As far as I know, I am the only person in North America who watches Merlin. Objectively, I know this is not the case, since SyFy boasted some significant ratings for the show, but I have no idea who those people are. I think they might all be on Tumblr. Is it just me and a bunch of teenage girls? In all likelihood, yes.
This does not stop my enthusiasm for the show, or the fact that I was pleased to see that this side of the pond will not have to wait until the Summer for the latest series. Series 3 of Merlin only ended a few weeks ago in the UK, but it has already been announced that it will air in January on SyFy. The premiere episode, "Tears of Uther Pendragon, Part 1," will air January 7th at 10 PM. If you want to catch up on the series, SyFy has already begun re-airing series 1 on December 13th, and will have a marathon of series 2 during the day on January 7th. (For those interested in catching up or rewatching to get in the mood, I would also point out that series one is streaming on Netflix and both series are on Hulu.)
Here's what the press release had to say about what is coming up:
Season three sees the young wizard Merlin (Colin Morgan) in increasingly more dangerous and dark battles in his secret quest to protect Prince Arthur (Bradley James) in the fabled kingdom of Camelot where magic is forbidden by King Uther (Anthony Head). They rejoin Katie McGrath as the mesmerizing Morgana, who has a dark destiny of her own, Angel Coulby as her loyal maid Gwen, and Richard Wilson as wise Court physician Gaius. The new season sees our heroes pushed to their limits as the kingdom is thrown into turmoil by the return of Morgana from a year’s absence. As misbegotten secrets are exposed and old friends choose new sides, the battle for Camelot has truly begun.
A host of new guest stars joins the regular cast to enthrall audiences over the 13-episode run, including four actors from the Harry Potter films: Harry Melling (The Harry Potter Series) will play Merlin’s friend Gilli; Warwick Davis (The Chronicles of Narnia) assumes the role of bridgekeeper Grettir; Miriam Margoyles (Being Julia) will play Grunhilda; and Mark Williams (The Fast Show) is voice of a mischievous Goblin. Guest stars from the previous season such as Emilia Fox (The Pianist, Ballet Shoes) who plays Morgause, and Santiago Cabrera (Heroes, Che), who plays Lancelot, will also be returning for the new season.
Legendary actor John Hurt once again provides the Voice of the Great Dragon.
Sounds good, except for that bit about Lancelot, but he's to be expected, as is my complete hatred for him. Keep reading for my thoughts on the series (because this post is really just an excuse for me to write about the show), and a cool trailer I found from when series 3 was premiering on BBC One.
I like this trailer because it has a lot of the dragon, as well as a sword fighting skeleton. I'm pretty sure that, by riffing on Harryhausen's Jason and the Argonauts, the producers are definitively stating that I am their target demographic. Although, I can't really imagine why anyone wouldn't be interested in dragons and skeleton armies. They're awesome.
If you have been watching the show (and if you haven't you might want to skip this paragraph), you'll remember that Season 2 ended with Merlin having to "kill" Morgana to save Camelot, but mostly Uther Pendragon. Then John Hurt dragon, quite rightly (he was being chained up in the basement), attacked Camelot and killed a lot of people, for which Merlin told him to stop and let him go on his way. It was all pretty great. Clearly an army of skeletons were the only way to follow that up.
The last time I wrote about Merlin, I wasn't nearly so enamored of it. I'm not even sure why I continued watching. (Fine! It was because of my obvious crush on Bradley James.) It got better though. The stories aren't quite so repetitive. The special effects aren't so awful. I don't think that's what changed my opinion. Maybe I just have Stockholm Syndrome, but I started enjoying it for what it was instead of looking at all the things it wasn't. This week's monsters are just giant naked mole rats? Awesome! Our heroes are siding with Uther, who is basically a genocidal maniac? Sure. That makes perfect sense. Arthur got knocked out again? Well, his dad is Giles, so a quick recovery is probably a genetic trait. Plus, I like how far the producers are willing to push the characters and their relationships forward. Morgana is way further along the evil trail after 26 episodes than Lex Luthor was after 100 episodes of Smallville. It doesn't always work. Sometimes it seems like too much, too soon, but the forward momentum keeps things entertaining.
Here's how crazy my love for this show has gotten though: I even like Arthur/Gwen. I think it's sweet, and Gwen is cute, even though I should hate her for being the "Lana." Actually, I should hate her because she's going to turn into a total hussy who cheats on Arthur. (I'm holding out hope that, with all the changes they have made to Arthurian legend, Lancelot meets a bloody death in the fifth series or thereabouts. If Merlin can be young, Lancelot can be dead, says I.) Add that to all the stuff with Morgana and her resentment of Uther, and there's just so much goofy melodrama. It's fantastic.
(Weirdly, Merlin, the show's titular character and the guy who has to keep his magical powers and heroics a secret from everyone he knows, is the show's most drama-free character. That's actually kind of nice, compared to most shows of this sort.)
What I am getting at is this: Merlin's lots of fun. You should check it out, so I'm not so alone. And if you do watch it, you should let me know, so I'm not so alone. We can talk about how cute Arthur is. It'll be fun.