Merlin is a new television series that was first on NBC and now new episodes are being shown on the SyFy Channel. I have seen numerous angry posts about this new show. King Arthur fans are upset because this show is different from other versions of King Arthur—some posts stated that the writers have ‘murdered’ the legend. Merlin is about a teenage Arthur and Merlin. The concept is what if Merlin, Arthur, Gwen and Morgana grew up together? Uther is still alive and king of Camelot, Gwenhwyfar is a Moor and handmaiden to Morgana, and Merlin is Arthur’s servant. Merlin has to hide his magic because Uther has banned magic from the kingdom. Morgana is still Gorlois’s daughter, but she is Uther’s ward. I’m not sure which parts of this show anger people more, but I think seeing Merlin as a servant is most upsetting to some people.
I almost stopped watching Merlin after the first show because I had a hard time seeing them as boys in a setting much different from most versions of King Arthur, but I stuck with it and now I find the series fun and interesting. I like to see different versions of myths. These are myths, after all and not recorded history. Marion Zimmer Bradley did a really different version of King Arthur that became popular with a lot of people, though some people were opposed to her adaptation.
Personally, I think Merlin, despite showing the characters as teenagers, stays truer to the original Celtic legend of King Arthur. I’m not a fan of the later writings that to me seem to be Christianized versions of the myth. This series focuses more on the old religion and magic that had to still be alive in the fourth/fifth centuries even though Christianity had spread throughout Britain. I picture King Arthur as someone who respected Christianity and paganism—that was how he was able to unite all of Britain. I do have some issue with the way the historical setting is portrayed in the twelfth century rather than the fifth century when it was more likely King Arthur’s time. Maybe the writers thought the Dark Ages might be too dismal for some people. Despite this, I still enjoy this series so far.
There are many variations on the King Arthur myth so why does this one have a lot of people so upset?
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