A year of major changes in Camelot, as Arthur ascends to the throne and has to protect his land from Morgana and her erstwhile allies…
As the separate episode reviews of the episodes elsewhere on this site will attest, the fourth series of Merlin took the show into new territory, with the occasional light moment being used as contrast with the more serious dramatic stories being told – something that was reflected in the show’s new later timeslot. There isn’t a “happy ever after” at the end of every episode: in fact, a number end quite bleakly.
This full series release contains much that will please the fans, in addition to the pristine clean copies of the episodes. The Blu-ray set captures all the intricate detail that goes into the set building (even if one or two pieces of make up don’t necessarily hold up to the full HD scrutiny), and even the DVD version is much sharper than previous seasons, thanks to the 35mm filming.
The first four discs contain the episodes as broadcast, with commentaries on certain selected segments. It’s a shame, perhaps, that there’s nothing on the closing two-parter – some words from the producers dropping hints about what’s being set up might have gone down well, and the whole Tristan and Isolde plotline could have benefitted from some explanations for those less up to speed with legend.,
The fifth disc has the other bonus features, with a large set of deleted scenes from many of the episodes in the set: these include some bonding moments between Arthur and Merlin (in some cases longer than we saw in the episode, but for Aithusa adding a new element), as well as some extra explanation of Gaius and Gwen’s activities during the illness in Camelot in episode two, and Merlin’s concerns over Arthur’s behaviour. A minor plothole concerning Agravaine’s knowledge of Merlin’s disappearance from Camelot later in the season is also addressed, but as it comes in a scene which doesn’t show Arthur in a particularly good light, it’s one best left assumed, rather than seen.
The outtakes are pretty much standard (although the best is very definitely left for last, Colin Morgan fans), but the animated storyboards are fun, showing a Wyvern attack from episode two, and the sequence with Arthur on the spinning wheel from episode three. Add in a gallery of fan pics, and it’s a good package.
Verdict: Probably the best season of the show to date, and well worth getting in the high definition edition – even if the soundtrack is only stereo rather than the full 5.1 mix. 8/10
Click here for our reviews of the show, now starting from the very beginning
Click here to order the Complete Fourth Series of Merlin on Blu-ray from Amazon.co.uk