Merlin [2010] (BBC) Season 3. 13 Episodes

When last we left Merlin (which had a great season one), he had survived a lackluster, slightly misguided season two.  Honestly, while we had hopes for a good season three, we were not expecting it.  So it is with pleasant surprise that we can say Merlin regained its footing in 2010.

Even the Fisher King, bored for hundreds of years found the second season wanting.

There are fairies this season, but believe us; this ain’t Winx Club.

In season one Merlin came to Camelot, found himself, and battled the villain Nimue -one who has yet to be equaled in coolness and drama.  In season two Merlin himself became unfocused as the misguided season arc.  He battled Rodents of Unusual Size (R.O.U.S.).

A glimpse of the Merlin we might see some time in the future.  Does Camelot have a senior discount?

Camelot reacts to their team losing to Detroit in the NBA finals…

Season three in a sentence:  With only a short diversion fighting a goblin and none falling in love, Merlin battles the evil Morgausse, conniving Morgana, brigands, slavers and two undead armies while occasionally calling upon a dragon, acting as a match-maker, and along with his trusty old sidekick Gaius keeping the forces of eeeevil from toppling uber-dork King Uther before it is Arthur’s time to ascend.

Ahh Gaius, is this “normal” behavior?

Morgana is handy with a sword too. (And knows how to strike a pose!)

Focus.  That is what the show had in a year that could also be called, “Morgana: The Evil Looks Season”. She literally must have heard twice every shooting day from the director, “Okay, now look off into the distance evilly.”

She does still have a lovely jaw.  But the evil looks…  Oh the evil looks.  You do not have to search hard…

We can do this all day. …ALL… DAY…  *sigh*

The two  off-arc comedic episodes did thankfully not derail the overall tenor of the season.  Arthur is finally coming into his own, kept his slapstick to a minimum and did not try to cook.  Oh, there was plenty of comedic banter between Arthur and Merlin, but it was well paced, sparingly placed and in good taste.

Yes Arthur, it’s ROUND…. Okay!

Sir Gwain, Sir Perceival, Sir Lancelot. Boldness, strength, and uh, someone who will eventually sleep with your wife?

However you may wonder what magic really is this season because the sorcerer’s weapon of choice was incessantly the “force push”.  It is cheap to do.  A little glowing eyes animation and a wire pull on a stunt man.  There, your enemy is flying into a wall.  It just does not carry much magical thrill.  Very X-Men.  There was occasionally slightly more interesting magic on the bad guy’s side.  We hope magic can be explored more widely next season.

“Oh no. Not… magic… chains…”

“How about a little fire scarecrow!”

“Wait, we know how this ends, right?  It’s depressing.”  Yes, just about every character we are being introduced to meets some sort of sad future.  The story of Arthur and his knights, Merlin, Morgana and Guinevere spirals into  betrayal and death for most of them.  But the show, launched as a sort of “Young Arthur” was originally far from that.  However what choice did it ultimately have?  Move forward -or stagnate (see last season).  At least there are a couple decades of Camelot’s golden years before the fall.

Unless of course Camelot is first destroyed by these computer generated armies.

It took us three seasons to finally get to these classic images.

The dragon did little this season, but we are okay with that.  Our concern was that free from its chains it was going to be called upon to get Merlin out of every jam.  Thankfully it was not.

They stretched their effects budget pretty well.  We can only imagine the producer’s looks when the writers pitched the rising army of undead skeletons in the first episode.  However that did not stop them from another massive siege at season’s end with an undead (but still affordable human form) army.

They made better choices in season three than in two.  The writing was better with only occasional cliches.  I mean come on, is there a person on Earth that still believes it is good when a bad guy answers your request for payment with the phrase You shall get what you deserve?  Puuullease.

Bad guy checklist: Interfering foreground objects? Check. Funny collar? Check. Facial hair and scars? Double check. Hand held camera for the scene? Yes, bonus points!

Red capes last about as long as the original Star Trek’s red shirts. But Sir Leon amazingly lived through the whole season!

Turning a show around after a disappointing season may be harder than launching a good one.  Props to the Merlin producers for accomplishing this sadly uncommon feat.  Let us hope the good trend continues.

Merlin’s “blasting rod” stays hidden under the bed for just about the whole season. Although he did break it out to fight… Wyverns? No. Undead armies? No. Manticores?  No.  Fairies? Uh, yes…

Our Takes on all the Merlin Seasons:

Merlin [2008] Season 1

Merlin [2009] Season 2

Merlin [2010] Season 3

Merlin [2011] Season 4

Merlin [2011] Season 5



6 thoughts on “Merlin [2010] (BBC) Season 3. 13 Episodes

  1. 🙂 I have never really like Katie as Morgana as she has only one expression on her face which is bewildered/confused which she applies to all scenes from happy to sad to pain to panicked. In the third season she adds one more expression to her acting skills – the ” plotting/evil/I-am-up-to-no-good” look which she drops at the end of every sentence. Seriously how come a room full of people never notice it is beyond me

    • Ha! That is so funny and in many ways true regarding the look she did “at the end of every sentence”. And true, how come no one noticed even when there were so many people around? It was not very hard to find her “evil look” caps.

      We are probably more fans of McGrath here than you. We are willing to put up with her facial expressions because:
      a) The whole cast is not exactly Lawrence Olivier.
      b) Her casting as Morgana is more fitting to the historical look of the part than some of the others.
      c) She does have a lovely jaw. 😉

  2. Great post. I loved the comment about the comparison of the red capes to the red shirts of Star Trek.
    I think Merlin is an entertaining fantasy series and I kind of like the ‘what if’ they all grew up together. Kind of like an Arthur 90210. In my opinion myths are meant to play with because after all, they are myths and not true history anyway.

    • What? You mean King Arthur was not real?! *hopes dashed* Ha.

      But we see your point. There is room out there for interpretations of myths that at least stay true to the spirit of the common perception. Though Merlin and Smallville for another example occasionally veer from that, they have offered ample content and entertainment for their slight liberties.

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