TV REVIEW: Atlantis

I have a confession to make. I didn't choose to stop reviewing Atlantis (if any of you had noticed that I had). I simply forgot it was on. Completely. It didn't even enter my head that I'd missed any episodes until this weekend. So I've just marathoned the three episodes I missed; The Song of the Sirens, Rules of Engagement and The Furies.

This was a bad plan.



Watching it week by week was enough to expose the faults inherent in this series; the uninspired plotlines, the weak characterisation, the frankly odd combination of archaic turns of phrase with regular 2013 speak. Most of all, it's just dull. Watching it in one go just meant these faults screamed themselves at me over the course of over two hours.  And yet I kept watching because the world they've created has such potential (until it left my memory of course). Atlantis could be a huge playing field for all sorts of Greek mythological beings to come into contact with our characters. Some have already, but they've done little with them. Even Circe, one of the most powerful and vindictive witches in all legend, is reduced to a quick episode appearance in a mysterious cloak. 

Atlantis would do well to look to the American television series Once Upon A Time for advice on how to weave these characters together into a cohesive, believable whole. The fairytale series has taken the original stories as their base and gone in a wide variety of directions with it, changing characters' pasts and futures to suit their needs. Importantly though, it creates characters with depth, emotional ties and fascinating conflicts. Atlantis attempts to, but beyond Hercules (and I suspect this is more to do with Mark Addy than the writers), characters have had little to do but function as plot devices.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the female characters, of which we have four main figures who interact with the main male trio. Even with such figures as Pasiphae, Ariadne, Medusa and The Oracle, the female characters are woefully underwritten, serving as little more than plot propellers even in episodes supposed to be around them. Ariadne seems to be there to look pretty, Medusa's doom-laden, The Oracle dispenses narrative and Pasiphae's evil. That's pretty much all there is to them. The male characters don't fare much better, but at least there are attempts to give them depth. The female characters are little more than bejewelled cardboard cutouts.

And now I follow with a short review of each of the episodes. May contain ranting.

The Song of the Sirens: Weaving in various elements of The Odyssey, the episode follows Hercules' attempts to win the heart of Medusa by resorting to magic. Needless to say, it goes awry. You know what the major problem with this episode is? I mean, aside from the terrible humour (again with the farting...). Hercules DRUGS Medusa into loving him. She then follows him around before succumbing to a disease which nearly kills her AND THEN DOESN'T GET TO CONFRONT HERCULES ABOUT IT. Way to go writers. That's exactly the kind of message we want to see on TV: You can't get a girl lads? Don't worry, just drug the one you want and it'll all be fine! I mean really BBC. Let's not have a plotline about roofying someone and not deal with the consequences.

Then there is The Rules of Engagement is, quite frankly, ridiculous. After spending all of about half an hour in each other's company, Jason and Ariadne get to suffer the starcrossed lovers riff as she becomes engaged to Heptarian. She weeps a lot and doesn't do much else. Jason mopes about a bit, gets his shirt off and decides to fight in the Pankration (which I'm well aware was an actual thing, but it sounds like a disease). There's lots of sweaty fighting and plotting in corners, but Ariadne has had about as much character development as the table Jason lies on when he's injured. The whole injured but continuing to fight for love thing is also a bit stolen from A Knight's Tale which has done nothing to endear me to Atlantis' attempts at originality. But, you know, the fight sequences were quite impressive.

And finally we get to The Furies in which Hercules, Pythagorus and Jason take the dullest road trip ever. It starts well, giving Pythagorus some much needed screentime that wasn't based on humiliating Hercules or healing Jason, but it centres on a brother he never met and features the darkest plotline yet to hit Atlantis in his abuse as a child. It could have been an interesting examination of family dynamics, of how the sins of the parents are visited on the child. Pythagorus is revealed as a murderer and... well it just seemed to come out of nowhere. Robert Emms does the best he can with it and gives an emotional performance but it seems completely incongruous with that which has gone before. Not to mention, the inclusion of The Furies was a wasted opportunity.

And what happened to Jason being from 2013? Seriously, where did that plotline go?



In short, I'm done with Atlantis.

- Becky

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