En route to its June 21 premiere on NBC, the British import Merlin is already drawing raves from American viewers who have either seen parts of it on YouTube or the whole thing. The series loosely based on Arthurian legends and the wizard Merlin draw as much as 30 percent of viewers when it first aired on September 20 last year.
The BBC show is set to premiere on Sunday 8pm, which marks as the first British drama to air on American network television in 30 years, the last one being The New Avengers in the late 1970s. To further satisfy all so-called wizard-philes, NBC said it will also air a sneak preview of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince during the premiere.
British actor Anthony Stewart Head stars as Uther Pendragon, joined by Colin Morgan as Merlin, Bradley James as then arrogant Prince Arthur, Richard Wilson as Camelot's court physician Gaius, Angel Coulby as Morgana's humble maid servant Guinevere, and Katie McGrath as the King's ward Morgana.
Asked to describe his character, Head says Uther Pendragon plays a king who "is fairly unpleasant and likes to cut people's heads off if they happen to use magic or even talk about magic in my kingdom."
On Merlin's first season, Head adds that audiences will get "little tastes of elements that will become very important within the legend."
Merlin takes place on the kingdom of Camelot in a time before history began in what NBC described as "a fantastical realm of legendary beasts and mysterious people, a dangerous world." Current King Uther Pendragon bans magic, and Merlin as a young gifted with extraordinary magical powers arrives in the kingdom to quickly make enemies, not the least of which is the heir to Uther's crown Prince Arthur.
The Merlin cast and crew is halfway through filming its sophomore season.