There’s some pleasingly childish humour (‘you’re a dollop-head’) and otherwise we leap straight in with the oppressive atmosphere, full of smoke and mirrors. This is the main theme of this good-looking series: as well as the battles and the magic, everyone’s keeping secrets. There’s Merlin himself, of course, all too aware that magic is feared and punishable by death, while the other characters all have other dark secrets that will doubtless be hinted at in the upcoming 13 episodes. All of this results in a pretty smart children’s drama, certainly more so than the disappointing Robin Hood that troubled the winter schedules in recent years.
Essentially, this is still Smallville mixed in with Buffy with a hefty dollop of Catweazle, and as such is good fun, a series of swords and conspiracy. There’s a brief stop-off to remind us what went on last series, and then we’re back to business as Morgana is up to her old tricks, scheming and plotting, and clearly an expert in the rule that dictates that once a trusted colleague has turned their back, it’s absolutely required that you arch your eyebrow and grin evilly to camera, whilst all the time being seemingly impervious to any suspicion.
There are a couple of moments that are genuinely terrifying for the youngest of the youngsters watching (be worried when Luther approaches a well), but this is well-constructed drama, perfect for the onset of the nights drawing in and a great Saturday night programme for the family to enjoy.
Airs at 7.45pm on Saturday 11th September 2010 on BBC One.