I finally finished watching the DVD of the first and only season of this show.
For starters-this premiered before Game of Thrones
although which one was in production first I'm sure is debatable.
In a retelling of the Legend of King Arthur, the series opens with King Uthar getting poisoned by Morgan (played by Eva Green), who had just returned after being sent to a nunnery. Merlin (played by Joseph Fiennes) uses this opportunity to place Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower ) on the throne instead of Morgan. Until now, Arthur had been living carefree with his parents and brother, unbeknown of his royal heritage. Merlin gets him to Camelot as king-and know a battle for who will control Britain begins with Arthur in Camelot growing into his role as king, and Morgan at Castle Pendragon trying to claim a rule she believes rightfully is hers.
When the show was on, I would catch it sporadically, and for the most part liked what I saw-once I was able to sit down and watch it from start to finish, I saw plenty of its flaws but still found stuff to like.
The definite strong points where Merlin and Morgan. This has a much darker version of Merlin then a lot of other adaptations I've seen. Descrribed as a "warrior monk type" he's a real "plans within plans" sort of person. This Merlin could be mean and manipulative, but still was fighting for what seems to be a worthy cause, although and I get the feeling that had the series continued we would have learned his reason for wanting Arthur on the throne might not have bee 100% altruistic. Also his use of magic was something he looked at an addiction-something that came with great cost-which was an underlying theme of the series. Without going into too many spoilers here, I'd say check out the episode where he acquires the legendary sword Excalibur because I think it really showed what type of person he was.
Morgan was interesting because they now fleshed out her character. She was the banished daughter of a king that didn't want her, and rather then being truly evil and malevolent-it was more that she was playing the same game as the brutal, ambitious royal men-she was just doing it better. She has some people she cares for, and is willing to do what she has too to get what she wants.
Arthur was someone who had to start growing up fast because he was now in a real position of power. Still he had his moments or young passion for Guinevere (who is married to one of his knights). It should have been much more interesting. A lot of the time, I didn't care for Jamie Bower's acting.
After watching the entire series in order, there was plenty of room for improvement. Some of the side characters get very little screen time. One of Arthur's knight gets only a handful of lines through the entire show before getting killed off. One of the later episodes features a subplot that is supposed to be a big character moment-but the events would have made a lot more sense if it had been mentioned earlier in the show. Really it comes out of nowhere and the show treats it like we're supposed to have known about it all this time. (I know in some of this I'm being vague, but I want to gauge the room before going into spoiler territory.)
Overall, I'd give this series a C+. Maybe a B-. There were some really good episodes, some good ideas which would have made the show more interesting had it continued. And it was obvious, they wanted another season but low ratings, mixed reviews and cast schedule conflicts killed this show after its first season. It moved a little too slowly at times, but still tried to get a lot in during its first season.
Liked it, just wish it could have been more.