-of-age ceremony a mysterious black knight arrives in Camelot, uncovering a secret from the past that Uther would prefer stayed buried.
The Moment of Truth - Merlin, Arthur, Morgana and Gwen join forces to save Merlin's village from a ruthless group of bandits.
and as to episodes 11 - 13. I am not going to tell you what happens in the finale, but what I can tell you, is that Arthur kills a unicorn and as everybody cheers for him, except Merlin, a curse arrives in Camelot, which could see the end of the city. And Gwen's father, Tom, helps a sorcerer named Tauren turn lead into gold using a magic stone. As Tauren escapes, Tom is caught and will await trial. Whilst looking for Gwen, Morgana finds the magic stone, and Merlin can sense it. When Tom is killed by Uther, Morgana is out for revenge on Uther.
What happens next....? you will have to watch to find out !
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