Review: Merlin 101 The Dragon's Call

Overall Rating: 9.5

Merlin arrives in Camelot and learns that King Uther has forbidden magic, which is punishable by death -- yet, it is magic he uses to save the life of Arthur, the king's son.  Watch the episode streaming online above.

The Dragon’s call, the pilot show for Merlin is really well done.  It’s a great fantasy show and a well constructed pilot.  They did a wonderful job introducing thoroughly and succinctly the main character’s, establishing the setting and showing us the magic of the setting.  The writing is solid and a nice take on the Arthurian legends.

The look of Merlin is well done, I was particularly impressed with the castle used for Camelot.  The show starts out with a Camelot in the background and at first I thought ‘wow what a nice use of the mat painting effect.’  They zoom in and I was even more impressed because it still looks really nice.  Then they get up close and I realized it was not a mat painting effect but it was a real set or a real castle!  After watching a making of special I was pleased to find out that the castle is a real castle in France.  I very glad they used that for the setting because it adds so much to the believability to the show.

I really enjoyed how magic is handled in Merlin.  Fantasy shows turn me off when they claim to have magic but push for a realistic look by removing and muting most of the magic.  I’m also disappointed when a fantasy show goes so over the top with the magic that they undue the immaculate reality making it hard for me to get into the show.  In Merlin they struck a nice balance in the setting where there is magic, it occurs, it looks really nice but it is not over the top.

The characters are likeable, charming and show room for growth.  This is very promising for a pilot and I can’t wait to see what happens with Merlin, Morgana, Guinevere, Gaius, and Arthur.

Merlin is a must see for fantasy fans, and I would recommend it for everyone as well.  I look forward to watching future episodes of Merlin and am thrilled to know that the BBC are already working on the next season.


  1. Very good job introducing the setting, characters, and rules.

  2. The look of the magic

  3. the set up for how magic works:  there are spells, enchantments and natural / elemental in nature.

  4. Merlin character is likeable, charming, he has talent but unrefined, he has noble characteristics, and hot,

  5. I like the shift in focus where Arthur is a spoiled noble ass and the focus is definitely shifted onto Merlin.

  6. I love the introduction of Guwen with her watching from the window

  7. very intrigued with Morgan and how she was set up

  8. the witches spell rocked with her singing the song and stuff slowly changing

  9. Merlin’s teacher being a physician / alchemist

  10. the use of a real castle in France… i thought it was a matt painting effect and a really good one but they kept getting closer to the point where i realized it was a real castle.

  11. good fantasy show

    1. two inept guards

    2. A Dragon

    3. the young adventurer in a new town picking fights without discerning who they are fighting with.

    4. lots of magic

    5. Sword play aka medieval weapon play daggers, morning star!!!, ect.

Dislikes / Concerns

  1. the music is a little lighthearted at times when not necessarily appropriate like the fight scenes between Arthur and Merlin

For more read Exploring: Merlin

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