The third season of Merlin
leaps out of the gate like a thoroughbred, plunging into Arthurian legend and adolescent passions with gusto. It's as if the first two seasons were just treading water; the best of these 13 episodes grapple with the shift in power from the increasingly oblivious Uther Pendragon (Anthony Head of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
) to the still headstrong but maturing Arthur (prom-king imperious Bradley James). The linchpin of everything is the young wizard Merlin (geeky dreamboat Colin Morgan), who's stepping out from under the wing of his mentor Gaius (Richard Wilson, One Foot in the Grave
) to make his own decisions and flex some magical muscle. Countering Merlin is the duplicitous Morgana (creamy-skinned Katie McGrath), who returns to Camelot as a spy for the openly villainous Morgause (Emilia Fox). These two scheme to destroy Uther for his campaign against magic. There are still stand-alone episodes (several emphasizing humor, such as Gaius being possessed by a goblin or when Arthur is pressured to marry a bewitched princess) and computer-generated beasties (wyverns, manticores, and of course the last dragon, voiced by John Hurt). But the bulk of the season digs into the rapidly developing mythology of Camelot, from Excalibur to the Round Table to Arthur's romance with Guinevere (Angel Coulby), who in this series is maidservant to Morgana. The tone is darker and more dramatic, but the young cast has grown enough to carry it off. The writing is less glib and juvenile, without losing the hyperbolic emotions that drive teenage life. All in all, The Adventures of Merlin
is as addictive as ever while growing thematically richer and more emotionally complex. Extras include a making-of documentary, deleted scenes and outtakes, and episode commentaries. --Bret Fetzer
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 while King Uther redoubles his war against magic. Featuring exciting new villains, white-knuckle stunt sequences, and spectacular CGI monsters, Merlin season three is more thrilling than ever.