11 Ways “Atlantis” Is About To Make Your Saturday Nights Better

BBC One’s big new adventure epic starts this weekend. There won’t be much avoiding it.

1. Let’s not beat about the bush here, this is a big reason a lot of people are going to be watching.

BBC

This is Jack Donnelly who plays the young hero Jason in the new Saturday night adventure series from the makers of Merlin.

2. He does wear clothes most of the time though.

BBC

Jason arrives, minus his Argonauts, sets out to look for his father, and something very strange happens. He finds himself washed up in mysterious place; a world of bull leaping, of snake haired Goddesses and palaces so vast it was said they were built by giants - this is the city of Atlantis. He is pretty much completely naked for the whole first scene as well.

3. Like Merlin, it’s a teen-drama origin story take on a classic legend.

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It’s taken as a given that the city is going to end up submerged one day. But just like its predecessor, this is telling the story of how they got there. And it cherry-picks the most popular bits of Greek Mythology to tell a coming-of-age story about friendship. The formula worked for five successful years with Merlin, so this is looking promising.

4. Like Merlin, it’s all about a bromance.

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When Jason arrives suddenly and mysteriously in Atlantis, the first friend he makes is Pythagoras (Robert Emms), still trying to figure out something to do with triangles. With the geek and jock soon united, their japes across the doomed city begin. From opening episodes, the friendship doesn’t look quite as homoerotic as the one between Merlin and Arthur, but we’re sure all that will change.

5. This is not the idea of Hercules that you have in your head.

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Here, he’s played by Game Of Thrones star Mark Addy as a boorish and beer-swilling slob. “This version of Hercules,” he says, “his father was Zeus, his mother was immortal, and he’s kind of taken on the more rather human traits if you like. He likes a drink, he likes women, he likes to gamble. Not the best traits but they’re the ones that he’s got so, yeah the Godlike stuff is not really to the fore. Hercules doesn’t go to the gym every day, he’s strong because he’s the son of a God.”

6. The Goddess that is Sarah Parish plays Queen Pasiphae.

BBC

In Greek mythology, she was the daughter of Helios. Here, she is a fairly tyrannical-looking Queen. “They’ve written some fantastic characters for women,” says Parish. “Pasiphae, I think a lot of people would call her evil and a bit scary and controlling. I would say she was vulnerable and misunderstood!”

7. It has a minotaur in it.

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And you see this icon of Greek mythology in the very first episode. Says Mark Addy: “They sent me episode one and what surprised me, you expect there to be a huge amount of setting up who’s who and what’s what’s what, but they’re you’re in there with the Minotaur in episode one. That is the amazing ambition, and it shows the scale of what they want to do and where they want to go with it.”

8. Juliet Stephenson plays the Oracle, the portal between the humans and the Gods.

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She knows something about Jason’s destiny and gets to do lots of spooky acting.

9. Like Merlin, it has a leading female character who will turn out to be evil.

BBC

Episode two introduces Jemima Rooper as Medusa, and we all know what’s going to happen to her. Says Rooper: “The nice thing about playing Medusa, when I was first approached fort it I thought ‘oh right here we go, wheel out the bad guy’, which was great, but they’ve switched it all on its head and Medusa is not as we know her – but the interesting thing will be how she becomes that person.”
This was exactly what they did with Morgana in Merlin to be fair.

10. Like Merlin, it is really very stunning to look at.

BBC

Shot on location in Morocco (and, erm, a giant warehouse in Chepstowe), Atlantis is huge in scale and looks wondrous. Jason’s torso, it’s true, is not the only eye-candy this show has to offer. “It strikes me that there are shows that I grew up watching that are still kind of iconic in their own way,” says Addy, “and this is something that belongs in that category. I’ve not seen anything quite like it on TV. Some of the stunts and the amazing work that goes into something like this is something you’d only normally see on a movie.”

11. Let’s just have another look at this again shall we?

BBC

Atlantis, BBC One, Saturday, 8.25pm.

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