Merlin: The Complete Third Season was released on DVD by BBC this past week, just as the fourth series picks up on Syfy. The third series picks up a year after Morgana disappeared and the Great Dragon had ravaged Camelot before Merlin’s newly gained Dragonlord powers stopped him. Morgana’s disappearance has left Uther distraught while all his forces look for her. She is found, and appears to even forgive Merlin – but her schemes have not changed, and if anything, are more daring as she attempts to take the throne for herself with the help of Morgause (who we see more in this series). In the meantime, Arthur sees more in Gwen, which could be dangerous for her, while Lancelot returns and we are introduced to Gwaine, Percival, and Elyan (Gwen’s brother) who become Knights of Camelot. Throughout the season, we see Morgana and Morgause plot and scheme to take over Camelot, but others also have plans to murder Uther and take the crown.
Merlin is back with even more magic, adventure and romance as the young wizard struggles to protect Prince Arthur in the perilous world of Camelot. While battling deadly assassins, mystical monsters and the most powerful sorcerers Camelot has ever seen, Merlin must work harder than ever to conceal his unique abilities while King Uther redoubles his war against magic. Featuring exciting new villains, white-knuckle stunt sequences, and spectacular CGI monsters, Merlin season three is more thrilling than ever.
“Camelot Has Welcomed Back Its Daughter”:
Guest stars during the season feature several Harry Potter veterans: Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley) as the voice of the Goblin in “Goblin’s Gold”; Miriam Margolyes (Professor Sprout) as Grunhilda in “The Changling”; Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick) as Grettir in “The Eye of the Phoenix”, and a much slimmer Harry Melling (Dudley Dursley) as Gilli in “The Sorcerer’s Shadow”.
Episodes in this series vary from very dark to lighthearted fun, such as the episode “Goblin’s Gold” coming after the serious two-part premiere. Colin Morgan also gets to play a much older version of Merlin with some comedic effect in “Queen of Hearts”.
“Get Out Of My Way”:
The DVD’s come in a slipcase featuring Merlin and Arthur readying for an attack, with Morgana’s imposing stare above them. The DVDs themselves are encased in a role-up style folder with three segments, two holding two DVDs each, and the 5th special features DVD on it’s own. Underneath the clear plastic holders is an image of Merlin and Gaius at a table in Gaius’ workshop, while the back is a panoramic image of the knights on horseback. Each DVD is screen printed with the characters: Merlin, Gwen, Arthur, Morgana and Gaius.
The DVD menus themselves are some of my favorites that I’ve encountered. They are CGI images of various tables and rooms, and they are semi-animated. They don’t have overt imagery or sounds, but are actually more subdued, with “shadow” images of video from the various episodes, and flickering candles. When moving from one menu to another, the room will darken, and you are taken to another. And not too slow to be annoying like some other efforts.
Audio commentaries are available on 4 episodes: Episode 1 (“The Tears of Uther Pendragon, Part 1″), with Katie McGrath (Morgana) and Bradley James (Arthur); Episode 3 (“Goblin’s Gold”), with Angel Coulby (Gwen) and Richard Wilson (Gaius); Episode 10 (“Queen of Hearts”), with producer Johnny Capps and Anthony Head (Uther); and Episode 13 (“The Coming of Arthur, Part 2″) with producer Julian Murphy and director Jeremy Webb.
“A Faerie at the Heart of Camelot”:
The remaining special features are contained on the 5th disc:
Making Of Merlin Season 3 (23:51) – John Hurt’s face is actually used for motion capture for the Dragon’s speech.
Merlin Season 3 Comic-Con San Diego 2010 (39:20) – Co-creators Johhny Capps and Julian Murphy, Colin Morgan, and Anthony Head talk about the show and answer questions, along with some outtakes.
Delete Scenes (28:07) – Extra scenes that were cut for time or pacing
Outtakes (5:00) – More outtakes not shown at Comic-Con.
Wallpapers – accessible on a computer with DVD, 8 1920×1080 widescreen images.
Gallery – Not a typical frame gallery, but a video with description screens followed by the picture.
All in all a powerful season in a nice package. I also wonder if there was some question about continuing on after this particular series, as unlike a lot of other programs it did not end on a cliffhanger, but at a point that had there not been another series commissioned might have been a satisfactory ending. But it wasn’t the end, and we have a fourth series currently in progress in the US, and a fifth series commissioned!
Merlin: The Complete Third Season is currently available at Amazon for $32.99 (at time of review).