Merlin is a programme that’s taken an increasingly darker tone with each new series – as has been shown with its broadcast time moving later into a Saturday evening, and this series being the final run, with good ratings leading to it also being sold abroad to the likes of NBC and Syfy, as well as it being a big hit on the BBC iPlayer catch-up service.
The two lead characters, Merlin (Colin Morgan) and Arthur (Bradley James) are sometimes at loggerheads, there are great production values and it attracts great British talent such as Lindsay Duncan as Queen Annis Liam Cunningham as Ruadan, father of Sefa (Sophie Rundle) – who you just know is going to be a wrong-un from the start, Anthony Head as Arthur’s father, King Uther – a regular in the first four series and a guest in this one, Richard Wilson as Gaius, Camelot’s court physician and Merlin’s guardian and mentor, Katie McGrath as the enigmatic Morgana and the omnipresent John Hurt as the voice of the Dragon.
It’s easy to see why it became a big success and appeals to all ages, with some nice comic touches amongst the dark moments, such as when Merlin loses his magic in the penultimate episode, and most of the menacing behaviour from Morgana, and you can ignore those few boneheads watching Points of View having a moan about beer cans appearing on a table in an earlier episode, as well as other slight elements. It’s a TV show, it’s not a documentary(!)
Presented in the original 16:9 broadcast ratio with and in 1080p high definition, the print gives a crisp and clear image with a fantastic quality transfer
Audio-wise, the programme is presented in DTS 5.1, according to my Blu-ray player – even though the back of the boxset states ‘Stereo’, but I didn’t notice anything in particular happening in the rear speakers. That said, there are no problems with the sound, and DTS 5.1 is a step-up from the first three series’ stereo soundtrack.
There’s a good set of extras here, which are as follows:
- Deleted scenes (16:08): A few apiece from episodes 1-7, 10, 12 and 13, the most coming from ep.3 at 5mins 35seconds.
- Outtakes (8:53): Lots of them from the series, making for a very amusing 9 minutes.
- Storyboards (15:09): Many from the series.
- Superfans Videos (16:52): Eleven of them in total. I think the best were the first and the eighth, the latter featuring Lego characters.
- Making of Merlin (24:56): On-set filming and clips, all mixed in with chat from the key cast and crew.
- Trailers: One for Warwick Castle (0:10), and one for Merlin: The Game (0:50).
- Audio commentaries: One apiece for episodes 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10 and 13, featuring various cast and crew members.
The menu has a neat use of graphics featuring Merlin’s quarters, there are subtitles in English, but sadly a lacking amount of chapters with just FOUR across each 43-minute episode.
Running time: 8 * 43 minutes
Cat no: FHEB2958
Released: January 21st 2013
Chapters: 8 * 4
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio
Disc Format: 5*BD50
Directors: Justin Molotnikov, Ashley Way, Alice Troughton and Declan O’Dwyer
Writers: Julian Jones, Howard Overman, Jake Michie and Richard McBrien
Merlin: Colin Morgan
Arthur Pendragon: Bradley James
Guinevere: Angel Coulby
Morgana: Katie McGrath
Gaius: Richard Wilson
Voice of The Great Dragon: John Hurt
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.