Merlin

Season 1 Episode 1

The Dragon's Call

22
Aired Unknown Sep 20, 2008 on BBC
8.7
out of 10
User Rating
306 votes
8

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT
Merlin, a young man with the gift of magic, arrives in Camelot in search of a new beginning only to find himself in a place where magic is punishable by death. Here he meets Gaius, his mentor; the ruthless king of Camelot, Uther Pendragon; his ward, the beautiful Lady Morgana; Gwen, her friendly maidservant; and the arrogant but handsome prince Arthur, upon whom the future of Camelot depends. Desperate to find a purpose for his magic, Merlin is stunned to discover that his destiny is to protect the future king, with whom he does not get along particularly well.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

Monday
No results found.
Tuesday
No results found.
Wednesday
No results found.
SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Merlin enters Camelot, meets the arrogant Prince, and learns of the destiny the two of them share.

    9.0
    Wonderful way to start off a wonderful show. I was addicted at first watch lol, and so was the rest of my family and friends.



    It flowed nicely with just enough drama, explanations, and comedy to keep you entertained. The way they introduced each character was great, and had you adoring each one right off. Great moments that had me laughing were the scene where Merlin and Arthur meet. I like how they show immediately how prattish and arrogant Arthur is, so that you can see him develop into great King like figure that he's meant to be in the future.



    I've watched this one several times just to laugh!moreless
  • This show doesn't just play fast and loose with the source material, it grabs it by the short hairs and kicks it repeatedly in the groin while screaming naughty words.

    3.0
    Not sure why the made this show. Camelot was built by Arthur at the suggestion of Merlin. But it takes place there? Uther Pendragon never met Arthur because he died before Arthur was born. It was Uthers lust for another mans woman that gave birth to Arthur and ruined his plans to unite England under one king, plus ultimately ended in his death. In this show everyone is hanging out in Camelot, Uther, Arthur, and Merlin. Why not make a whole new show with new names and not ruin the larger points of the Arthurian legend? Made by BBC none the less, have they no sense of their own culture? It would be like the Americans making a show about the time when Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and Davey Crocket defended the 13 colonies from the Vikings. A disaster. It's a shame really, tons of school kids will fail exams thinking this an accurate portrayal of Arthurian Legend.moreless
  • Merlin is sent to live with Gaius by his mother who is worried about his abilities. On arrival Merlin is witness to what happens in Uther's realm when one uses magic. Arthur is no more than a bully but Merlin finds out his destiny is tied to him.moreless

    9.0
    An interesting adaptation of the Arthurian Legend. Merlin and Arthur as young adults. This is a very upscale reproduction of life in the world of Camelot. I am a little disappointed by the fact it is airing on NBC and has been almost ignored by them as a throw away show. Typical NBC. You sort of wonder why they bought the rights in the first place?



    Merlin learns early on that his destiny is tied to Arthur's from the Great Dragon who Merlin seems to have a special link too. This is rather horrific as Arthur is depicted as a bully who has few if any redeeming values. It is not hard to understand as King Uther Pendragon seems to be a man of limited intellect who is drunk with power and his father the current ruler. Uther is played by the well known Anthony Stewart Head of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame.



    Also of interest is the King's ward Morgana and her maid servant Guinevere. It will be interesting to see how the story weaves itslef around the original legend and what way the stories will take the characters.



    Richard Wilson is enjoyable as Gaius Merlin's mentor and confidant. Gaius is the court Physician and seems to have free run of the castle which is important in the story's arc. Colin Morgan is fine as Merlin and Bradley James the III is a dashing young Arthur. Morgana who was Merlin's adversary in the legend stories is played by the beautiful Katie McGrath. Finally Gwen is played by Angel Coulby. This is the only character I can't get a handle on as this shouldn't be the Gwen of the legend but I believe that is who they are playing the character as? I don't think Gwen was a maid servant in the original legends?



    I really enjoyed this episode immensely and the outcome was well thought out. Production values are good, storylines seemed pretty solid, and characterizations thoughtful. This should be a fun series for the summer months. I wonder if they are planning on continuing it after that as I believe it is a returning series in the UK.



    Thanks for reading...moreless
  • A promising first episode.

    10
    I think it is ridiculous how annoyed some people are getting about the deviation from the original Arthurian myths. I just think I should start this review by saying to those people; nobody is forcing you to watch it! If you don't like it, don't watch it - or take it for what it is, a TV show BASED loosely around the Arthurian myth which is actually very entertaining.

    The first thing that caught my eye was Colin Morgan aka Merlin's amazing smile. That boy can SMILE! But the opening scene, the execution and subsequent magical drama was quite good too. Uther set the tone as an imperious, ruthless king and it was interesting to see how they introduced the relationship between Gaius and Merlin, with the reading of Hunith's letter. In reference to Merlin's magical expenditure - breaking Gaius's fall - the special effects were not at all disappointing and while the show does occasionally fall short of the phenomenal efforts we have come to expect after franchises such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings (which they clever used to market the show here in Australia), we must remember that a TV show requires an ongoing budget and I imagine a fair bit of it must go towards the castle in France where they film Camelot scenes.

    The introduction of Morgana was dark and querulous - right from the beginning she is at odds with Uther, and her fierce personality suggests a darker alter ego. Katie McGrath captivates from the word go and is truly the best person I could have imagined for the job - she is both ethereally beautiful and a strong character.

    The comic elements - Merlin in the stocks - were executed well, and it was fitting that Gwen was introduced here, putting her on a societal par with Merlin as a lowly servant, notwithstanding her somewhat elevated position as the particular maidservant to the king's ward, Lady Morgana. Angel Coulby plays her with charm, idealism and a likeable awkwardness, and I think it's interesting they chose to have her percieving Arthur as a bully (which, of course, he is).

    My favourite scenes were the confrontations between Merlin and Arthur, for three reasons - one: Colin Morgan's smile, two: Bradley James... I think that's all that really needs to be said :), and three: they were simply the best. These scenes showed an as yet unseen side of Merlin's sweet nature, where it is revealed that he is willing and able to stand up for himself and for others and does not back down from a challenge. Arthur, who goes on in later episodes to become my favourite character, is certainly cocky, arrogant and obnoxious, but he is brilliant to watch and you can tell he will be entertaining. Bradley James manages to portray this less positive side of Arthur's personality without making him seem thuggish or simple. The concept of Merlin being the only one who dares stand up to Arthur is carried out through the series, though I do wish we would see more of this type of open confrontation. Once Merlin becomes his servant, he really loses the defensiveness he once had about Arthur's pratty behaviour, but I suppose that comes with the respect they develop for one another.

    Overall, the other scene worth mentioning is the one where Merlin becomes quite distraught and claims that if he can't use magic, he'd rather die. Here we realize just how important this part of him is and how conflicted a character he has been. The search for a purpose for his gifts lead him to the Great Dragon, exquisitely voiced by narrator John Hurt.

    This was an excellent first episode and an intriguing introduction of the central characters and ideas.moreless
  • An almost magical start

    8.5
    Essentially this is the latest contemporary reworking of a classic fantasy tale/fable - this time of Arthurian legend. As you may expect this first episode introduces the setting and main characters; and sets the general mood of the show. Props are also first class - for the small screen. To that end its a fine start giving enough coverage to each one.



    The episode uses a fairly basic plot that is adequate to generate enough action and intrigue providing a good idea of the sort of drama that the show promoses. The evil witch causing havoc is always a safe bet. It does the job. Though its quite ironic that Merlin finds himself in the very place he is to find supposed sancturary, as it turns out to be vehemently anti-magic and purposely so!



    The use of standard dilemmas devices add to the intensity of the situations each character faces. With Merlin's doubt in his own abilities and his constant guard against being discovered being ones that will no doubt return throughout the series.



    Each of the characters is different enough to provide a interesting plaform which I imagine is intended to show Merlin in a different light. This episode shows Merlin's affinity towards Arthur and demonstrates the beginning of their deep connection.

    Gaius' and Uther Pendragon's are great shepherds of the plot, often providing assistance or hinderance to plots and subplots alike. The two sides of wisdom no doubt. The mentor and the discipliner.



    The script was functional, though it allowed the characters enough time to establish more of themselves. The basic essence of the show has been plucked from the concrete foundations of the well known tale and remixed for younger auidences, with alot of the "truths" and the timeline hacked off and reattached elsewhere to make it fit this new format. Whether it will work remains to be seen. Defenders of the true faith may find it difficult to accept the liabilities that the writers and production team. As for me, I found it novel, entertaining, above average for a BBC production (points to Dr. Who, Torchwood, Robin Hood etc)



    Key concepts good and bad to get your head around are: Merlins connection with the dragon and the beginnings of their mysterious relationship with each and magic. Guineviere role has a nice twist to it, her being involved with Merlin rather than Arthur. While Prince Arthur being a prat is a complete role reversal what my idea is (after seeing the film Excalibur).



    At first I was shocked at the total rework of some elements of the story, but Im of the mind to give it a chance and cant wait for the next episode. Its fun and interesting and one must remember its aimed at todays younger generation.



    Roll on next week.moreless
Gary Oliver

Gary Oliver

Gregory

Guest Star

Louise Dylan

Louise Dylan

Bronwen

Guest Star

Ed Coleman

Ed Coleman

Morris

Guest Star

John Hurt

John Hurt

Voice of the Great Dragon

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (25)

    • Goof: Arthur can be seen falling asleep before Uther does, but right after Uther has fallen sleep himself, Arthur can be briefly seen still awake.

    • Goof: Merlin never gets to give Gwen the remedy for Morgana's nightmares.

    • Goof: Hunith's house, as we see it in this episode, is not consistent with her house in episode 1x10 The Moment of Truth.

    • Goof: When Gaius looks out of the window he gets a really close view of Merlin and Arthur fighting; the market appears to be way closer to his chamber than it actually is.

    • Goof: Merlin is sent to deliver medicines to different people and even though he is new in Camelot, he doesn't even ask for directions.

    • Gaius gives Merlin the book of magic he was given when he was his age.

    • Merlin was able to move objects with his mind before he could talk.

    • Goof: When Merlin first steps out of Gaius' chambers the sandwich he has prepared for him is already gone. However, later on he can be seen munching as he delivers the medicines.

    • Uther wears two different crowns during this episode.

    • Goof: Black people were not part of the population yet back then.

    • Goof: We can see Merlin using a rudimentary type of mop to clean up some water. However, the mop as such is a way later 19th century invention.

    • We learn that Arhtur's destiny is to become king of Camelot and unite the land of Albion and he won't be able to succeed without Merlin's help.

    • Merlin saves two lives during this episode: Gaius and Arthur's. He becomes Prince Arthur's manservant after saving his life as a grace granted by King Uther.

    • Goof: Uther and Lady Helen can be seen eating strawberries. However, strawberries were only first introduced in Europe in the 17th century.

    • Goof: Gaius asks Merlin to remove his shirt so he can heal his wound. However, he hardly does any kind of healing at all. Also, Arthur never hits Merlin in his right shoulder neither with the mace nor with the broom.

    • Goof: After Merlin delivers Lady Helen her remedy, a man can be seen hopping up the stairs in modern black leather boots.

    • Goof: When seeing from the inside, Merlin's chamber seems to have a big window by the foot of his bed, which is kept in the darkness. However, when it's seen from the outside, another big window appears just above his bedside throwing light over it.

    • Merlin's mother is called Hunith.

    • Goof: When Merlin opens the window in his chamber, the shutter is a two leaf wooden one. However, when the same action is seen from the outside, the window is a one leaf glass one.

    • Goof: Before Merlin first leans out of the window, his chamber is in a half light, lighted by some scattered candles around the room. However, when the window is seen from the outside, it appears completely lit up.

    • When magic started to be used for the wrong end and threw the natural order into chaos, Uther made it his mission to destroy everything from back then, even the dragons. He captured one and kept it chained in a cave deep beneath the castle ever since, to set an example. Camelot celebrates the 20th anniversary of the capture of the Great Dragon which meant the ban of all acts of magic and sorcery.

    • Goof: The same extra can be seen twice as Merlin and Arthur get involved into their second fight. The first time he can be seen on the street at background as the boys get ready to fight, wearing a brown shirt and a red vest. The second time he can be seen inside the barn on a darker shade of brown behind Merlin and Arthur when the first spots Gaius and stops fighting.

    • Goof: Merlin's mother can be seen writing a long letter using a quill, which she never dips in an inkwell.

    • Goof: Gaius wears glasses, even though they weren't commonly used until the 13th century.

    • Goof: As Merlin is kept held in the stock, he is thrown several types of vegetables, tomatoes among them. However, tomatoes were only known in Europe after Columbus brought them from America around 1498.

  • QUOTES (15)

    • Uther: You saved my boy's life. A debt must be repaid.
      Merlin: Um... well...
      Uther: Don't be so modest. You shall be rewarded.
      Merlin: No, honestly, you don't have to, Your Highness.
      Uther: No, absolutely. This merits something quite special.
      Merlin: Well...
      Uther: You shall be awarded a position in the Royal Household. You shall be Prince Arthur's manservant.
      Arthur: Father!

    • Gwen: (about Morgana) She looks great, doesn't she?
      Merlin: Yeah.
      Gwen: Some people are just born to be queen.
      Merlin: No.
      Gwen: I hope so. One day. Not that I'd want to be her. Who'd want to marry Arthur?
      Merlin: Come on, Gwen. I thought you liked those real rough, tough, save-the-world kind of men.
      Gwen: No, I like much more ordinary men like you.
      Merlin: Gwen, believe me, I'm not ordinary.
      Gwen: No, I didn't mean you. Obviously. Not you. Just, you know, I like much more ordinary men. Like you.
      Merlin: Thanks.

    • The Great Dragon: How small you are, for such a great destiny.
      Merlin: Why? What do you mean? What destiny?
      The Great Dragon: Your gift, Merlin, was given to you for a reason.
      Merlin: So there is a reason!
      The Great Dragon: Arthur is the once and future king who will unite the land of Albion...
      Merlin: Right?
      The Great Dragon: But he faces many threats from friend and foe alike.
      Merlin: I don't see what this has to do with me.
      The Great Dragon: Everything! Without you, Arthur will never succeed. Without you, there will be no Albion!
      Merlin: No! No, you've got this wrong!
      The Great Dragon: There is no right or wrong. Only what is and what isn't.
      Merlin: But I'm serious! If anyone wants to go and kill him, they can go ahead. In fact, I'll give them a hand.

    • (Mary Collins has taken the appearance of Lady Helen and is dining with Uther)
      Lady Helen: (about Arthur) Poor child. It can't have been easy to grow up without a mother.
      Uther: No.
      Lady Helen: Hm. That bond between mother and son, it's so hard to replace.
      Uther: Hasn't been easy.
      Lady Helen: I'm sure. Perhaps if you found someone? If you remarried? I'm sure you'd have the pick of any lady in the kingdom.
      Uther: Well, perhaps I'll find love again, but I'm afraid it's too late to replace Arthur's mother.
      Lady Helen: Yes. It's certainly too late for Arthur.

    • Merlin: You don't know why I was born like this, do you?
      Gaius: No.
      Merlin: I'm not a monster, am I?
      Gaius: Don't ever think that.

    • Arthur: I warn you, I've been trained to kill since birth.
      Merlin: Wow. And how long have you been training to be a prat?
      Arthur: You can't address me like that.
      Merlin: Sorry. How long have you been training to be a prat, my lord?

    • Gaius: What did your mother say to you about your gifts?
      Merlin: That I was special.
      Gaius: You are special. The likes of which I've never seen before.
      Merlin: What do you mean?
      Gaius: Well... magic requires incantations, spells that take years to study. What I saw you do was... elemental. Instinctive.
      Merlin: What's the point if it can't be used?
      Gaius: That I do not know. You are a question that has never been posed before, Merlin.
      Merlin: Did you ever study magic?
      Gaius: Uther banned all such work twenty years ago.
      Merlin: Why?
      Gaius: People used magic for the wrong ends at that time. It threw the natural order into chaos. Uther made it his mission to destroy everything from back then, even the dragons.
      Merlin: What, all of them?
      Gaius: There was one dragon he chose not to kill. He kept it as an example. He imprisoned it in a cave deep beneath the castle where no-one can free it.

    • (Merlin has been put in the stocks for standing up to Arthur)
      Gwen: I saw what you did. It was so brave.
      Merlin: It was stupid.
      Gwen: Well, I'm glad you walked away. You weren't going to beat him.
      Merlin: Oh, I could beat him.
      Gwen: You think? Because you don't look like one of these big muscley kind of fellows.
      Merlin: Thanks.
      Gwen: No, no. I'm sure you're stronger than you look. It's just... Arthur's one of these real rough, tough save-the-world kind of men and well...
      Merlin: What?
      Gwen: You don't look like that.
      Merlin: (Beckoning her closer) I'm in disguise.
      Gwen: (Laughing) Well, it's great you stood up to him.
      Merlin: You think so?
      Gwen: Arthur's a bully and everyone thought you were a real hero.

    • Uther: Why are you not joining us at the feast?
      Morgana: I just don't think chopping someone's head off is cause for a celebration. That poor mother...
      Uther: It was simple justice for what he'd done.
      Morgana: To whom? He practiced magic. He didn't hurt anyone.
      Uther: You were not around twenty years ago. You have no idea what it was like.
      Morgana: How long are you going to keep punishing people for what happened then?
      Uther: Until they realise there is no room for magic in my kingdom.

    • Hunith: (voice-over; her letter to Gaius) My dear Gaius, I turn to you for I feel lost and alone and don't know who to trust. It is every mother's fate to think her child is special and yet I would give my life that Merlin were not so. Ours is a small village and he is so clearly at odds with people here that if he were to remain, I fear what would become of him. He needs a hand to hold, a voice to guide, someone that might help him find him a purpose for his gifts. I beg you, if you understand a mother's love for her son, keep him safe and may God save you both.

    • Gaius: (after Merlin uses magic to save him from a fall) Where did you study? Answer me!
      Merlin: I've... I've never studied magic or been taught.
      Gaius: Are you lying to me, boy?
      Merlin: What do you want me to say?
      Gaius: The truth!
      Merlin: I was born like this.
      Gaius: That's impossible!

    • Uther: Let this serve as a lesson to all. This man, Thomas James Collins, is adjudged guilty of conspiring to use enchantments and magic and- pursuiant to the laws of Camelot- I, Uther Pendragon, have decreed that such practices are banned on penalty of death. I pride myself as a fair and just king, but for the crime of sorcery there is but one sentence I can pass. (Uther raises his hand and Thomas is executed) When I came to this land, this kingdom was mired in chaos but, with the people's help, magic was driven from the realm. So I declare a festival to celebrate twenty years since the Great Dragon was captured and Camelot freed from the evil of sorcery. Let the celebrations begin!
      (There is a loud scream from the crowd)
      Mary Collins: There is only one evil in this land but it is not magic. It is you! With your hatred and your ignorance! You took my son. But I promise you, before these celebrations are over, you will share my tears. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a son for a son!

    • The Great Dragon: (voice-over) No young man, no matter how great, can know his destiny. He cannot glimpse his part in the great story that is about to unfold. Like everyone, he must live and learn. And so it shall be for the young warlock arriving at the gates of Camelot. A boy that will in time father a legend. His name... Merlin.

    • Merlin: Hello? Gaius?
      (He spots Gaius standing and clears his throat. Gaius is startled and falls.)
      Gaius: Whoa!
      (Merlin uses magic to move a bed. Gaius falls on the bed. He stands up and looks at Merlin.)
      Gaius: What did you just do?
      Merlin: Ehm
      Gaius: Tell me.
      Merlin: I ... I ... I have no idea what just happened.
      Gaius: If anyone has seen that ...
      Merlin: Oh no, that was .. that was nothing to do with me, that was.
      Gaius: I know what it was. I just want to know where you learned how to do it.
      Merlin: No I..
      Gaius: So how is it that you know magic.
      Merlin: I don't.

    • The Great Dragon: None of us can choose our destiny, Merlin. And none of us can escape it.

  • NOTES (88)

    • A pronunciation guide is included in every script so the cast gets an idea of how to pronounce all the backstory words.

    • Each episode has some 33 minutes of music, way more than most dramas.

    • According to Barney Curnow, VFX supervisor from The Mill, background shots are made so then magical creatures can be put into them later. They use a shiny ball for lighting purposes whenever there's 3D CGI as it reflects the whole environment and so they make sure that the creature they put in that environment is lit exactly as it should be as if it was in the frame when the background shots were filmed.

    • If Bradley James would have to describe Arthur in one word, he would describe him as 'fabulous'.

    • If Colin Morgan could change one thing about Merlin, it would be to have Merlin stop trying to revive Arthur so much.

      If Bradley James could change one thing about Arthur, it would be to make him be knocked unconscious less.

    • The show runs two units (cast and crew working together) which means that scenes from up to six episodes can be filmed on a same day.
      Both units conform an ensemble of over 200 crew members alongside a cast of up to 20 principle actors and 100 supporting artists.

    • Colin Morgan exhausted all the literature of Arthurian legend and Merlin throughout series one and two. He found it hugely exciting to contribute and give continuation to a legend that has been told throughout the years.

    • When discussing his character in the initial production steps, Richard Wilson suggested that Gaius should wear a hat like the one Uther gets to briefly wear in episode 3x03 Goblin's Gold instead of a wig.

    • All the pictures, designs and texts in Merlin's book of magic and the spell books used in the show are made by a talented woman artist.

    • DVDs for part 1 and part 2 of Merlin Season One signed by the 4 main cast members (Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Katie McGrath and Angel Coulby) were given to the 2010 Wamcare (Worldwide Association for ME/CFS Awareness and Research) charity auction which profits are destined to top quality biomedical research including a large share to the Whittemore Peterson Institute and ME Research UK. The actors also contributed with individual signed pictures.

    • Michael Cronin wears stuck-on eyebrows for his role of Geoffrey of Monmouth.

    • The Griffin statue is Colin Morgan's favourite thing in Pierrefonds castle.

    • Bradley James calls his sword 'Dave'.

    • Colin Morgan finds at times difficult to learn the spells so he is provided with a recorded version of their proper pronunciation that he can put in his iPlayer and listen to before shooting a scene.

    • Getretro will produce action toy figurines of Merlin's main characters and they will be first displayed at the 2010 London Toy Fair.

      German Games developer Intenium will create an iPhone app role-playing game called The Adventures of Merlin. It'll be available from Apple's App Store starting April 2010.

    • Richard Wilson wears a pair of Nike trainers dressed as Medieval boots for the wellbeing of his feet.

    • Colin Morgan recorded a special feature for the BBC Merlin website where he shows how to perform certain magic tricks. Colin used a double, Chris Cox, for the tricks.
      He also recorded a scene for the show's cinema trailer.

    • Painted backdrops match the exteriors of Pierrefonds Chateau for those studio set scenes where windows are involved. They look very fuzzy but on screen they work perfectly giving the false perspective required that is afforded by that unformed style that tricks the eye.

    • Bantam Books, a division of Random House released a Merlin tie-in books on Sep. 3rd, 2009. There is also a novel version of the series is for young adults of about 256 pages per book.

    • Australian The Sun-Herald newspaper made a contest by which 1,000 family passes for an IMAX preview screening of this episode were handed out.

    • Filming in period costumes makes the filming pace drop a 20%.

    • Jill Trevellick was Merlin casting director.

    • When this episode first aired, episode 1x10 The Moment of Truth was being filmed.

    • BBC Wales head of drama Julie Gardner and Russell T Davies helped Merlin writing team (Julian Jones, Jake Michie, Howard Overman and Ben Vanston) giving the scripts the broad family appeal that a Saturday 7pm slot show required. Russell T Davies got a thank you line in the closing credits for this episode.

    • The CGI for this episode was finished just 3 days before its tv airing.

    • Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy, executive producers of the show, recorded an audio commentary for this episode.

    • Hundreds of people auditioned for the part of Merlin. They producers found imperative to come up with an actor with a broad range acting, who was able to do drama, comedy and to act in front of a green screen. They also wanted someone likeable, so the audience would tune in again after the first episode.

      Before auditioning for the role of Merlin, Colin Morgan was sent the scenes for Arthur by mistake. He didn't get the whole script so he prepared those assuming they wanted to see him for the role of the prince. It was only right before for the audition that he got the scenes for Merlin so he only had like five 5 minutes to read over them. He ended up getting the role.

    • Merlin's view of Pierrefonds as he approaches the castle is a painted map, which was shot from three different paces.

    • The street that leads to the castle was built on purpose and then blended in so it would give the impression that Camelot is a Medieval town with the castle.

    • One of the first big sequences shot in France was the one where Uther says the beheading speech. It was quite a challenging scene with a lot of French extras and English cast to organize. Some of the crew members were bilingual and the extras were really committed so it worked fine. It took seven hours to be shot and edited.

    • Crowd duplication was used for the scene where James Collins kneels at the stock.

    • The actual beheading was not allowed to be seen due to the time slot of the show and the familiar nature of it.

    • Anthony Head was one of the first choices for the role of Uther because he is an actor who can understand hard concept shows, feels comfortable in the fantasy material and can make extraordinary worlds look believable.

    • When Eve Myles shot her initial Mary Collins scene, all the French extras spontaneously gave her a round of applause. Anthony Head acknowledged that it had been a superb interpretation and he asked to redo his shots because he thought he hadn't been good enough and so they did.

    • Straw and a wind machine where used in the scene where Mary Collins vanishes into thin air.

    • The first episode was a challenge because it had to be fun, accessible and contain cross generational plotlines so it would work for all elements in the family but together with that, it also has to introduce the characters and tell a story. And because the show is not set in the real world, the rules of the world need also to be explained so it leaves less and less space to tell the story, which doesn't become dominant. It is a tough episode for the cast, where the actors have long speeches with a lot of information instead of more simple lines.

    • A 1200 frames a second high speed camera was used to record the scene where Gaius falls off the balcony. It was all done by Richard Wilson's stunt, he never even was on balcony.

    • The executive producers had previously worked with Richard Wilson in another show and they loved his humanity and warmth, which they found very fitting for the role of Gaius.

    • Unlike most tv shows, Merlin is filmed in blocks of three or four episodes at a time, and not in the right order which makes it a big achievement for the cast to shoot out of order and always pitch their acting.

    • Hunith's voiceover reading her letter to Gaius was almost cut they decided to let it stay since it gives an epic scale to the story.

    • The executive producers had previously worked with Caroline Faber in a pilot the year before and they were amazed by her humble humanity.

    • The studio sets in Surrey needed to be cut three weeks before they started filming because they were too high and difficult to light.

    • The executive producers didn't focus on being historically accurate when creating Camelot world. They just went with their instincts when it came to choosing costumes, colours, armours, emblems, insignias, shields and the whole design canvas, even things that didn't exist in the Medieval period.

    • The scene where Mary Collins kills Lady Helen was filmed in three different places: the scenes with Lady Helen were filmed in a studio, the reverse scenes with Mary Collins were shot in another studio and then they shot the exterior of the tent. They actually filmed the last one twice because the first tent didn't look good enough. Seven hours were needed to put the scenes together, since Eve Myles went through three different stages of make up.

    • Bradley James had a 20 feet cloth to throw knives at and still he missed some. The ones that impact on the aim, were shot with a machine.

    • The cell in this episode was filmed in an English stately home before they decided to build a set for it when they realized how much it was gonna be used in the future.

    • The crew refers to slightly evil smiles as 'witchy poo' ones.

    • A great deal of money was spent to make fake fruit to throw at Colin Morgan but it looked way too fake so in the end they just went with rotten tomatoes.

    • The mace fight was the most difficult and ambitious scene to be filmed for this episode. Plastic maces were made to play it safe but those didn't work because maces need to have proper weight to work properly and finally steel ones were made. The stunt men had to be extra careful handling them, especially since the sequence was shot partially at night because numerous takes needed to be done.

    • The scene where Gaius tells Merlin off for getting into a fight with Arthur and tends to his wound was one of the first sequences that Colin Morgan shot.

    • The scene where Lady Helen performs her song was filmed in a real Medieval hall within an English stately home. It was partially redressed because it didn't have the big chandeliers and other props. Some seventy three set ups were filmed in there, and they usually manage to shoot some twenty five a day. However, it took longer in this case because the same shots needed to be filmed with different paces, motion control was required in the tracking shots, the candles had to be taken out and the mats and the windows rebuilt. It took a whole week to get everything right.

    • The cobwebs were really hard to put together because some are real and some are drawn on and it was hard to make them look the same.

    • The knife that is thrown against Arthur was a CGI. The one that gets stuck in the chair is a real one. Instead of throwing it against the wood, it was filmed the reverse way, pulling it out of the wood.

    • At first it was considered to have some flame effect on Merlin's eyes in the moments when he does magic. However, the flame looked too evil, too demonic and they wanted to come up with something which would clearly indicate that he is doing good and not evil.

    • Since tv time slots and tight broadcasts usually cut the ending credits, it was decided to have the preview for the next episode bumped straight after the emotional end and put a Merlin banner in between.

    • It is very difficult to make a dragon talk because lips can't be added to an alligator mouth and make it convincing. The Mill had developed a new special piece of software by means of which the movements of John Hurt's facial muscles are captured and transferred to a 3d model as he develops his lines. This not only helps to sync the dragon to the dialogue but it also gives the dragon character and personality as it adds some of John's performance and personality to the part.

    • The executive producers wrote several scholars of Old English asking for their help making the spells which are an Old English direct translation of whatever the person with magic wants to do, so the show is in a good working relationship with some of the UK's leading historians who assist with Anglo-Saxon and medieval English when translations are required.

      The actors get phonetic help in the scripts.

    • According to Andreas Petrides, the show stunts co-ordinator, the sword fight routines are first rehearsed with wooden swords, then they shift to blunt aluminium ones, the ones actually used in the show.

    • According to Julian Murphy, co-producer of the show, the character he relates to most is Merlin as a person no one really appreciates or understands for who he really is.

    • Gaius' wig is called Martin. Richard Wilson's make up-lady, Anna, named it that way. There are several identical wigs.

    • The chain mails are made out of aluminum instead of steel so they aren't that heavy. Still, they mean quite a burden at the end of the day, and they restrict the characters' movements a lot.

    • The big hall that Lady Helen crosses walking down towards Uther as she arrives in Camelot is actually the Great Hall of Pierrefonds castle. Eve Myles slept and fall along it when filming this sequence.

    • The scene where Morgana makes an entrance to the banquet room before Lady Helen's performance was shot on March 13th 2008.

    • Awards:
      -2012 SFX 'Phenomenon' Award.
      -2011 Virgin Media TV Award in the category of 'Best Scifi/Fantasy'.
      -2011 BAFTA Television Craft Awards in the category of Visual Effects (The Mill) for episode 3x02 The Tears of Uther Pendragon, Part 2.
      -TV Quick & TV Choice Award for 'Best New Drama Series' on September 7, 2009.

    • Broadcasts:
      20 Sep 2008 at 19:30–20:15 on BBC One.
      21 Aug 2009 at 20:30–21:15 on BBC Three.

    • Colin Morgan is not allowed to stay in the sun and get a tan for his role of Merlin. He wears sunblock factor 50.

    • The rabbit mask that can be seen in Gaius' chambers as Merlin first arrives scares most of the cast so it's been moved to the top of a shelf and out of sight.

    • The council chambers, Gaius' chambers, Uther, Arthur, Morgana and Merlin's bedrooms together with Gwen's house and a cell are studio sets.

    • DVD Release Dates:
      Season 1, Volume 1 (episodes 1-6): October 24, 2008.
      Season 1, Volume 2 (episodes 7-13): February 9, 2009.
      Complete Season 1: October 5, 2009.

    • The total budget for all 13 episodes of Merlin is 5M pounds which equals the budget of 3 episodes of the average American prime-time tv drama. According to Julian Murphy, co-producer of the show, each episode takes some twelve to fifteen days to be filmed, and then six to eight weeks to be edited with especial effects and post production job.

    • Even though it is not stated in the episode, according to Richard Wilson, Hunith is Gaius' step sister which makes Merlin his nephew.

    • Lady Helen of Mora's aria song is actually performed by an opera soprano. The lyrics are nonsense, made up to sound right. The song is supposed to be about the hurt of a mother who has lost her son.

    • The chandeliers that Merlin uses to kill Mary Collins were created with CGI and the one which falls on Eve Myles's stunt was made out of rubber.

    • Also Known As (Episode):
      France: L'Appel du Dragon.
      Germany: Ruf des Drachen.
      Italy: La Chiamata del Drago.
      Poland: Wołanie Smoka.
      Portugal: O Chamado Do Dragão.
      Russia: Зов дракона.
      Spain: La Llamada del Dragón.
      The Netherlands: De Roep van de Draak.
      Ukraine: Поклик Дракона.

      Also Known As (Show):
      Argentina: Las Aventuras de Merlín, meaning 'The Adventures of Merlin'.
      Australia: The Adventures of Merlin.
      Germany: Die Neuen Abenteuer, meaning 'The New Adventures'.
      Hong Kong: The Adventures of Merlin.
      Poland: The Adventures of Merlin.
      Portugal: As Aventuras de Merlin.
      Russia: Мерлин.
      The Netherlands: The Adventures of Merlin.

    • The horses used in the show are Appaloosa horses. The horse trainers are as close as ten miles away from Pierrefonds.

    • Merlin started production in March 2008, and season 1 ended filming by the end of October 2008.

    • Merlin can be seen on demand through the web on BBC i-Player in the BBC official site for the show.

    • Prior to its UK airing on September 20th 2008, a special trailer of Merlin was released on television, theatres and online.

    • London based especial effects company The Mill, have created the vfx, 3D, visual effects, set extensions and enhanced views of the show. They've also been responsible for vfx of other shows such as Doctor Who or Torchwood, and also movies like Gladiador (2001), achieveing an Oscar for their work.

    • Nominations:
      -2013: SFX Sci-Fi Awards in the category of Best TV Show, Best episode (The Diamond Of The Day Part 2) and Biggest Disappointment (it's cancellation).
      -2013: 39th Annual Saturn Awards in the category of Best Youth Oriented Television Series (Merlin).
      -2012 TV Choice Awards in the category of Best Actor (Colin Morgan) and Best Family Drama (Merlin).
      -2011 NTA (National Television Awards) in the category of Best Drama (Merlin).
      -2011 Virgin Media TV Award in the category of Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy and TV show of the year, Best Actor (Colin Morgan), Best Actress, Best Baddy and Hottest Female (Katie McGrath) and Hottest Male (Bradley James and Tom Hopper).
      -2011 Broadcast Awards in the category of Best International Programme Sales for Merlin series 3.
      -2011 TV Choice Awards in the category of Best Actor (Colin Morgan) and Best Family Drama (Merlin).
      -2011 51st Monte Carlo Television Awards in the category of Outstanding Actor (Colin Morgan), Outstanding Actress (Katie McGrath), Outstanding International Producers (Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy) and Outstanding European Producers (Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy).
      -2010 National TV Awards, in the category of Best Drama Performace (Bradley James and Colin Morgan) and Best Drama (Merlin).
      -2010 TV Choice Awards in the category of Best Actor (Colin Morgan) and Best Family Drama (Merlin).
      -2010 BAFTA Television Craft Awards in the category of Visual Effects (The Mill).
      -2010 BAFTA Cymru Awards in the category of Best Design (Dominic Roberts) and Best Director: Film/Drama (Jeremy Webbs).
      -2010 50th Monte Carlo Television Awards in the category of Outstanding Actor/Drama (Colin Morgan and Bradley James), Outstanding Actress/Drama (Angel Coulby), Outstanding International Producer (Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy) and and Outstanding European Producer (Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy).
      -2010 BAFTA CYMRU nominations in the category of Best Design (Dominic Roberts) and Best Director: Film/Drama (Jeremy Webb).
      -2009 Seoul International Drama Awards in the category of Best Mini Series (Merlin) and Best Actor (Colin Morgan) for his role of Merlin.
      -2009 49th Monte Carlo Television Awards in the category of Best Actor (Colin Morgan), Best Actress (Katie McGrath), Best International Producers (Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy) and Best European Producers (Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy).
      -2008 NTA (National Television Awards) in the category of Best Drama (Merlin) and Best Drama Performance (Colin Morgan) for his role of Merlin.
      -2008 BAFTA nomination for Best Interactivity, recognizing the degree of committment that the series employs in multiple mediums to extend fan interactivity with the show, like websites, downloads and so on.
      -2008 Visual Effects Society Awards in the category of Outstanding Matte Paintings in a Broadcast Program or Commercial for episode 1x03 The Mark of Nimueh.
      -2008 IFMCA International Film Music Critics Association in the category of Best Original Score for Television (Robert Lane).
      -2008 Movie Music UK Awards in the category of Best Original Score for Television (Robert Lane).
      -2008 Gold Spirit Awards in the category of Best Original Score for Television (Robert Lane).

    • Merlin was the fifth most watched programme on BBC iPlayer in 2008.

    • This is the only episode of this season in which John Hurt does not make the voice-over in the intro.

    • Rob Lane, assisted by Rohan Stevenson and James Goslin, is the composer and conductor of the score for Merlin. It was recorded by a 70 piece orchestra in Prague.

    • Filming locations:
      Château de Pierrefonds, Pierrefonds, Oise, France (Camelot).
      Penshurst Place, Penshurst, Kent, England, UK (The Baron's Hall at Penshurst Place was used as the banqueting hall).
      Ivinghoe Beacon, Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire, UK (opening shot when Merlin appears over a rise, following a chalk pathway heading towards Camelot).
      Surrey, UK (Studio sets).

      Despite filming in France is way more expensive than doing it in the UK, the Château de Pierrefonds had the perfect feel for Camelot: old enough to look inhabited but not so much so it's falling apart. Castles in England tend to be in ruins to a bigger or smaller degree and would need a lot of CGI work to virtually rebuild them and they would limit the directors a lot. After having been looking around Europe for three months for the perfect castle, a director friend of the executive producers recommended Pierrefonds, and upon first watch they knew it was perfect: it is intact, needs no CGI and looks inhabited and fantasy like.

      Penshurst Place was the home of the Elizabethan poet, courtier and soldier Sir Philip Sidney. His indirect descendant, also named Philip Sidney, still lives there today with his family.

      Unlike most tv shows, Merlin is filmed in blocks of three or four episodes so the alternate filming locations are used for several episodes.

      The studio sets were originally in Surrey, England, but were moved to Cardiff after the first two blocks of the first season were filmed.

    • International Airdates:
      Australia: May 3, 2009 on Channel Ten.
      Canada: June 21, 2009 on CTV.
      Denmark: June 20, 2009 on DR1.
      France: November 11, 2009 on V TV.
      Germany: October 17, 2009 on RTL.
      Israel: July 10, 2009 on HOT Summer.
      Italy: December 15, 2008 on Italia 1.
      Malaysia: March 1, 2009 on Hallmark Channel.
      Netherlands: March 28, 2009 on Nederland 3.
      Norway: January 18, 2009 on TV2.
      Poland: March 7, 2009 on Polsat.
      Portugal: June 28, 2009 on SIC Radical.
      Romania: June 13, 2009 on Pro TV.
      Spain: May 22, 2009 on Antena Neox.
      Sweden: January 18, 2009 on SVT1.
      Turkey: September 6, 2009 on CNBC-e.
      Ukraine: June 6, 2009 on 1+1.
      UK: September 20, 2008 on BBC One.
      USA: June 21, 2009 on NBC.
      Vietnam: July 12, 2009 on HTV7.

    • Merlin was broadcasted on NBC in June 2009, Sundays at 20:00 (EST). It was over 30 years ago since a UK drama aired on a major USA network as opposed to PBS or cable since The New Avengers (1976).

      NBC bought Merlin without having seen a single episode because they loved the scripts, the story and the whole idea of it.

    • The executive producers had worked with Bradley James in DisConnected and he was at the back of their minds for the role of Arthur. He was the only actor they had considered for one of the roles before the casting process. They liked the fact that he is good looking, has a good level of comedy and the potential to portray the future king of legend. Ben Mansfield also auditioned for the role getting to the last two.

      Other recurrent and guest stars that were also in DisConnected are Caroline Faber (episodes 1x01 The Dragon's Call, 1x10 The Moment of Truth and 1x13 Le Morte d'Arthur), Holly Grainger (episode 1x07 The Gates of Avalon) and Kyle Redmond-Jones (episode 1x09 Excalibur).

    • According to Eve Myles, it took Mark Coulier around five and a half hours to apply her Mary Collins prosthetics. Johnny Capps, one of the producers of the show, was amazed at the final job because close up she really looked like an old woman.

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • The Great Dragon: Arthur is the once and future king who will unite the land of Albion.

      'The Once And Future King' is a title often ascribed to Arthur, taken from the supposed inscription over his grave HIC IACET ARTORIVS REX QVONDAM REXQVE FVTVRVS (Here lies Arthur, the once and future king). It is also the title of an Arthurian fantasy novel written by T.H. White published in 1958.

More
Less