A Smallville-esque retelling of the Arthurian legend set in a time of myth and magic when Arthur is still a Prince and Merlin his faithful servant.
The series story arc this year revolved around advancing to the next stage of the legend with Morgana fully embracing her evil side to plot the murder of Arthur, Guinevere becoming Arthur’s betrothed and her betrayal with Lancelot, Arthur taking on the political responsibilities of being the new King, and Merlin beginning to truly earn a measure of respect and leading Arthur to the Sword in the Stone.
I thought that this was the best series to date. Any episode where Merlin becomes the aged Emris was an absolute delight with the show achieving some of its best comedy right there. Morgana is a difficult character to have sympathy with but Angel Coulby plays the role so well with glimpses of vulnerability that one can not help but stay interested in her story. For the Knights of Camelot, Eoin Macken’s Sir Gwaine brings a charming roguish qulity which makes him the only one you’d probably actually want to hang out with. Bradley James does an excellent job as King Arthur Pendragon throughout especially in his more quiet and depressed states where he really sells those emotions to the audience.
Some of the low points for me were whenever Arthur is either dismissive or rude towards Merlin. At this point of being in the fourth series one would hope that there would’ve been enough character development for him to be at least more outwardly respectful towards Merlin instead still being just quietly respectful of him on the inside. I do recognise that his attitude has improved with each successive series but this attatude is really rather grating at this point with the comedic effect delivering diminishing returns. Also, even though Guinevere didn’t truly betray Arthur of her own free will, no one knows that, and so him still wanting her to be his wife just doesn’t ring true to me but if he loves her enough to forgive her then maybe that’s all that truly matters.
I would like to see more magical fights in the future but I’m guessing that the budget won’t allow for that. What would be really interesting would be for Arthur to find out about Merlin’s magical powers and see how that affects their relationship but that would probably be saved for either the final or penultimate series of the show. Overall, a great series and I’m now really pumped for series five to air sometime in 2012!