Mar 8, 2012

[TV] Merlin: Season 2 (BBC)

Having watched the first season of Merlin, you'd think that I'd quite while ahead and stop watching the series. But given that I already have copies of the first four seasons just lying around the apartment, I figured that I might as well take the time to work through them since I had already done the digital acquisition work. Why waste decent content, right?

And if anything, it does give me something to post for a review today. Just don't expect a terribly positive one.

Merlin is a weird show. It's designed to appeal to younger audiences while still somewhat satisfying fans of sword & sorcery shows who have nothing else to watch with the loss of shows like Legend of the Seeker. Some compare it to the Arthurian version of Smallville or something, which is kind of weird to think about.

But despite the many, many, many deviations from the original stories of King Arthur, the often modern-thinking woven into the stories and the dizzying plot lines, the show is oddly appealing. Sort of like a train wreck that everyone has to stop and watch since there's not much else to do. Weird.

Merlin is a BBC One TV series created by Julian Jones, Jake Michie, Johnny Capps, and Julian Murphy. The show is produced by independent company Shine Limited and currently spans 4 seasons.

The kingdom of Camelot continues to frown upon the use of magic, thus continuing to make the life of young magician Merlin (Colin Morgan) that much more difficult. And while a servant in the eyes of most people, he is in fact charged with protecting young Arthur (Bradley James), while learning the ways of magic from his mentor Gaius (Richard Wilson).

From left to right: Guinevere, Gaius, Morgana,...
Image via Wikipedia
This season brought a bit more focus on Morgana (Katie McGrath), who is currently the ward of King Uther Pendragon (Anthony Head). Being the only magic user known to Merlin, she ha a bit of a struggle of her own as she hides her abilities and yet finds she has her own destiny to fulfill. This leads to the introduction of a young Mordred (Asa Butterfield), who somehow plays a role in her future.

And please, let's not refer back to the original stories in terms of who Morgana and Mordred are supposed to be with respect with one another. While the names are similar, their characters are VERY different from how they were depicted in the original myths and legends.

This season had some weird interludes that I'm not quite sure what value they were supposed to provide. The two-part episode "Beauty and the Beast" involved an enchanted Troll tricking the King into marrying her and I don't see the point in stretching this story line across two episodes at all. And don't get me started with the episode "Sweet Dreams", which played out like a very bad version of A Midsummer Night's Dream or something.

The series continues to have fairly decent special effects, although mostly invested in bringing the Great Dragon (John Hurt) to life. And Merlin still has his regular visits to the dragon to make the budget worthwhile even if it doesn't always make sense plot-wise. I mean come on, does the dragon have the answer to almost every single problem Merlin finds himself facing?

The odd bromance between Arthur and Merlin does grow to some extent in this season. There's nothing like daddy issues to fuel the fires of slash fiction writers everywhere, I guess. This does not mean that they're actual acting gets any better - in fact things seem fairly wooden more often than not. And I don't even know what role Gwen (Angel Coulby) is really supposed to play in this show other than the weird confused love interest with not back story other than being a love interest for Arthur.

Admittedly, this season of Merlin was a smidge better than the first one, especially once the Great Dragon really comes into play. But it'll probably be a rather boring afternoon indeed before I opt to pop in the next season into my media player. Thus the season rates 2.5 highly predictable "surprise" plot twists out of a possible 5.

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