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Get With the Program: Merlin Seasons 1 and 2 

I had heard a few friends talk about this show. I thought I knew a lot about the Arthurian legend so I figured I wouldn’t find Merlin that interesting. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only is it vastly superior to another recent series about this time and place (I’m talking to you, Camelot) but I love that Merlin is the main character. Colin Morgan is such a winning lead. I find him so believable and likable that I almost don’t care how often he manages to get himself (and others) into trouble. If you’re not watching this great show let me convince you.

The Cast

I will always and forever love Anthony Stewart Head. Yes, I watched and will forever love Buffy. I enjoy seeing him play such a different type of character here. Sometimes I get mad and shout at the TV because he’s so intolerant about magic and other times I sigh with happiness because he’s actually telling Arthur or Morgana how much he loves them. He’s a great example of what Arthur and Morgana should never become.

All the rest of the cast is new to me and I’m delighted by each and every one of them. Let me count the ways.

Katie McGrath‘s Morgana is probably the weakest link in this chain(mail) but I still really enjoy her. I liked her story in Season 1 but I felt like her transistion into darkness wasn’t quite earned in Season 2 – and she didn’t even go that dark. I thought there might be something between her and Merlin, but that was before he tried to kill her. I am looking forward to her watching her go further into dark magic.

Richard Wilson‘s Gaius is such a great mentor/father figure for Merlin. I love that he sacrificed himself for Merlin at the end of Season 1 and that Merlin was able to save him. I like that Merlin is still his apprentice in so many ways, when he’s not off getting himself into trouble with Arthur. I think Gaius’s relationship with Uther is complex and interesting. They’ve got a lot of history but it only gets Gaius so far with the king. I would like to see Gaius a bit more involved in Merlin’s magical training, but since it’s so dangerous I doubt that’ll happen.

Angel Coulby‘s Gwen is such a great surprise. I’m so used to seeing Gwen as royalty in training so it’s refreshing to see her in such a different role. I love her chemistry and developing relationship with Arthur. I can’t wait until these two are really together, but in the meantime I’m enjoying seeing them apart.

Bradley James‘ Arthur started out as such a pratt. I love the way he and Merlin began their relationship and it’s been so much fun to see it evolve into a true friendship, almost a brotherhood. This is my most favorite relationship on the show because there is so much unsaid and so much that must remain hidden. I look forward to a day when Arthur can know Merlin for who he really is.

Colin Morgan’s Merlin is kind of a revelation. I mentioned I’m a fan, right? He is really pitch perfect as Merlin. I feel for him when he’s in pain or has to make a difficult decision, I agree with him when he’s putting Arthur in his place, and I laugh with him when he’s making fun of himself or Arthur. I’m so invested in seeing him become who he’s destined to be. I like the way this journey is progressing and I like that Merlin is finally ready to start making – and sticking with – some tough decisions.

The storylines

I probably like the show best when it’s funny, but I enjoy the dramatic episodes as well. My favorite funny episodes are “Beauty and the Beast Part 1,” “Beauty and the Beast Part 2,” and “Sweet Dream.” “Beauty and the Beast” parts 1 and 2 had me giggling like a school girl. I love that Uther is duped and made to look like a complete ass by a troll. It serves him right for being so high and mighty all the time. And not only did I love the ridiculousness of Arthur and Vivian’s “love”  in “Sweet Dreams” but seeing Gwen jealous was priceless. Seeing Arthur and Gwen’s true love’s kiss made putting put with that horrid Vivian worth it.

My favorite dramatic episodes “The Lady of the Lake” and “The Last Dragonlord” showcased how wonderfully moving Colin Morgan’s performance can be. I loved seeing him fall in love with Freya and realize just what kind of person he fell for. It was so heartbreaking. I cried with him.  I, like him, cherished the too-brief time he got to spend with his father, the last Dragonlord. And that he couldn’t share what he was going through with Arthur? It almost killed me. I so want him to confide in Arthur and be able to tell him everything.

See how passionate I am? All my favorite episodes are from season 2, but don’t think season 1 isn’t good. It’s great, but I don’t think I was fully committed until after the first episode of season 2. I feel like the writers and actors (and everyone who works on the show) are in sync and really invested in putting out an interesting, challenging, quality show. I’m deciding whether or not to wait for Syfy to re-air season 3 or catch up some other way. I don’t know if I can wait. No matter what I decide to do, I will be watching season 4 in real time and I can’t wait to see what Merlin, Arthur, and the gang are up to next.

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