Last weekend Merlin returned to British television screens with the first half of the two-part opening episode of series 4. I do think that the BBC could’ve done a better job of advertising the date on which Merlin was to be released as I distinctly remember one advert saying that it would begin again in October, with no specific date. It’s quite lucky that I happened to be checking the television guide to find out what time the series finale of Doctor Who (which was incredible by the way) was on otherwise I probably wouldn’t have known Merlin was starting again! Though, I couldn’t have asked for anything better than the premise of Merlin and the finale of Doctor Who in succession, so props to the BBC.
The Darkest Hour is set one year after The Coming of Arthur, but to be honest, not a lot has changed in Camelot. The biggest difference would probably be the health of Uther, who seems to have rapidly deteriorated from a head strong King to a weak and frail man who sits in his chair all day and stares absent mindedly out the window. Part one opens with Morgana opening up the veil to the spirit world unleashing the spirits of the dead back into the world causing havoc. Arthur and his knights then travel to the Island of the Blessed to try and close the veil; however, they encounter some dangerous difficulties along the way and there one character doesn’t return.
It was great to see that the essence of Merlin is still alive and kicking as the banter continues between Arthur and Merlin. The opening credits have been updated and now contain glimpses of Athur kissing Gwen, Morgana doing something evil and Merlin with a beard i.e. disguised as Dragon the Great (again).
We welcome the arrival of Nathaniel Parker who plays Arthur’s shady uncle, we’ll have to wait and see as to whether he’ll be here to stay or not.What disappoints me most about this new series, is that there has been no obvious attempt to better the CGI effects of this. I’ve always felt that the fear factor of the creatures and beasts in Merlin is significantly diminished due to the poor quality of the visual effects and I’m sad that they haven’t tried to rectify this yet.
This is a great shame as mythical creatures play a very large role in Merlin, as you can imagine, so I do believe it is important to have believable and real-looking monsters. Even Merlin as an old and wise warlock is just hilarious because it looks like Colin Morgan in a beard … Which I guess, if you think about it, is exactly what it is. But the whole beauty of screenplay and modern technology is that it shouldn’t look like it’s an actor in a beard, but an actual warlock.
There are many many lists of rumours about series 4 of Merlin currently on the internet, ‘confirmed’ and speculations and I won’t reveal those spoilers to those of you who’d rather wait and watch, but it looks like it’s going to be a very exciting series! Questions at the forefront of most people’s minds are: whether or not Merlin will reveal his identity to Arthur, whether Arthur and Gwen will progress in their relationship despite the social barriers, what happened to the Dragon after Merlin set it free, and what new tricks Morgana’s got hidden up her sleeve.