Admittedly, it’s not the best re-telling of the Merlin legend ever made. In fact, it’s not even a close second. But, despite all of its inherent flaws, NBC’s summer series, Merlin, does have a certain charm about it.
Merlin isn’t an original series from NBC. It’s an import from the BBC that was produced back in 2008. And while the production values rival those of Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules, the lead actor who plays Merlin has a certain charisma that piques one’s interest about the series.
However, this isn’t a grade A-level show by any stretch of the imagination. But if reruns, investigative dramas, and reality shows with F-list celebs are wearing on your nerves during this summer TV season, Merlin may be the pithy escapist fare you’re looking for.
The Merlin/King Arthur legends have been told and retold for centuries. Even NBC did a miniseries back in 1998 with Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) in the lead role. This series attacks the legend from its origins. Merlin arrives in Camelot as a young boy. His magic powers must be kept secret for the King (Anthony Head) executes anyone who utilizes “enchantments” in his kingdom. The King’s son is the future King Arthur (Bradley James).
What follows is Merlin (Colin Morgan) trying to keep his powers a secret, while using them to aid in the protection and safety of Camelot. The special effects are second-rate, but this isn’t Masterpiece Theatre, it’s a BBC import on the NBC summer schedule.
One last note that I have to mention because it’s the 800-pound elephant in the room: Gwen (Angel Coulby). Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that in the legend Guinevere was a beautiful, spirited, young woman whom men would fight over for her hand. What we get here is a Gwen who isn’t a 10…or an 8…or a 5.
Not only is she not believable as a love interest, she’s also not that good in the talent department. While I have nothing against the actress playing Gwen, I do think that this was a horrible casting choice that detracts from the appeal of the series.
Does this make me a male chauvinist pig? Okay. But wouldn’t we all rather see Megan Fox (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) as Gwen instead? I know I would!
For mindless summer fun, I can recommend the BBC series Merlin. The show premieres Sunday, June 21 at 8/7c on NBC. Check local listings.
**NOTE: This is a series that is safe for the whole family to watch, and you could find the Knights of the Round Table stories to read to your kids if they are interested in learning more about the world of Camelot.
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