Season 1 Episode 1

The Dragon's Call

Aired Unknown Sep 20, 2008 on BBC

Episode Fan Reviews (8)

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out of 10
308 votes
  • Merlin enters Camelot, meets the arrogant Prince, and learns of the destiny the two of them share.

    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!
  • 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.

    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.
  • 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.

    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...
  • A promising first episode.

    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.
  • An almost magical start

    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.
  • A modern adaptive fantasy with lots of imaginative magic, both good and evil. The special effects are excellent,especially the dragon. Reminded me somewhat of "smallville" - hero/magician as a teenager, a bit modern in design but still a fine sentiment.

    The story starts out with the young Merlin arriving at the royal court of Camelot to take up a position with the palace doctor. His mother has sent him there for his protection, because of his special talent - he can make things happen with his mind, moving objects and stilling time. On arrival he finds the King preparing to behead a man for using magic. Despite this on arriving to meet the doctor he saves his life by moving a bed under him as he falls. The doctor tells Merlin to be very careful, but almost immediately he runs foul of young Arthur and is forced to defend himself. Merlin hears and follows the call of a voice from the dungeon where the King has imprisoned a dragon. The Dragon tells him he has a destiny and that he must save Arthur, for they have a lot to accompolish together. Meanwhile the witch mother of the beheaded man kills a famous singer and impersonates her- her true crones face visible in a mirror only. While singing to the court she puts them all to sleep, except for Merlin, who manages to drop a chandelier on the crone and push prince Arthur out of the way of a dagger thus saving his life. Merlins reward is to be the servant of Arthur.
  • '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.'

    I've always been a fan of Arthurian legend, so it was with interest that I tuned in to watch this opening episode which charts the early days of Merlin. As series openers go, The Dragon's Call is pretty good. Young warlock Merlin enters the world of Camelot, sent by his mother to start a new life under the watchful eye of court physicial Gaius. However, he enters a world where magic is forbidden and punished by death. He must keep his gift hidden and his head down. However, when a vengeful witch named Mary Collins vows revenge on King Uther for the death of her son- with a threat against Uther's son Prince Arthur- it seems that Merlin may have to use his secret gift to save the prince's life. All the elements are present for an undemanding yet entertaining series and one that I will keep watching.

    Colin Morgan gives a warm and likeable performance as the titular magician, even if the script does tend to give him slightly emo-esque outburts of angst every now and then. Morgan seems to have the confidence and ability to shoulder the weight of leading man- and he's certainly rather handsome with it as well. However, he is surrounded by great performances by a very able ensemble cast. As the elder statesmen, both Richard Wilson and Anthony Head give strong support as kindly physician Gaius and imperious ruler Uther respectively. Head imbues Uther with a strength and dignity but also gives Uther's almost rabid anti-magic position context and even sympathy- there are hints of having seen some dark things in the time when magic was left to run riot. Similarly, Wilson is superb at grounding the young magician. You're not really supposed to like Arthur which is good because I found him arrogant and rather unpleasant, but it's a good performance by Bradley James (I just hope that you get to see a softer, rounder side to the character as the weeks continue). It doesn't hurt matters that James is a rather attractive lad as well. Rounding off the main cast are Katie McGrath who isn't given much to do but does a lot with it as Uther's ward Morgana who is probably the only person who would get away with calling Uther on his anti-magic rant. Finally, Angel Coulby is good as Morgana's maid Gwen- also known as Guinevere. She and Morgan have some chemistry together and she also gives a warm and likeable performance.

    There are some visually sumptuous sights, the whole layout of the imposing edifice that is Camelot looks amazing. Good too is the design of the subterranean caves beneath the castle which houses the captive Great Dragon (another amazing CGI job) who is voiced with warmth and gravitas by none other than John Hurt who- quite frankly- is perfect. He only appears briefly but is the one who hands Merlin his destiny- to use his magical powers to keep Arthur safe until he can assume the throne and become 'the once and future king'. Eve Myles is good in her dual roles as Mary Collins (unrecognisable under prosthetics) and as Lady Helen, whom is callously killed by Mary who then assumes her figure to get into Camelot and exact revenge against Uther- and kill Arthur. The final banquet scene where Mary weaves her musical spell, rendering everyone asleep and cobweb bound as she advances on the sleeping Arthur is beautifully realised and not a little creepy. The music for this whole episode deserves a nod as it really adds to the atmosphere throughout.

    Yes, the show plays fast and loose with what is deemed to be historical truth. However, just like Robin Hood, it's not worth getting worked up about the inaccuracies. This is not purporting to be truth. It is fiction- and damn good fiction at that. Finally, there's something worth watching on a Saturday night again. It's nowhere near as good as Doctor Who, but it's eminently watchable nonetheless.
  • A fun ride, not to be taken too seriously!

    I found myself strangly engadged on it, not because it's a masterpiece, but because it's fun, light, and never takes itself too serious. The story does a good job introducing the characters, and setting the mood for what is to come. Generally i liked all the characters, and though this is only the first episode i'm already in love with Gwen... Arthur is maybe my least favorite so far. A special note goes also to Lady Helen, very beautiful, and if that really was she singging then she really as a nice voice too.

    I recommend anyone to see it for what it is, a good adventure that you and your kids can see together.

    The special effects are not top note, but they do what they're supposed to.

    I will keep watching this for shure and hope it succeeds.