TV Review: Atlantis

Wednesday 2 October 2013 by

Atlantis, BBC, Drama, TV, The Earth Bull, The premise of BBC’s latest big-budget drama is simple – the hero of the series, Jason (played by Jack Donnelly), goes down in a submarine to find his father, and gets sucked into another world, filled with myths and legends… welcome to Atlantis.

The initial teasers for the series hinted at a serious drama – of the likes of A Game of Thrones – but as the trailers got more in-depth, it became quickly clear that this was more Merlin. I loved Merlin during the first couple of seasons – lots of drama and comedy all cheerfully mixed together with highly-spirited acting. This new show is meant to fill the gap left by Merlin and before Doctor Who makes its reappearance. So could Atlantis live up to its Saturday-night slot?

Atlantis episode one – The Earth Bull

*mild spoilers alert*

Newcomer Donnelly as Jason is relatively entertaining – he’s not bad eye candy and his acting can hold together. But, as with any first episode, this suffers from info-dump on vast scales. Within the first five minutes, we are introduced to this Strange New World with a suitable chase scene involving a two-headed lizard, men with swords, and lots and lots of dropped fruit.

Next, we meet the two characters who are set to provide the (slightly awkward) comedy value: Pythagoras and Hercules (Mark Addy and Robert Emms). Thus he is led on to the Oracle, played by Juliet Stevenson with suitable wide-eyed mysteriousness.

Cue info-dump. In the space of a couple of minutes, we learn that Jason’s dad is dead (curiously his father “walks among the dead” – perhaps a hint of a return?), the fate of his mother is still unknown, he was originally from Atlantis, and that he has a great destiny. Oh, and that the Oracle didn’t tell him everything because it’s so dangerous for him to know these things.

Before we can dwell on all this information too much, we are thrown in to the main crux of the episode – the Minotaur. Jason takes Pythagoras’ place as a sacrifice for the Minotaur, but in a humorous twist both Pythagoras and Hercules are thrown in as sacrifices as well.

Atlantis, Jack Donnelly, Aiysha Hart, BBC, TV, Atlantis

Could it be love? Jack Donnelly and Aiysha Hart as Jason and Ariadne

The scenes in the labyrinth are suitably tense and dramatic, with the conclusion suitably satisfying and open-ended. There is also a perfect set-up for a romance between Jason and the princess, Ariadne (played by Aiysha Hart), and plenty of opportunity to make baddies (and thus Jason’s nemeses) out of the king and queen – played by Alexander Siddig and Sarah Parish.

Filmed in part in Morocco and in part in a warehouse in Chepstow, the set is a character in itself – full of huge palaces, narrow streets and sand-scarred rocks. One thing the BBC always does well is a good set, and this is no different. But when it comes to plot lines, despite stealing plenty of stuff from various Greek myths and legends, we might be on shakier ground. If you enjoyed Merlin, then this will be great viewing – taking one of Saturday’s prime spots, it feels like a feet-up-in-front-of-the-fire and don’t-pay-much-attention programme rather than something much more engrossing. In the absence of money-making Merlin and cult hit Doctor Who, Atlantis is plain old feel good fun.

Rating, Review, Three

Did you watch Atlantis? What did you think?

Meet the cast:

Jason is played by Jack Donnelly
Pythagoras is played by Robert Emms
Hercules is played by Mark Addy
Ariadne is played by Aiysha Hart
King Minos is played by Alexander Siddig
Queen Pasiphaë is played by Sarah Parish
The Oracle is played by Juliet Stevenson

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