Inexplicably, Merlin is renewed for a fourth series

This DOES NOT COMPUTE. The BBC have confirmed that they’ve renewed Merlin for a fourth series, presumably to air autumn 2011.

I’ve unofficially stopped watching Merlin this year in protest at the terrible storylines and shocking lack of plot development. So, while this is good news for Colin Morgan and Bradley James, who play Merlin and Prince Arthur respectively, I’m baffled.

The BBC claims that the show is actually performing quite well against ITV’s [[The X Factor 2010|The X Factor]]. But that’s yet another reason why Merlin’s fallen off my radar in recent weeks. Yes, we’ve got the old episodes backed up on Sky+, but I’ve been so burned by the early episodes of the third series that I haven’t felt remotely compelled to watch them. 

According to Dan Owen’s post, though, the fourth series has only been renewed for 10 episodes instead of the expected 13. So it’s possible that despite the bullish press release about viewing figures, there’s some concern about the direction Merlin has taken. I wonder…if ten episodes might be what they’ve been given to wrap the story up and kill off the series?

Merlin does have a dedicated fanbase, but the major criticism this year is that the characters are stagnating. With the exception of Morgana, the main characters are in roughly the same places as they were three years ago. If the characters can’t develop beyond this point, there’s little point in giving them another series to continue going round in narrative circles.

There may be hope on the horizon though – the executive producers for Shine TV, Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy have dropped a massive hint:

We are both delighted with the continuing success of Merlin, and relish the chance to take the series to the next level with the long-awaited arrival of the Knights of the Round Table.

OK, so there may be an interesting development around the corner. But who will convene the Round Table – Uther or Arthur? Much as Anthony Head might be missed if Uther was killed off, it might be the impetus to move the story or Merlin forward or at least toward some sort of conclusion.

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