A SWOT Analysis for BBC’s Atlantis
Posted by geeksyndicate on September 10, 2013
Last Saturday night, just before we were blinded by the glitz and sequins provided by the annual return of Strictly Come Dancing, we got our first proper trailer for Atlantis. For several months now the BBC have been teasing us quite the inventive marketing campaign, with riddles and animated gifs, but very little info on the characters or plot. In this age of social media I’m not sure if everyone will feel the same about that choice but personally it has been a nice change to not know everything about a show six months before it actually hits our TV screens.
After watching the trailer and seeing some of the comments generated I began to wonder that kind of perils this new show and its cast and crew may face besides the many mythical monsters.
In my shrouded origin tale there lurks a young man who once journeyed to a lost city called Northampton to study the ways of business. Part of my early training (besides one finger push ups) was learning how to achieve great and terrible power by harnessing the fabled SWOT Analysis.
“SWOT analysis (alternatively SWOT Matrix) is a structured planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. A SWOT analysis can be carried out for a product, place, industry or person. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving that objective.” – Wikipedia
Despite risking my immortal soul by sharing this information with you I shall attempt to see if I can apply a SWOT Analysis (something I’ve not done in years) to a TV show. So without further ado here’s my crack at a SWOT chart for Atlantis.
Right then just to get you further in the mood I’ll go into a few of the topics mentioned in the SWOT diagram and see if I can put a little more meat on the bones.
Cast and Crew
One of the reasons this in the strengths column is that a huge chunk of the crew are Merlin alumni. This explains why the feel of the trailer evokes memories of that show. Whether you a fan of Merlin or wanting to leave him locked in the crystal cave the show was a huge success. The fact that so many of the show’s crew is involved can only be a strength in my mind. They have been working in this time-slot for a lot of years so there is a lot of experience to draw upon. It also means as the show goes on (if it does well) there will be opportunities to bring in some of the actors and actresses from Merlin into the show to play other characters.
Besides creating the Misfits TV show the creator of Atlantis Howard Overman also wrote 11 episodes of Merlin. Also the names Johnny Capps, Julian Murphy and Julian Jones will not be strangers to fans of Arthur’s magical buddy. Johnny and Julian are serving as Executive Producers on Atlantis and Julian Jones, Merlin’s former head writer has penned one the episodes for the new show. Justin Molotnikov, who from IMDB looks to be directing the opening episode of Atlantis, has directed 8 episodes on Merlin. The episodes included the two part series finale ‘The Diamond of the Day’. Other directors listed are Alice Troughton and Declan O’Dwyer. Troughton has directed episodes of Doctor Who, including Midnight which not only was a great episode but it was the first time I saw Colin Morgan on telly. Troughton has also directed Torchwood and nine episodes of the Sarah Jane Adventures. O’Dwyer has directed four episodes of the popular CBBC show Wolfblood, which has just returned for a second series.
On the casting front I’ve not seen Jack Donnelly who plays Jason in anything before this although he’s been in Misfits and a few other bits. This is good a thing as it means he can grow into the character but on the downside there is a hell of a lot riding on his shoulders and he may not be up to the task. The trailer doesn’t show off that much of his acting chops so people don’t have much to go on which can be a danger. Colin Morgan pretty much owned his part from the first episode of Merlin but it took Bradly James a little longer to find his feet as the young Arthur. Hopefully Donnelly can do the same but for the reason that this role could overwhelm him this also needs to go in the weakness column.
I’m not sure I buy Mark Addy as Hercules at the moment (and a lot of people are saying the same thing) but I loved him in Games of Thrones so am not ruling him out just yet. I will talk about some of the other characters when I return in part two.
This timeslot is much sought after mainly because as it does guarantee a huge number of viewers (usually off the back of Strictly Come Dancing) who will want to continue on their Saturday night telly with something lighthearted and fun. Of course whether viewers stick around is another matter but few shows in this time slot on the BBC over the past years have only done one series. Merlin scored an impressive five series run, Doctor Who is still going and even Robin Hood which was ok but not great managed to get three series before getting the shaft.
‘I’m also a little peeved that the 3 protagonists are all white dudes…’
‘Atlantis – set in Ancient Greece and starring only white people…’
After the trailer aired I did see quite a few comments like the ones above about the lack of diversity in the main cast members. Now whether this continues to be true or not once the series airs and more characters are revealed a perception like this can be very difficult to shake off. It can become even more damaging to a show if social media or the press decide to get behind this as an issue to be addressed.
Social Media is one of the biggest weapons, albeit a double edged one, available to anyone thinking of marketing a TV show The team behind Atlantis have taken to their social media duties like a duck to water with accounts set up on Twitter, Facebook, tumblr and probably some I’ve missed. Part of their campaign have been posting a lot animated gifs depicting scenes from the show and riddles to be solved with the promise of more info for the chosen few. I’ve heard of some of the mainstream press and bloggers getting strange puzzle boxes delivered to them. This can be seen as both a strength and a weakness because if the first episode is universally loved or loathed that news will spread like wildfire throughout Social Media. I’m sure the BBC will have one eye on some kind of overseas distribution of Atlantis ( it’s already coming to BBC America) and a positive or negative reaction online could help or hinder further expansion overseas as well as the aim of attracting new viewers.
For months I thought this was going to be just a show about the city of Atlantis (even though it was mentioned in several of the press releases). When I watched the trailer and saw Jason, Hercules and I’m pretty sure a Minotaur at the end of the trailer it opened up a wealth of potential Greek myths the writers can go nuts over. My biggest question is what role will the Greek gods take in this show? Will they just be referred to or will the showrunners go the Clash of the Titans (original not dodgy remake) route to give us Zeus and Co in all their strobe lighted and white robed glory.
Existing Fan bases
The fact is the Merlin fan base is vast,loyal and will be tough to win over. I think that given the folks who were involved in Merlin are also behind Atlantis many fans, like me, will tune in to the first few episodes to see if they can give us something different but with some of sensibilities that came through in Merlin. If the Atlantis showrunners can pull this little trick off they could inherit a lot of the Merlin fan base. If they manage to somehow alienate said Merlin fans they risk waking a beast more fearsome than the Kraken itself with an ear piercing cry of ‘They cancelled Merlin for this?’
End of Part 1
This is my first attempt at trying something like this and if you take nothing else from this I hope you found it to be a fair and balanced look at a show we still know very little about. Everything that I got came from either the trailer, IMDB or a swift internet search or two. What I wanted to do was look at a show like this from all angles, both good and bad, and not just focus in on one side of things or try not to make snap judgments (My ‘This Star Trek reboot is going to be crap’ rant on the podcast still haunts me to this day).
Feel free to stick in your own Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in the comments below.