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Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review

merlin-S5-blu-ray-coverU.S. Release

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 3  (3  x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 569 Mins.
  • Studio:BBC
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 9, 2013
  • List Price: $59.98

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:3.5/5]

Merlin-Season-5-BD_01

“The Die is Cast” is the tagline for this fifth and final season of the BBC’s hit fantasy series based on the legend of Camelot. And so it is, because the story must wrap up within these 13 episodes, and while the title of the series is Merlin, there would be no Merlin (Colin Morgan) without King Arthur (Bradley James) and vice versa. So the legend of King Arthur must be set here and now, and Merlin must rise as a powerful wizard, it is no secret.

While this series was meant to be about the early days of Arthur and Merlin, I have never felt that Bradley James as an actor ever quite captured the gravitas of the Arthur mythology in his portrayal, albeit he fared no worse than Jamie Campbell Bower in the short-lived, but not as bad as one would expect television series Camelot. This fifth season of Merlin, then, should have given rise to a weightier King Arthur, his father now removed from the pictured and the threat of Morgana (Katie McGrath) even more present than ever. It never really comes to fruition, however, but the writers do succeed, somewhat, in offering us glimpses of the classic archetype of Merlin the stately, powerful wizard that exists in Western culture. McGrath is almost as good an evil sorceress Morgana as the inimitable Eva Green was in the aforementioned Camelot. Fans who have been following the series from the beginning will not be betrayed by the arc here that stays somewhat true to the legend, adding in its own twists, of course, but it does feel just a tad bit rushed.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Merlin-Season-5-BD_02

The fifth season of Merlin continues in the higher quality offered by stepping up to 35mm film (3-perf, Super 35) that began with the production of season four. All previous seasons were done on 16mm (Super 16), common on all British television productions only until very recently when the BBC standardized on HD for all television productions. I’m going to assume that Merlin wasn’t moved to being an original HD production either because it is a BBC Wales production, or because they wanted to maintain some form of consistency in appearance since it was already a running series. Either way, we get a rather sharp and textured looking image here, offered in AVC/MPEG-4 1080p for US audiences on Blu-ray. Close-ups provide crisp detail in clothing and facial detail, blacks are consistent across the series and contrast is rather strong. There is some occasional softness and grit, but nothing to be too concerned about.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Merlin-Season-5-BD_03

The English soundtrack is offered up in a rather lush and dynamic DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) stereo track that captures the ambience of the series surprisingly well. It would have been nice to hear this all in 5.1, but this mix still does the trick quite nicely.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

Merlin-Season-5-BD_04

About half of the episodes are provided with an audio commentary from the cast and crew. The package also comes with video extras that include a making of, deleted scenes, and storyboards, all in standard definition.

The supplements:

  • Audio commentaries with cast & crew on:
    • “Arthur’s Bane: Part Two”
    • “The Death Song of Uther Pendragon”
    • “The Disir”
    • “The Hollow Queen”
    • “With All my Heart”
    • “The Kindness of Strangers”
  • Deleted Scenes (1.78:1; SD; 00:17:45)
  • Outtakes (1.78:1; SD; 00:06:48)
  • Making of (1.78:1; SD; 00:25:56)
  • Storyboards (1.78:1; SD; 00:15:51)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Merlin-Season-5-BD_05

Even with an Arthur who still feels too boyish, the fifth season of the BBC’s Merlin puts an enjoyable end cap on what was a mostly likeable, and top quality series that reworked the Camelot mythology into something palatable for modern audiences.

Additional Screen Captures

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BestBuy.com:
Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season (3 Disc) - Widescreen 3 Pack - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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[amazon-product]B00B5A9FOG[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season (3 Disc) - Widescreen 3 Pack - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Merlin: The Complete Fifth Season on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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