DVD Review: Merlin — The Complete Second Season

Camelot is getting a lot of attention these days, with a number of high-profile movie projects gestating in Hollywood and the Starz Channel readying their own version of Camelot for TV. The BBC can say they got there first with “Merlin”, their revisionist take on the Camelot legend, this time from the point of view of the famed magician, here represented as a young man in search of a destiny along with some familiar faces, in particular the not-yet-King Arthur. With the show now in its third season, the BBC is releasing the complete second season on DVD January 18, 2011.

Merlin is back with even more magic, adventure and romance as the young wizard struggles to protect Prince Arthur in the perilous world of Camelot. While battling deadly assassins, mystical monsters and the most powerful sorcerers Camelot has ever seen, Merlin must work harder than ever to conceal his unique abilities, as King Uther redoubles his war against magic. And Merlin isn’t the only one whose destiny calls—Lady Morgana , Uther’s ward, discovers dangerous secrets she dare not reveal; Lancelot returns, changing everything for both Gwen and Arthur; and King Uther falls in love, little knowing that the charming Lady Catrina is secretly a hideous troll. And as Arthur continues on his path from arrogant prince to the noble and just King Arthur of legend, we see the return of the one prophesied to kill him—the mysterious druid boy, Mordred. Featuring exciting new villains, white-knuckle stunt sequences, and spectacular CGI monsters, Merlin: Season Two is more thrilling than ever.

Season 2 Review:

If Season 1 of “Merlin” was all about discovering the BBC’s new take on the familiar legend through the eyes of a young but vastly talented Merlin (Colin Morgan), Season 2 spends more time with the other half of the Camelot legend — a maturing, and would-be King Arthur (Bradley James). Here’s the thing about James — you probably couldn’t cast the role better with another actor. James just has that clean-cut all-British look about him that screams “once and future King”. Mind you, not that Merlin gets lost in the shuffle. Far from it, as very important revelations about the young wizard come to the fore by season’s end. Morgana (Katie McGrath) also gets a little taste of the dark side, and by gosh, seems to like it. Meanwhile John Hurt, who voices the Great Dragon, returns to lend the boy wizard a hand or two throughout the season.

While the writing for Season 2 continues to be iffy at times, it does keep things moving along nicely. We already know where most of these storylines will be headed, and the writing does a good job of getting there — or moving in those directions. There is also a noticeable increase in the action quotient, thanks to the season’s more Arthur-centric episodes. Indeed, Season 2 seems to have gotten an infusion of money by way of the budget, resulting in more creatures menacing Camelot than in the first season, and just a better looking show. Of course, since the show has now become a hit for the BBC, it makes sense that they would invest more in it. The special effects also look better, though we’re still talking about TV budget SFX here, so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The improvement is there, though, and should be noted.

Notable guests stars include the beautiful Emilia Fox as Morgause, who plays Emperor Palpatine to Morgana’s Darth Vader. A deliciously menacing Charles Dance shows up in “Witchfinder” to menace the kids, and former “Heroes” star Santiago Cabrera returns as as the sword-slinging hero Lancelot in “Lancelot and Guinevere”, finally completing that love triangle we’ve all been waiting for. Well, sort of. The season finale “The Last Dragonlord” brings the show back to Merlin in a major way, and also sets up for a major status quo-changing Season 3.

DVD Special Features:

  • Cast and Crew introduction to Season Two
  • Cast and Crew audio commentaries
  • Behind the Scenes
  • The Making of Merlin
  • Photo Gallery
  • Wallpapers

Buy “Merlin: The Complete Second Season” on DVD from BBC.