Movies / Home Theatre

The Adventures of Merlin: the Complete Second Season


By Chris Zimmerman
January 25, 2011 - 10:57

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For countless years, Arthurian lore has been steeped in popculture, inspiring diverse adaptations in a wide variety of media that spans generations. As time passes, a new twist is peppered into the mythology to spice up the legend for a new generation of fans. To that end, the Adventures of Merlin is a perfect example of the legend redefined for today’s audience.

The second season had much to live up to after the surprisingly strong effort laid down by the first. The relationship between Arthur, Morgana, and Merlin was at the forefront of the series, with hints of the future sprinkled about for those familiar with the character’s fates. With that in mind, the show runners decided to follow up their success with a retread from what was presented in the first. This is a mixed bag of sorts as the first season was good but the lack of character development aside from Morgana hurt the series.

The second season takes many of its cues from the first, with many of the instances and circumstances being repeated verbatim. Camelot is still under Uther’s control and the use of magic is punishable by death. Merlin still hides his abilities and Arthur has shown to be as conceited as ever. Even Mordred arrives in the same fashion he had previously, dropping clues relating to his hand in Arthur’s fate but the major development comes in the form of Morgana’s increasingly unstable use of magic.

Morgana’s use of magic places her at odds with Uther’s proclamation, causing her to look to other means for support. This sets up nicely for Morgana’s eventual turn to the dark side, as she comes to sympathize with those hurt under the king’s rule.

One of the pleasant things about the season is Uther’s justification for hating magic. Rather than being prejudiced out of fear or naivety, the past season showed how magic had nearly torn apart his life, with this season building on that, with one magical attack after another hurled at him.
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There are two flaws with this season, the lesser of which being the special effects. The CGI is readily apparent and blends pitifully with the real world.
The season’s stronger flaw lies in its predictability. A typical episode will usually involve a series of problems caused by magic, thus spurring Merlin into action while struggling to keep his abilities a secret. This causes much of the events of the season to feel like filler and nonessential.

Fortunately, the good far outweighs the bad, with outstanding performances carrying the bulk of the show. Anthony Stuart Head is right at home as the domineering king and Katie McGrath turns in a wonderfully conflicted Morgana. Bradley James and Colin Morgan make for a comical pair as Arthur and Merlin, verbally jousting and digging under each other’s skin while at the same time displaying a sense of brotherhood.
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In addition to several episode commentary’s there are some featurretes putting the season under the microscope. There is a bit of the common place back patting that comes with most features these days, however there are some interesting tidbits that can be gleaned pertaining to the actual filming of the series.

As a second season, Merlin is far too similar to the first. Luckily the first season was great and thus doesn’t hurt the series entirely but the growth in characters is disappointing. Fortunately, the conclusion leaves quite a bit of possibility for the third and looks to shake the series to its core.

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Last Updated: May 19, 2020 - 12:25

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