Last night saw the Launch of the BBC’s new Saturday evening fantasy drama Atlantis. This is the show that is now in the slot previously occupied by Merlin *sob*. Much of the Team behind Atlantis are the same team that brought us Merlin and they have used a similar template here. They have taken an existing myth set and shaken it up and turned it around. This post is my take on episode one.
Atlantis charts the story of a young man called Jason. In modern day England Jason goes in search of his missing father only to find himself washed up (naked) on the shores of the mythical city of Atlantis. Understandably he’s a bit confused.
For episode one they adopted the story of the minotaur. The King of Atlantis (King Minos) is about to sacrifice seven of his people to the great beast in tribute to the gods in exchange for the safety of the city. With the help of mathematician Pythagoras and the not so heroic Hercules. Jason takes on the Minotaur. He also has more than a little help from the very forward and rather flirty Princess Ariadne.
Anyone who’s read any Greek myths will probably remember the story of the Minotaur and if they do they will probably remember that it was Theseus that did battle with it not Jason. This is one example of the way they are shaking up the Greek myths as they did with the Arthurian.
Mythology fans may also notice that although the temple of Greek god Poseidon is referred to, Hercules is known by his Roman name rather than his Greek name of Heracles. Of course that’s probably because he is better known by his Roman name. Just an interesting point I noticed; well I thought it was interesting anyway.
*POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT*
Was anyone else left after last night’s episode asking, where does this leave Dionysus and Medea and the Corinthian princess?
So did I like it yes I did but then I have a fascination and love for mythology. If I had one minor criticism it would be this: They’ve gone to the trouble of giving the story of the minotaur to a different hero, they’ve changed the character of Hercules and thrown Pythagoras into the mix but perhaps in that case the actual story of the minotaur should also have had a bit of a new twist. In fairness though there was a little bit of a twist in there but was it enough?
I surprise myself by saying this because I normally hate it when they mess with a story. It was a concern I had when Merlin started but to my surprise I liked it because it made the story new and more unpredictable. Perhaps Atlantis felt a little bit in limbo in that respect not quite the myth as we know it and not quite original enough to be truly different. All that though was an after thought though and a very small point.
Of course my reference to Merlin must bring me to the point of the inevitable comparisons that are being made amongst the Merlin fan base. I have seen some positive comments on Twitter about the show but sadly also some negative ones. I say sadly not because I expect everyone to like the show because I do but because I wonder if the judgements are being made fairly. Some of the remarks are to the effect that they knew it wasn’t going to be as good or better than Merlin, nothing can ever replace Merlin and so on.
Of course some people were honestly not taken with the show and that’s fine it’s all about personal taste. Some of the comments though left me wondering if some Merlin fans had already made up their minds to hate it before it ever aired.
It leads me to the question, is Atlantis being judged on it’s own merits and demerits or is it being judged solely on the fact that it’s not Merlin? I suspect that there is some bitterness around the fact that the creators of Merlin are the ones who pulled the plug on the show and they have now gone on to create Atlantis. I loved Merlin too but it’s over and let’s remember the cast were also ready to move on. You can’t expect people to stay in a job they don’t get as much out of anymore just for your entertainment.
I do wonder if Atlantis would have received the same kind of comments if it had been on a different channel with a different team behind it? The fact that It’s in Merlin’s old slot with the same team of creators means such comparisons are inevitable; but Merlin had five years for us to love it Atlantis has had one episode. It’s a different show , let it stand on it’s own two feet. Let’s give it a fair chance and see where it takes us.