The miniseries has already sold a ton of VHS copies via the unusual (and sure-to-be-imitated) method of advertising the video during the movie’s original two-night NBC appearance. But even if you didn’t catch Merlin last April, ye need seek out this tape. Following Camelot’s wizard (Neill) from childhood to old age as he tries to hoist England out of anarchy, the film works its whimsically eldritch spell through inspired casting, brilliant editing, and subtly astonishing special effects that seem sewn, jewel-like, into the story’s fabric. Sure, it’s Classix Illustrated stuff — see Richardson as original Goth grrrl Queen Mab! Shiver at Rutger Hauer as mean old King Vortigern! — but it’s done with welcome panache, and the central love story between Merlin and his Nimue (Isabella Rossellini, heartbreaking as usual) is refreshingly middle-aged. A-

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