Merlin: Review: Series 1 Ep 1: The Dragon’s Call

Young Merlin is sent from his home village to live at Camelot castle – where any practice of magic is strictly forbidden…

It might take a little bit of time to get going, and go through a few clichés along the way, but this first episode of BBC One’s new Saturday night drama is good fun. Through the first episode, the series’ two central characters are clearly defined, and a neat twist towards the end means that Merlin and Arthur find their lives inextricably linked.

What would otherwise be the central plot of the episode (in which Torchwood‘s Eve Myles (pictured) plays a sorceress who’s come to Camelot to get revenge on Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon) is sensibly relegated to B-status, as we learn about the court through newcomer Merlin’s eyes. The Merlin/Arthur relationship has elements of high school drama, but with the added element that Arthur really is superior – he doesn’t just think he is!

Many of the supporting characters are painted in broad strokes, notably Guinevere and Morgana, but there’ll be plenty of time for them to receive more attention in the rest of the series. Tony Head, as Uther Pendragon, instantly makes his mark, and it will be intriguing to learn just why he hates magic so much.

Yes, it’s a Smallville version of the Arthurian legends, and if you’ve seen the first Shrek film recently, it might be quite hard to take the dragon totally seriously, but The Dragon’s Call has plenty of potential.

Verdict: A promising start.  7/10

Paul Simpson

Episode 2: Valiant >>>

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