Welcome to the fourth edition of Scooping The Screen, our own new original feature in which books on television and in film will be spotlighted. This feature will be posted at varying frequencies, so please keep checking our site for further updates (although I hope to have it out at least once a week.
This is a special edition of StS entitled Screen Themes (STs). STs will feature posts on different "bookish themes" and how they are portrayed in film/television. For the premiere edition, the television show Merlin will be discussed.
Topic: Merlin (TV Show: 2008-present)
Networks: BBC One | SyFy
Cast: Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Angel Coulby, Katie McGrath
Summary: A family-oriented retelling of the popular King Arthur legend finds Merlin (Colin Morgan) arriving in Camelot, where magic is banned. There, he clandestinely hones his sorcery skills with the help of his uncle (Richard Wilson), the court physician. Meanwhile, Merlin strikes up a reluctant truce with the irritating Prince Arthur (Bradley James) and befriends a lonely dragon held captive in the palace dungeon.
Watch Merlin on Netflix (Seasons 1-3)
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Merlin celebrated its season 5 premiere on the BBC in Britain today (It will premiere on American SyFy in January 2013). Merlin is based on the famous legends of King Arthur, Sorcerer Merlin, The Knights of the Round Table, and the kingdom of Camelot. While a version of Arthur may have existed in history (possibly during the 5th and 6th Centuries), the romanticized version of the king we know today is a vivid mixture of various Celtic, British, and French sources.
Merlin also has a basis as an historical figure who started showing up in writings around the 10th Century by Geoffery of Monmouth, a Welshman. Monmouth claims Merlin (birth name Emrys) was prophet who lived during the 6th Century. Eventually, that prophet's story evolved into a tale of magic, dragons, and destiny. He also became a close adviser to King Arthur and may have even created "The Round Table".
Along the way, Arthur and Merlin's legends have inspired many works of fiction including The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley), The Once and Future King (T.H. White), and Le Morte d'Arthur (Sir Thomas Mallory). Additionally, the earliest versions of the infamous Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot love triangle and "The Holy Grail" missions are credited to French poet Chrétien de Troyes.
A majority of these fantastical elements are integrated into the television series. It is always thrilling to see how they will interpret the legend during each episode. For more information on the historical and literary aspects of these legends, please check out these three links.
The BBC put out an excellent featurette for Season 5 of Merlin. Please check it out below. *spoiler alert if you have not watched Season 4*
Entertainment Weekly has also featured the costumes of Merlin on its website. *spoiler alert if you have not watched Season 4* (Click on picture for story).
Do you watch Merlin? What do you think? Does it capture the heart of the Arthurian legend or do you prefer some other take? Hit the comments below to let me know!
Well, that concludes the fourth edition of Scooping The Screen and first edition of Screen Themes. I hope to have additional editions out regularly.