The cast and crew of BBC One’s ‘other’ Saturday evening family drama obviously love their show and this really shines through in the finished programme.
Series 3 begins a year after the disappearance of Morgana, with Uther (Anthony Head) still searching the kingdom for her whilst most others have given up hope of her returning. Of course find her they do, and the valiant and ever gullible Prince Arthur (Bradley James) brings her safely home to Camelot. Inevitably, all is not as it seems and she quickly hooks up with Morgause (Silent Witness star Emilia Fox) and the plotting to overthrow Uther Pendragon begins again…
The best series of Merlin to date owes much to some stellar performances from the main and supporting cast, particularly Katie McGrath as Morgana. As the 13 episodes unfold, McGrath carries off Morgana’s darkening personality convincingly and with gusto, switching between a light, sweet facade and a conniving traitorous darkness.
Another plus point to this series is the playing down of the Dragon. The giant reptile still makes cameo appearances, beautifully voiced again by John Hurt, but this year’s sparser use of the CGI character certainly makes it easier to suspend your disbelief, leaving Merlin more room to save the day with some well-timed magic. The producers also seem to have recognised that the viewing figures go up when the male eye-candy quotient goes up, with plenty of pecs and biceps on show throughout the run.
Series highlights include ‘Goblin’s Gold’, a lighter, funny episode which allows One Foot In The Grave‘s Richard Wilson to stretch his comedic muscles once more when Gaius is possessed. However, for sheer scale and the epic quality with which it’s told, the two-part series finale ‘The Coming Of Arthur’ is very hard to top, teasingly setting up the long-awaited arrival of the Knights of the Round Table for Series 4.
Released on DVD on Monday 24th January 2011 by Fremantle Home Entertainment.