Merlin: Season 2
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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.
Arthurian legend meets Beverly Hills 90210 in this BBC series that imagines the lives of King Arthur and the wizard Merlin as teenagers. The show takes any number of liberties with the traditional mythos, but two are crucial: Arthur's father, Uther (Anthony Head, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), has banished magic from Camelot on pain of death; and Guinevere (Angel Coulby), Arthur's destined queen, is the servant of Uther's ward, Morgana (Katie McGrath), setting up a class schism between her and Arthur (Bradley James). This developing romance is one of the strongest throughlines of the second season, which also sees Morgana cultivating her magical powers and Merlin (Colin Morgan) learning about his mysterious father. In fact, season 2 is much more about Arthur than Merlin--episode after episode features Arthur maturing, learning a little humility and patience whilst engaging in a lot of swordplay and jousting, while Merlin spends a lot of time observing from the sidelines and muttering the occasional spell. (Though fans of the young sorcerer shouldn't fear--Merlin has plenty of dashing moments himself.)
The special effects budget has clearly been upped--the show teems with monstrous creatures, including gargoyles, giant scorpions, a troll, a were-panther, and of course the last dragon from season 1 (voiced by John Hurt, Alien, 1984). Merlin has its flaws; the young actors seem more modern than Arthurian thanks to their wonderful teeth and contemporary attitudes, and the scripts and direction can be a bit pedestrian. But that's not what connects viewers to the show--it's the passions of adolescence merged with the pageantry and derring-do of British legends, enacted by a charismatic cast. The climactic episodes will leave fans hungry for season 3. In addition to 13 episodes, Merlin: The Complete Second Season offers an entire disc of behind-the-scenes footage and other extras. --Bret Fetzer
Cast and Crew audio commentaries
Behind the Scenes
The Making of Merlin
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Everything about the show is first rate. The show is very entertaining, and a real treat to watch something besides graphic police shows. The second season finds Prince Arthur falling in love with Guinevere; a return visit from Lancelot; Morgana is becoming more aware of her magic; and a couple more surprises. Lots of action and magic.
My only objection is the price is a little high for only 13 shows, so I waited for it to go on sale. It's too bad they didn't do more than 13 shows in a "season". There ARE English subtitles for the hearing impaired and some interesting extras on the making of Merlin. I would highly recommend this series.
Merlin is addictive, plain and simple. Colin Morgan and Bradley James just got under my freaking skin, with their comic timing and their surprisingly sincere acting chops and their unique British adorableness and their epic chemistry levels. And wouldn't you know it, I'm even taking the terrible CGI John Hurt dragon seriously now. It's nothing short of magic, and there's nothing on television quite like it. What I feel for Merlin now is just true love -- plot holes, inconsistent characterizations, trolls and all.
Season 2 continues quite compellingly from the first. It contains some of my favorite episodes from the whole show, introduces a badass female villain, develops some important character relationships (hello, whiplash-inducing epic romances!), and ends with a breathlessly-awesome finale.
This season does contain the fantastically-embarrassing two-parter, "Beauty and the Beast;" yet even THAT will grow on you eventually if you love this show enough. And I do. Lord help me.
Colin Morgan (Merlin) and Bradley James (Prince Arthur) continue to entertain us with their humorous banter, their very real acting skills, and their visual appeal. Morgan's Merlin, a gawky youth with an elfin face (and ears) and an interesting, offbeat beauty, is still burdened with the secret of his magical powers (magic having been banned in Camelot by Arthur's father, King Uther Pendragon). As manservant to the arrogant, if courageous and essentially good-hearted Arthur, he must deal with the prince's frequent prattishness and verbal abuse ("Mer-lin, you idiot!"), yet save his life in practically every episode. Morgan gives the young warlock an endearing awkwardness and gentle sensitivity combined with a fierce determination to protect the crown prince from whatever monster or villainous sorcerer happens to be passing through Camelot each week. Arthur, one of the handsomest twenty-something blonds-in-armor you could ever hope to meet, is nicely played by James with just the right amount of swagger, bravado (combined with hidden insecurities), and an excellent sense of comic timing. Katie McGrath, as King Uther's ward, the beautiful and conflicted Morgana, and Angel Coulby as Guinevere (Morgana's maidservant in this alternative Arthurian universe), provide the only feminine element in what is essentially a man's world of knights and squires and clanking armor. Guest performers include Emilia Fox as the mysterious Morgause, Mackenzie Crook as a thief who becomes possessed by the spirit of an evil wizard, Sarah Parish as a lovely noblewoman who is really a troll in disguise, Santiago Cabrera as that honorable warrior-hunk, Lancelot, Laura Donnelly as Merlin's fleeting love interest, young Asa Butterfield as the child Mordred, and John Lynch as a long-banished Dragonlord who may have closer ties to Merlin than a mere similarity of magical gifts.
The regular cast members of the older generation - Anthony Head as King Uther (who tries to do right by his kingdom, but fears and despises anybody gifted with magic), Richard Wilson as Gaius, the court physician and Merlin's friend and guardian, and John Hurt, who provides the voice of the Great Dragon - are as good as they were during the first season, and provide a nice foil to the lively enthusiasm of the junior performers. A welcome addition to the latter group is Rupert Young as Sir Leon, one of the most dedicated of the younger knights. I'll not provide any spoilers for Season 3 (coming soon to DVD, I hope?) except to say that the future adventures of our young heroes involve yet another horde of magical creatures, a former friend turning enemy, and the first references to a certain famous table of circular shape.
Note: Season 2 of "Merlin" was broadcast in the U.S. on the Syfy channel; however, due to the time required for commercial breaks, scenes were cut from the BBC episodes, including one major scene from the final episode of the season. Therefore, Merlin fans will find it definitely worth their while to purchase this set of DVDs.