Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Adventures of Merlin - Season 1

Magic is his destiny
     Well, I was FINALLY able to watch season 1 of Merlin and all I can say is that I am totally 100% obsessed with it! I love everything from the storyline, to the characters, the music, the costumes, all of it. It is such an interesting and new take on the popular Arthurian legends that I find myself loving it more and more after each episode. 

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Secret Sorcerer
Colin Morgan as Merlin
Instead of an old, grey, wizened wizard who always has the right answers, this Merlin is young, handsome and constantly looking for the answers to his complicated life. Before he could talk, he could move objects with his mind and would rather spend time practicing spells than having a regular social life. Upon the concern of his mother, Merlin leaves his quiet home to set out to the large kingdom of Camelot, only to discover that magic and the practice of it is illegal and punishable by death. Now only his guardian, Gaius the court physician, can know his secret.

Keeping your magic undercover is harder than it looks, especially when Merlin finds himself in constant trouble and needs a quick getaway. His hardest problem doesn't come in the form of any general danger, but in his unlikely destiny. That being, protecting the arrogant and selfish Prince Arthur and helping take the throne of Camelot. Merlin is anything but thrilled with this idea of 'destiny fulfillment,' but doesn't have much of choice when he becomes Arthur's manservant after he (surprise, surprise) saves his life.

Now Merlin must be Arthur's personal whipping boy and Gaius' constantly confused assistant, while practicing sorcery in secret. Tough load, but Merlin is gifted in more ways than one. His generous attitude, quick mind and hardworking spirit gets him through just about any situation. Not to mention the friendships of Lady Morgana and her maidservant Guinevere or Gwen.

Fulfilling destiny, especially your own, can seem a lot when you're a young and awkward teenager who has never had an ordinary moment in his life. Merlin is determined to prove himself to Gaius, Arthur and Camelot that there's more to him than what meets the eye.

I really don't think the show would have the popularity it gained were it not for Colin Morgan's wonderful representation of such a well loved legend. Not only was he charming and funny, he also was able to convey the ordinary teenage emotions and issues that come with the territory of being the new guy in town. From dealing with bullies to accepting yourself for who you are and realizing that your gifts and talents are a better use for the people around you than for your own gain.

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Prince Arthur
Prince of Camelot
Bradley James as Prince Arthur

My first thought when I saw Prince Arthur was that he really looked like the quintessential storybook prince. Tall and handsome, but also spoiled and arrogant, Arthur is use to getting his own way and woe be to anyone who tells him otherwise. Sadly, Merlin, the new guy in the palace, didn't know this when he told Arthur to lay off of bullying a young servant. That one fatal mistake took Merlin to prison, then the stocks (where he got a great fan club of children) and then Arthur's primary target for fun. After Merlin saves Arthur's life from a crazed witch, King Uther, Arthur's father, makes Merlin Arthur's manservant.

Can you sense the excitement?
Overtime, Merlin and Arthur get use to one another, but oftentimes a master/servant relationship where the master and servant despise one another is anything but easy. Arthur does everything in his power to make Merlin's life an inevitable hell. Only when Merlin sacrifices himself for Arthur, does the young prince begin to understand that maybe is isn't always about him and sets out on a dangerous journey to save Merlin. Yet, change is slow in coming. Arthur never misses an opportunity to put Merlin down, he works him to exhaustion and is always blaming him for his own shortcomings.

Although, underneath that self-confident facade is a young boy who feels the pressure of being next in line to the throne of Camelot, desperately trying to please his strict father and never seems to find himself good enough. Being a secret sorcerer was difficult, but being the crown prince to a mighty kingdom is a whole other issue. There are rare occasions when Arthur lets his guard down and a few people are able to see a spoiled brat who could become a loyal friend and a deprecating prince who could become a great king. 

Like with Merlin, seeing a young and handsome Arthur before he becomes a powerful king was very new to me, but Bradley James made him completely believable as well (on some occasions) lovable. His on screen camaraderie with Colin Morgan was nothing short of perfect, they are hilarious together and each episode with the two of them together is better then the last.

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Lady Morgana
First Lady of Camelot
 Katie McGrath as Lady Morgana

The ward of King Uther, foster sister (and potential lover) to Prince Arthur and most sought after lady in Camelot, Lady Morgana seems to have the perfect life. At first she seems just as spoiled and self-centered as Arthur, but Morgana is much more than what she seems. Her best friend is her own maidservant Guinevere (Gwen) and she  immediately befriends Merlin. She is willing to put her life on the line to save a young druid boy, travel underneath the palace to fight an evil seas monster, defend Gwen when she is unjustly accused of being a witch, travel with Merlin to defend his home and even confront King Uther on his harsh resentment of magic.

Morgana can use her beauty and charm to get any man (mainly Arthur) to do her bidding, but her intelligence and will of iron are her greatest assets. She has a genuine kindness toward others her are considered below her and isn't afraid to fight for what she believes is right.

Katie Mcgrath's elegance and beauty made her perfect this time period; she reminds me of a living Snow White in many ways. She gives a personable charm to her character, but also had an element of mystery and intrigue which works well as the story of Morgana goes deeper and deeper.

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Guinevere "Gwen"
Friend and confidante 
Angel Coulby as Guinevere "Gwen"
Kind, loyal and the epitome of true friendship, Guinevere is more than a maidservant, she is a constant source of hope and light to those around her. In spite of her humble surroundings, Gwen is proud of who she is and even prouder of who she serves, the Lady Morgana, whom she considers her closest friend.

Upon Merlin's arrival, Gwen is the first person to befriend him (while he was in the stocks) and afterwards helps him accomplish what needs to be done, even though it may risk her job or her life. Gwen does not judge by appearances and always gives a person the benefit of the doubt. At the same time she is strong and even stubborn and contains a strong sense of right and wrong, even when she herself is wronged.

Angel Coulby beautifully portrays Gwen in every way imaginable! I loved her immediately and I was very interested at the idea of making Gwen a servant instead of a princess or a lady, making it proof the great things can come from the humblest of beginnings.

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Being a fantasy lover myself  (Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz, The Chronicles of Narnia), I immediately found Merlin a new world of mystery, magic and usually mayhem. I've told my family that if they love Harry Potter they will love this series. I also see many elements of "The Princess Bride" (another favorite fantasy movie) in the Merlin series which make it all the more lovable and fun.

After seeing season 1, I immediately knew that I had to get season 2 which is already amazing! This is very quickly becoming one of my favorite series and it just keeps getting better and better.  

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