TV REVIEW: Atlantis, Series 1, Ep 1 – ‘The Earth Bull’

BBC Atlantis logoSaturday night TV has a new contender with BBC’s Atlantis taking over the slot left behind by Merlin. We’re introduced to Jason right from the start but not in the way you might expect. He’s searching for his father, who we learn has disappeared years ago. He soon finds himself thrown headfirst into danger in the lost city and this sets the tone for the rest of the series. Spoilers ahoy!

For a slight change, we see Jason start off in the modern world searching for his father who turns out has been missing for most of Jason’s life. Despite warnings from the crew about going on a wild goose chase, he travels deep into the ocean’s depths, finds The Oracle but gets sucked into a bright light.

No he’s not dead but he has washed up on the shores of Atlantis. Stealing some poor person’s clothes, Jason wanders into the mythical city and you get a great sense of massiveness – how huge some of the structures really are. Jason soon finds himself on the run from palace guards and straight into the arms of Pythagoras. Yes that’s the mathematician who will bore thousands of schoolchildren in the future. Or so Jason says to his new friend who’s famous theorem has yet to be discovered. We also meet the legendary Hercules! However, he’s not so legendary anymore but overweight, cowardly and not too fond of the stranger in his abode.

The crew is the same crew from Merlin so at times, I found it quite difficult to ignore the similarities. The newcomer getting himself into trouble with royalty the moment he steps into a new city…sound familiar? We’re introduced to the royal family, King Minos, his seemingly unfeeling wife Queen Pasiphae and their daughter, Ariadne. What looks like a happy family on the surface is one that harbors secrets and some resentment from what we can tell.

Wanting answers, Jason finds his way to the Oracle who tells him vague information about why he’s arrived in Atlantis but tells her assistant that he can never know who he really is. Dun dun dun! Mysterious no? We also find out that the city sacrifices seven of its citizens to a Minotaur in an effort to appease the Gods and prevent them from destroying the city. Jason bravely takes his new friend’s place but their well-meaning rescue effort puts them right in danger with him anyway. Using a handy magical thread from the princess, Jason finds and slays the Minotaur, who was really a cursed man who knew his father. Of course, he dies before he can give him any useful information.

Overall, there are plenty (and I mean plenty) of similarities to Capps and Murphy’s previous series but that immediate chemistry between the leads is the biggest difference. Atlantis doesn’t have it yet but the potential is there. I’ll be watching the next few episodes to see if the actors grow into their roles, especially Jack Donnelly. He’s got great comedic timing but seemed a bit flat right out of the gate. What did you all think?

Rating: 3/5
  Sharlene Mousfar

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One comment

  1. archaeologist_d /

    I was bored. Jack isn’t engaging and while I loved the nod to the labyrinth and the legends, I didn’t really care about him. The guy who plays Hercules, Mark Addy, was fun and I liked Pythagoras, Robert Emms, as well but the storyline was simplistic and dull. The sets and locations were lovely and there was clear love in how it was filmed but I’m not sure how long I’ll give the showrunners and writers to get their act together before I give up. It’s certainly no Merlin (which I fell for in the first episode). In Merlin, while the plotting was fairly straightforward and could be head-scratching at times, the two male leads had amazing chemistry and were able to inject a sense of fun, adventure and love into their roles. I just don’t see it in Atlantis yet.

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